The only thing holding me back from truly enjoying cooking is that it takes so much of my time. The prepping, cooking, cleaning...

What techniques do professional chefs utilize to cook a three course meal in the time an average cook finishes seasoning a beef roast? How do you become more time efficient in the kitchen?

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    This is far too broad to answer I'm afraid. It's also open to opinion, everyone has tricks that work for them and their style. It also varies from kitchen to kitchen. – GdD Jan 5 '17 at 13:09
  • related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/44443/67 – Joe Jan 5 '17 at 14:27
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    No, I disagree. I have a 15 year old who comes over to cook and learn, he takes a long time, we work on this, it is getting better. This is an excellent question best answered by others, but, to the OP keep at it - it will get faster, learn as you go along. Enjoy what you do... Ignore the mods and ask what you want, the community will respond. – dougal 5.0.0 Jan 5 '17 at 16:27
  • @GdD How do you suggest to narrow it down? I believe time efficiency in our busy world is as crucial a technique as searing and knife skills. – Bar Akiva Jan 5 '17 at 20:40

Chefs, professional cooks (and experienced home cooks) do a LOT/MOST of the preparation in advance.

They prepare all vegetables in advance (clean, cut, blanched (if necessary). They prepare all meats and fish in advance (clean, cut...) They do all sauces in advance.

They have all ingredients at hands and know what ingredients to use for each dish they prepare.

They know how long each ingredient takes to cook (by virtue of experience).

If you have the chance to go to a restaurant with an open kitchen (where you can see the cooks cooking), you will see that they most assemble ingredients prepared in advance; they will usually cook the "protein" and re-heat the vegetables and assemble that on the plate.

The preparation time can be time consuming at first, but with experience you can more or less reduce that to nothing; You can cut and chop vegetables as you go in order of cooking time (for example, cut onions, put in pan, cut garlic, put in pan, cut tomatoes put in pan...)

The cooking part is the most important, either hot and fast or not so hot and slow; again, this is dependent on what you want to do; For example, a steak takes a few minutes, while a stew can take up to hours to cook.

For that, recipes are a good starting point; most of them do well in telling you how long it takes to prepare and cook the recipe.

Same thing for the cleaning part; if possible to it in parallel of other tasks, while the tomato sauce is simmering, clean bowls, boards and cutleries; wipe counter tops...

Don't wait up and let dirty dishes pile up (unless you have a nice boy/girl friend that will do the dishes and clean up after you :-) )

Good luck with that.


This is probably too broad for here, but without going into detail, I see three basic fields where the processes in a professional kitchen may differ from home cooks - leaving convenience products and lots of extra staff out of the calculation.

  1. Practise.
    There is a reason for the old saying "Practise makes perfect.". This includes not only your manual skills (remember the first time you peeled and diced an onion?), but also the speed by which you do the steps of a recipe. If I know the rations by heart or know what I'm going to cook, I'm much faster than when I try a new recipe and have to follow the steps in a cook book, read and re-read. And with practise, you simply "know" how much salt or which herbs you should take - no need to use the measuring spoon or scale.
  2. Organisation.
    Every professional kitchen relies on the mise en place (literally: "putting in (its) place") for quick cooking once the orders start rolling in - you can't start peeling tomatoes during service. So good time management transfers the preparatory steps to an earlier time (and possibly delegates the menial tasks to the help staff, so if you have helpers or children....). Likewise, look at your menu and decide which tasks can be done a) in advance, b) while other dishes don't need your attention.
    A good layout of the workspace, e.g. the kitchen work triangle or where and how you store your knives, pots or spices fall into the same category. Rule of thumb is "store things where you need them and have often-needed items or tools close by". So watch out for unnecessary steps - literally. There are no hard and fast rules, it depends on your needs. My immersion blender lives on the counter right next to the knife block, my mom's in a drawer in the pantry. Guess who uses hers daily.
  3. Tools.
    You need the right tools for your tasks. Mind, this does not mean you should fill your kitchen with every gadget and doodad on the market. Quite the contrary, too many unitaskers (aka clutter) makes storing and access difficult. But your tools should be in good shape and appropriate for the job. Knifes need to be sharp and fitting for the task (compare chopping a carrot with a blunt paring knife vs. with a sharp chef's knife!), cutting boards large and non-slip. The size of your pots and pans should correspond to the number of servings you usually cook...

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