What is a “mise en place”?

The “Mise en place” is a French cooking term used in professional kitchens which can be translated literally as: “to put in place” which does make too much sense in English. But, since I am a French  and I understand both French and English I will try to explain what the “mise en place” really means.

The first thing to know is that the ‘mise en place”  is a basic task which is usually assigned to the commis de cuisine ( kitchen hand) when working in large French professional kitchens. The reason for that is that like in an office, in french kitchens there is hierarchy that exist, and the most important title you have the less mundane task and responsibilities you will be given.

So when the commis de cuisine is preparing the “mise en place”, he is effectively washing peeling and cutting vegetables,slicing tomatoes and green salads,detailing garnishes and herbs, replenishing container with specific ingredients and everything and anything that will be used during the service.

There is also a specicifc mise en place for everyone. And quite Often when you are a commis de cuisine ( and I have been there) each chef de partie ( Demi chef) will have a list of things for you to do, that contains all of the things that needs preparing for their specific area, so the amounts and type of mise en place can vary greatly.

in plain English the “mise en place” simply means gathering and preparing all the ingredients you need  before you can start cooking.

For the home cooks who wants to improve their cooking skills. it is vital to get yourself organised before preparing or cooking anything. Why? Simply because when you have all your ingredients at hand clean and ready to be used you will spend more time being creative and find ways to improve your dish rather then firefighting the mess around the kitchen and run around to get all the stuff you need.

For a good mise en place at home  take the habit of doing the following:
  1. Gather your ingredients and have them ready stored in individual clean containers.
  2. Always start by washing and peeling your vegetables.
  3. Only do the chopping and slicing once the above is done.
  4. When your ingredients are ready stored them in the fridge if not used immediately.
  5. Don’t forget the decoration and garnishes (chop parsley,cut brunoise and jullienne).

Try to follow these simple steps and you will see what a difference It can make with your everyday cooking.

The French Cooking Academy

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