Mise en place has its origin in French culinary. It literally translates to “put in place” or “everything in its place.“
The technique requires gathering all the ingredients and equipment you need, prepped and in the form you’ll need them, before you begin cooking.
When learning to cook, this concept helped me refine my amateurish chaotic approach.
Before applying mise en place, I felt rushed. I always wanted to enjoy cooking (because I loved great food), but didn’t feel like I was learning to cook. I was hustling from one task to the next, never stepping back to see what I was trying to accomplish. Often, each task took longer to prep than the previous step required to cook and I’d overcook my food.
There’s nothing enjoyable about mushy broccoli, burnt oven-roasted vegetables or dry chicken breast with a texture similar to day-long chewed gum. Sure, I’d stomach it down because it was edible and I didn’t want to have to cook again, but there aren’t many instances where I would have preferred standard airline food to a home cooked meal.
I’m biased towards action, often times to the detriment of planning.
Mise en place slowed me down. It helped me see cooking as a workflow. I began to see cooking similar to a math story problem. Before tackling the problem of cooking, I had to have all of the variables identified and organized so I could step back and see the big picture. With everything in place, I began focusing exclusively on application and technique.
Mise en place removed the noise by reordering my order of operations. It helped me get better at cooking. Mise en place showed me that the task was not the source of discontent but rather the process I was utilizing.
Learning to slow down and prepare before taking action made the rest of the journey flow effortlessly.
Mise en place may have its roots in cooking but it’s a concept that can be applied beyond the kitchen.