7 Celeb Chefs Share the Best Cooking Lesson They Learned From Their Moms
We learn a lot from our moms, but for these celeb chefs, they learned memorable tips from the kitchen. Ahead of Mother’s Day, we asked pros including Wolfgang Puck, Anne Burrell, and Timothy Hollingsworth to share the top lessons their mothers taught them. When it comes to following recipes exactly and selecting the right ingredients, Mom really does know best.
“What I learned from my mother is that cooking is simple if you have great ingredients. When I would cook with her, we would prepare a simple meal from the vegetables we picked in her garden and she would tell me, ‘Use five or six ingredients and take out something. It’s like editing.’ The natural flavors should already complement one another.” — Wolfgang Puck
“Every year for my birthday my mother would send me to school with anise seed cookies for the class, and I still love to munch on these lovelies today. The biggest cooking lesson she taught me when I was little however, was to read the entire recipe first. I was so excited to cook that I would just tear in and combine all the ingredients, but my mom showed me just how important it is to take the time to go through a recipe beforehand.” — Anne Burrell
Giancarlo “Wendy” Cacciatori
“The best cooking lessons I learned are from my grandmother, hence the name of my New York City restaurant Nonna Beppa. As a kid, I’d always steal her tortellini from the table, because it was that delicious. We used to spend hours in the kitchen rolling it. She made it look like a game, but it really was the best gift she had ever gave me. She taught me that you need to have the exact proportion of each ingredient. Make sure that the flattened dough is not too dry, or else it won’t stick together and the stuffing will come out once the pasta boils.” — Giancarlo “Wendy” Cacciatori
“I have very fond memories of learning how to make steamed ginger scallion fish and white rice with my mom in our kitchen. Steaming a fish is a tough skill to master as the fish can easily come out too fishy or mushy, and the key my mother taught me is using the precise amount of water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the steamer, using the freshest ingredients (ginger, scallion, and cilantro) to brighten the dish, and serving the dish immediately.” — Philippe Chow
“My mother and maternal grandmother taught me to cook when I was a kid on St. Lucia. My grandmother would come in the kitchen every morning and create a prep list for the day. That taught me that preparation was the key to a great meal. Have your dishes planned, your ingredients already in the house, and your timing thought out. I still carry those lessons with me today at my restaurants Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans.” — Nina Compton
“My mom is one of my biggest inspirations. She is Greek and Sicilian, so our whole life revolved around the kitchen when I was growing up. Now, she’s the inspiration behind our restaurant, Angeline, at Borgata in Atlantic City. The restaurant is named after her and lot of the dishes are modeled after her classic recipes, including our version of ‘Mom’s Lasagne’ that I grew up eating every Wednesday. One of her tricks is to put the ricotta mixture in a plastic zip bag (or piping bag) to make sure it spreads evenly and quickly. Another one of mom’s tips is to always cover the lasagne with foil when it first goes into the oven and then remove for the last 10 minutes to get brown and crispy on top.” — Michael Symon
“My mother-in-law is from Iraq and my mom’s from the South. So from my mom’s recipes, the things that I make are her banana bread, her chili, her chicken and dumplings, and her Sunday roast. All of the food I grew up on; that’s really nostalgic for me. From my mother-in-law, we have a dish on the menu at Otium, and it’s a based off an Iraqi dish that’s called masgouf, basically catfish with a tomato turmeric curry sauce. The first time I tasted my mother-in-law’s dish I thought, ‘Wow — that’s really really good. Now how can I make it a little bit differently?’ With our version of it, which has been on the menu since day one, the sauce is served fresh. We serve a spoonful of this tomato curry with grilled fish and shaved vegetables, topped with a lot of lemon juice.” — Timothy Hollingsworth
(Photos via Wolfgang Puck, Own Your Kitchen by Anne Burrell, Nonna Beppa, Philippe Chow, Compère Lapin, Angeline, and C Flanigan / Getty)
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