4 Culinary Methods to Master If You Want To Be A Professional Chef


If you want to master a skill, you don’t need to overwhelm yourself. Keep it simple and just start doing. If you think you want to become a chef, you have three meals a day where you have opportunities to hone your skills. You will put yourself ahead of curve if you start practicing and developing these skills in your everyday life. One meal at a time. One ingredient at a time. One article or video at a time.

Chef Todd Mohr, Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) teaches his students methods instead of recipes. That way, you have the skills to take any ingredient and create your own adaptable dishes any time. He believes that “simple cooking is the best cooking” and that the use of quality ingredients prepared with the proper methods are all you need to be a good cook.

“When home cooks discover the dependable, repeatable, reliable METHODS in cooking, this builds confidence. With confidence comes creativity, and that’s when they are truly Care Free and cook the way THEY want with the foods THEY desire.”

— Chef Todd Mohr

Here are some of the METHODS you can learn and practice to start. In addition to what we have linked here, you can look up articles, blogs, social media or videos to help you develop any of these skills. If this sounds like repeated information you already know, really watch yourself to see if you’re practicing them at a professional level.

1. Cleanliness and Sanitation.

The goal here is to eliminate cross contamination. Most people think about this in terms of bacterial growth in raw meats and other foods, which is very important. It’s also important to keep ingredients separate for people with allergies. You never know who will come across your food that is allergic to a simple tomato, pineapple, peanut or grain.

  • Make sure that food is kept at the proper temperature prior to and during preparation
  • Wash your hands before any food handling happens and throughout the cooking process especially after handling raw meat.
  • Make sure all produce is washed properly. Use non toxic cleaning agents and learn techniques for properly drying produce so it’s not too wet when you go to prepare your meal.
  • Understand how to wash and sanitize all work and serving surfaces.

2. Understand the 5 Flavor Profiles:

  • sweet
  • sour
  • salty
  • bitter
  • umami

Learn what these flavors really are. How they connect your taste buds to your brain and how your brain sends signals of deep appreciation for the flavor.

Learn to identify them every time you eat. Do you like it? Do you not like it? Why or why not? You’ll start to develop an understanding of what goes together and why. This will be a great foundation to learning the difference between food that tastes really good and food that is just “eh“.

3. Knife Skills

Any job you get as a chef will require you to have knife skills. In a Plating 101 article Chef Herve Malivert notes that knife skills are one of the most important skills when it comes to plating beautiful pieces of art. Right behind the skill of making food taste good.

The Spruce did an excellent representation of some of the most basic knife skills you would need to know. Their article includes photos, sizes and pronunciation of terms. This article in Master Class gives a few tips on the technique of cutting vegetables and reviews the cutting styles as well.

If you don’t already have a chef’s knife, and don’t have money to spend on one right now, you can use what you already have at home or find knives at a yard sale or thrift store. Then get yourself a knife sharper and learn to use it well, you will be able to practice your knife skills without having to spend a lot of money.

4. Foundational Cooking Methods

Master each of these skills and you will be one step ahead of the average home chef and well on your way to a professional environment.

  • sauté
  • grill
  • broil
  • poach
  • roast
  • braise
  • fry
  • poêle

In addition to learning these individually, check on Chef Todd’s 7 Skills he tests potential chefs on during the interview process. You can also review this Good Food article, 25 Skills Every Cook Should Know.