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  • The Chopping Blog

Professional Chefs Make Mistakes Too

Posted by Rochelle on Jul 22, 2015

When I talk to home cooks, many share with me that they are afraid of trying things in the kitchen because they will make a mistake. They are worried they will create a “disaster” of some sort and that their attempt to make a new recipe will become completely inedible. What they fail to realize is that even professional chefs regularly make mistakes.

For example, take my signature dish: Porcini-Crusted Beef with Chocolate Port Sauce. This recipe has been used by a national school and has gotten me more than one job. And it was a mistake. I had 3 sauces on the stove working, one being a dessert sauce. I went to add the chocolate and put it… in the wrong skillet on the stove. Signature dish born.

Now, don’t get me wrong - mistakes don’t always work out. I’ve made plenty of dishes that I thought “Wow - I  won’t make that again.” But the point is that I’m not afraid to try it. Whether it is a new technique or flavors I have not tried to put together before, I will always try something once. If it doesn’t work, you continue to make changes until it does indeed work. But sometimes, it is frustrating to have something fail when you feel like you should be able to execute a dish.

Recently, I found some reinforcement in the most unlikely place. I was visiting Toronto and I came across a bakery that had French Macarons for sale (one of the dishes that took me a long time to perfect and that can still be tempermental from time to time). They were cracked. This professional bakery had ruined their macarons too.


While I felt bad for the poor baker that I’m sure got an earful from their boss that day, it also served as a reminder that even people who do something every single day can have an off day too. Unfortunately for the home cook, these mistakes are often discarded so there is a perception that if you become a professional, you will automatically be able to execute things without mistakes. If only they knew…

This is something that I try to impart to my students at The Chopping Block; sometimes you just have an off day. Or the humidity throws it off. Or your oven needs to be calibrated… the list goes on and on. The key is just to accept the fact that sometimes bad things happen to good cooks.

Sadly, most mistakes happen in baking. This is where we come in - pointing out the places where mistakes can happen, and what can go wrong. Pie is definitely one of those items. Luckily, we are teaching a Pies, Tarts and Crostatas class at both locations in August.

Saturday, August 8 10am Merchandise Mart

Sunday, August 16 10am Lincoln Square

Come learn how to perfect those pies! If you really want to become an expert, our Pie & Tart Boot Camp is slated for September. Can't wait until then? Here's our Owner/Chef Shelley Young's video on How to make Pie Crust:



Topics: chefs, mistakes, Cooking Techniques

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