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    Professional Chefs Are Sharing The Biggest Mistakes They See Amateur Cooks Making, And I'm Taking Notes

    Never put a knife in the sink.

    Cooking can be intimidating. Whether it be baking a cake or preparing for a dinner party, the slightest mistake in a measurement can throw off the whole dish.

    Giphy: Tumblr / Via giphy.com

    So, when Reddit user u/BigBadWolf44 asked chefs to share their number one rule of cooking that amateurs need to know, I had my notepad ready. Here are a few of the top-voted responses:

    1. "When you take something out of the oven — a pot, pan, skillet, sheet, tray, whatever — drape a towel or oven mitt over the handle/edge of it. That way, you or anyone else understands that it’s hot and not to be grabbed bare-handed."

    u/TheWingus

    2. "You’re going to enjoy cooking more if you have a SHARP knife. No clue how people can hack away at veggies and meat."

    u/friendbuddyguypal

    3. "Mise en place. It's French for 'putting in place' or something like that. It means that, before you start the actual cooking, get everything you'll need for the whole recipe out on the counter, do all your prep work (measuring, chopping onions, peeling potatoes, seasoning meat, greasing pans, whatever the recipe says), and put it all within arm's reach of where you'll be cooking. As you become more experienced, you'll get a feel for what can wait to be done during down time mid-cooking, but even then, mise is just less of a hassle."

    u/howlingfrog

    A person surrounded by baking ingredients
    Iuliia Isaieva / Getty Images

    4. "Please taste what you're cooking before serving it."

    u/Maxx130 

    5. "Smell is very similar to taste, and if you're not sure about combining various spices, open the bottles and smell them all together."

    u/SuddenSenseOfSonder

    6. "If you are cooking for a large group (Thanksgiving for example), test the recipe beforehand when possible."

    u/WolfSavage 

    A person serving a large Thanksgiving meal
    Skynesher / Getty Images

    7. "Don't rely on a single recipe. If you want to try to make something you had at a restaurant and google 'chicken alla whatever,' don't just randomly pick one of the results to try. Read a few of them and cook the one that comes closest to being the average of all the others. Way too many internet recipes aren't actually tested by their authors."

    u/howlingfrog

    8. "Hotter doesn't mean faster. Turning your burners up to 10 will just lead to smoke and half-cooked food with a burnt exterior."

    u/blay12

    9. "My one rule is that a knife never goes in the sink. As soon as you're done, it gets washed and put back."

    u/_Contrive_

    A person cutting with a large knife
    Peopleimages / Getty Images

    10. "I watched a Gordon Ramsay show where he said, 'If it's brown, it's cooked; if it's black, it's fucked.' He was right."

    u/maskaler

    11. "Fat, salt, sour, bitter. If it's bland, add some fat. If it's still bland, add some salt. If it's still bland, add some vinegar or lemon juice. If it's still bland, add some herbs and spices or green vegetables. This is even something you can do late in the cooking process to fix a recipe that's turning out boring — just remember that a little goes a long way."

    u/howlingfrog

    12. "Really think about what size you're cutting your vegetables in relation to the cook time. It's better to have a perfectly cooked, larger vegetable than a bunch of overcooked, mushy bite-sized pieces."

    u/JasonK87919

    A woman cutting vegetables
    Milosstankovic / Getty Images

    13. "Never, ever EVER throw water on a grease fire. Don’t try moving it either. Turn off the heat and place a lid on it, or smother it with baking soda if you don’t have a fire extinguisher. Also, consider buying a fire extinguisher if you don’t already have one."

    u/chris_the_earthenoid

    14. "Keep it simple. I see so many young chefs coming into the kitchen fresh out of the classroom, going hell for leather to make some strange gels, jellies, dehydrated this and that. Yes it can taste great, but just chill out. Show me if you can properly cook a joint of meat or know how to bring the best out of a simple, humble vegetable."

    u/bibBo

    15. "Measure by weight, not volume. This is more for baking than cooking. Baking is very sensitive to small changes in the ratio of different ingredients, and you'll have a lot easier time getting it right if you use a scale."

    u/howlingfrog

    A person measuring ingredients
    Freshsplash / Getty Images

    16. "Make your own vinaigrettes. It's easy, substantially cheaper, and tastes infinitely better and fresher than store-bought dressing. There are a million-and-one different ways to make a vinaigrette, and you'll figure out the exact ratios you like."

    u/djsedna

    17. "Tie. Your. Hair. I've watched so many people cook, and half the time they have their hair loose, just flying wherever it chooses."

    u/nellouse1

    18. "Heat pans for one minute before using and use less heat when cooking. Rarely will you ever need to go higher than 75% on the heat."

    u/Abigail716

    A person making eggs
    Kseniya Ovchinnikova / Getty Images

    19. "You can learn to cook better by simply making food. Even if you are following a recipe, you can and will get to know food over time."

    u/TooHardToFindName

    What cooking tips would you offer novices? Let us know in the comments.