Efficiency tips in kitchen

Thanks for sharing this. You are literally the only other person I have met (well, virtually anyway) who remembers the blessing of the throats ritual on St. Blaise Day!

To bring this closer to topic, I always feel for pinbones in any fish I am preparing. I keep a pair of needle nose pliers in the kitchen specifically for this purpose. I allow time for this in my prep countdown. So in a roundabout way, maybe the St. Blaise blessing did something because it keeps me vigilant about removing pinbones from fish so nobody gets one caught in their throat :wink:


I would have thought this was SOP., following the old adage “an ounce of prevention…” And, yes, needle nose pliers are a favorite “reach for” tool. You soon learn where to look/feel for bones in the varieties of fish you usually buy.


I remember at school there was a dinner “exchange”. One young woman from my living group was having terrible trouble dealing with bone-in fish, constantly removing bones from her mouth. A guy from the participating group finally said, “Haven’t you ever eaten fish before?” Rude, perhaps, but highlighting the truth of needing to learn about how to eat various foods.


I use an eyebrow tweezers which I find more precise than the 2 pinbones tweezers I owned. I remove the pinbones if it’s a fine dining meal.

Thanks for the reminder, will add this in the preparation time as well, sometimes, this can take a lot of time.


When I prepare meal for friends, I try to include in the menu, a seafood dish, a meat dish and a vegetarian dish, which one can get rid the yogurt or egg to become a vegan dish. Usually I also try to have a gluten-free option integrated among the 3 three dishes proposed above. Meat option nowadays can be tricky, as there are more and more non pork eaters. For those who have certain dislike for certain ingredients (nothing to do with allergies), especially for children, sorry, they just get rid of what they don’t like.


Great idea! Easier to clean too than the needle nose pliers I have.

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A bit surprise nobody does the planning with pen and paper. I work a lot on computer, but find it a bit more spontaneous and quicker with paper. Of course with spreadsheet, you can reuse for next time.


It’s interesting how fish fillets seem to be the norm in the US & Europe but not the rest of the world.

Around here (nyc), most (Mediterranean) restaurants that have whole fish on the menu ask if you want it to be taken off the bone - either in the kitchen or table-side.

Not so Asian restaurants, though - perhaps the assumption is if you order whole fish at a Chinese restaurant, you know how to eat it? Thai places are mixed - when they offer deep-fried whole fish, it’s sometimes cubed and fried, then served with the similarly cooked whole carcass, for those who want to pick bits off that - like the cheeks. Indian restaurants here rarely have anything with bones on the menu - fish/chicken/meat. I thought it was because they mainly catered to a Western clientele, and bone-in proteins are all harder to eat with a fork than they are with your fingers (or chopsticks).

I still see salmon steaks at the fish counter, but everything else is fillets - unless you get a whole fish to cook yourself.

So I guess an addendum to “have you eaten fish before?” might be “where?”

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We are very lucky. Or else we tend to get together with people with similar “omnivore” palates. Everything goes, including offal. Cooking for these people is a JOY!


How large are your parties usually?

Good post! Yes, most fish offerings here are filet or steak, which has an obvious central bone. But, yes, I remember sitting next to a diner at a small Paris bistro. We had each ordered a whole fish. The on-plate-butchering was pretty obvious to me but the other lady had considerable problems. Interestingly, she ws Asian, but possibly used to having fish cooked in small pieces.

Usually around 8-12 people. 4-5 courses meal. Some exceptions with neighbours can get up to 25-30 (those are less frequent), those will be more simple meals with little plates, pizzas, paella or barbecue.

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I don’t understand… of course one would remove bones from their mouth? What are we supposed to do, swallow them? Makes no sense to me. I was taught to chew thoughtfully, and gracefully remove the bones to the side of my plate.
[Third gen Chinese; we eat whole fish at family dinners, and recall that for childhood “English” meals, often had fish steaks]

  1. Holiday dinners are immediate family (17 or 8 depending on which family), and constructed as “bring a dish” dinners. I plan the menu, and assign dishes (key ingredient and preparation, but not specific recipes) to the attendees. Think “please bring brussels sprouts” or “leafy salad”, but no particular preparation. I then also note which contributions will require stovetop finishing, which contributors are notoriously late arrivals, and who is traveling by transit. The dietary restrictions in our group include dairy- and gluten-free, and allergies to tomatoes, coconut and corn. Some folks won’t eat everything, but everyone will get something.
  2. Dinner with friends; max 8. Rarely timed, formal affairs. Often a group of cooks cooking together. So we plan the menu via email/text/video. I organize the shopping list, and make assignments (or someone will offer to bring elements for a particular dish). As the host, I sort out cocktails, wine, the tableware required.
  3. Dinner for clients. All allergies and dietary restrictions are considered prior to menu planning. A site visit of the kitchen is conducted. Then the menu and pricing are fixed. I do a complete workback schedule, shopping/equipment list right down to the spices/condiments/cocktail spoons. My day-of spreadsheet has timing points and the exact tableware to be used for each dish. I take a binder with other notes, and invoicing etc.
    Yes. Spreadsheets are involved in each of these scenarios. Often pen & paper first. Occasionally a chalkboard or whiteboard in the kitchen on the day-of.

What kind of clients, if I may ask? In my buisness “clients” means behavioral health patients. We don’t do dinners.

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I’m a personal chef :wink:


How many courses do you usually prepared? Do the clients eat the same course the same time, or they arrive and eat at all in different times, like in a restaurant?

In my experience, in the UK, it’s usual for a whole fish to be served on the bone. No offer to debone. But, in comparision with fillets, it’s relatively uncommon to see a whole fish on a menu. We did see plaice and sole when we were at the coast the other week - but these are fish where the flesh easily slides off the bone.


In France whole fish on bones can be served as well. Big fish arrive at the table then divided among the guests without deboned. With smaller fish, each person can have a whole fish serve on each plate, they take care of the bones. Deboned fish filets is popular with children guests or more refine meals that is plated or served individually. (Also popular with fast food and canteen.)

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When I was a little girl in the US Midwest, my dad traveled to Europe for business. When he returned, one of us had caught some trout, and he carefully sauteed it whole and taught us how to slide the flesh from the bone, so that “one day when you grow up and go to Paris, you’ll know how to do this”

Fast forward a few decades, and I did grow up and go to Paris (living there was still another couple of decades in the future). I ordered trout one night because that would seal my dad’s prediction.

I was still pretty surprised to be at a European trade show with an American colleague…and have to take his trout off the bone for him because he couldn’t do it.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold