Perhaps you have heard the saying, “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” It is a memorable saying that reminds us that if we want to be successful, we must first spend time preparing for the task at hand. This principle is essential for success in the kitchen and is known as mise en place.
Four Essential Steps of Mise en Place:
- Assemble tools
- Assemble ingredients
- Wash, trim, cut, prepare and measure raw materials
- Prepare equipment (pre-heat oven or pan, line sheet pan with parchment, etc.)
What is Mise en Place?
Mise en place (rhymes with “cheese on sauce”) is a French term that literally means to put in place. It describes all of the advance preparation that is critical in commercial kitchens before the doors open for business but can also be helpful for the home chef. In commercial kitchens the chef gathers, prepares, and organizes all the necessary ingredients. Vegetables are chopped. Salad greens are washed. Sauces and stocks are prepared. Cuts of protein are trimmed and portioned. The chef also gathers and organizes all the necessary tools he will need once the meal service period begins. When he completes his mise en place, the chef should have everything he needs within reach to assemble every dish at his station. There is no time during the lunch or dinner rush to stop and prepare an ingredient you need for a dish. Let’s say you have a strip steak on your menu served with a bearnaise sauce. If you failed to make enough sauce during your mise en place, you will not be able to sell that dish. What happens when you run out of that sauce and you still have three steak orders to fill? Some of your guests are going to walk away disappointed.
For the home cook or every day average person taking a few moments of time to plan out meals and prep ingredients can help alleviate stress and can improve nutrition by having a guide or plan for what will be eaten throughout the day or week. This can look different for each person and is not generally done at the same level as a chef like in th example given previously. Mise en place for the home chef may include looking up and planning recipes, grocery shopping for all of the ingredients they will need, pre chopping fruits and vegetables, and making sure meat is thawed prior to being cooked.
In the kitchen, mise en place can help control the chaos.