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Kitchen 101: Talk Like A Chef

Whether you want to be a chef or just sound like one when you cook, today you’ll learn how to talk like a chef!


Reading a Recipe

A recipe is a set of instructions used to prepare food.

There are two parts of a recipe:

  • Ingredients: lists what you need and how much
  • Steps: gives the step by step instructions on what to do


Can you find the ingredients and steps in the recipe below?

Recipe Abbreviations

Many recipes use abbreviations (shortened versions of words) to make them easier to read.  These are some of the most common abbreviations you will see!

  • tsp: teaspoon
  • Tbs or Tbsp: tablespoon
  • C: cup
  • oz: ounce
  • F: Fahrenheit
  • lb: pound
  • S&P: salt and pepper

Setting Up

Before you start cooking a recipe you have to gather all your ingredients and tools.

This set-up has a special name: mise en place.

Mise en place means “everything in place” in French.


Here is an example of what mise en place looks like in one of our kitchen classrooms!



Now that you have your mise en place ready, you can start preparing your ingredients to cook (also called “prep”).

Here are some words you might see in a recipe to prepare your ingredients:

  • Stir: combining all of what is in a bowl, pot or saucepan
  • Whisk: using a whisk or fork to incorporate air and make a light and fluffy mixture
  • Fold: gently mixing light ingredients together using an over-and-under turning technique
  • Zest: using a grater to peel off small pieces of citrus fruit skins (like lemon or orange)
  • Grease: covering a baking pan with oil or butter to prevent food from sticking
  • Knead: pushing and turning dough to mix and strengthen the ingredients
  • Season: add flavor to food by adding herbs, spices, salt and pepper
  • To Taste: adding more of an ingredient (usually salt/pepper) to suit your taste

What preparation word do you think is happening in the picture below? Is it zesting or stirring?


If you have done all your prep, you are now ready to cook!

Here are some words commonly used when cooking:

  • Bake: cooking in an oven under a dry heat without direct contact with the flame
  • Broil: to cook food under a direct source of heat
  • Sauté: cooking gently in a small amount of fat (like butter or oil)
  • Boil: cooking by putting food into hot bubbling liquid
  • Simmer: cooking food in a liquid that is almost boiling (you will see little bubbles)
  • Emulsify: combining two liquids that do not usually mix together by mixing them forcefully
  • Stir-Fry: cooking food at a high heat in a small amount of oil, while stirring constantly


Now that you’ve learned some chef vocabulary, find a recipe you’d like to cook and see what words you recognize.