How do you spot a serious home cook?


I don’t feel they have to have a wide array of dishes they’ve mastered, but if they have a few that they are passionate about and make well, I’d call them a serious cook. They don’t have to be ready for Iron
Chef, but knowing and appreciating the difference between a can of pork and beans and scratch made? Serious.

I remember when I first came across the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. I thought she might be quite fun and interesting. Then I read her pork and beans recipe and it was bacon and cans of pork and beans. I don’t even call that cooking. It’s reheating. It has it’s place when time is short, but if I invite people over for a meal, I’m going to make as much as I can from scratch.

(Dan) #43

A serious cook takes personal pride in the preparation with or without an audience.


This is really time and energy dependent. Sometimes when I’m cooking for just me and the Wife I make everything from scratch, but sometimes we have store bought, fancy wieners on the grill. What I take pride in is serving something delicious, that we both enjoy, whether it’s scratch made or not. But when people are taking the time and trouble to come out to our place I usually go the extra mile.

(Dan) #45

Good for you! I respect that.
My years working on the road with or without a team is showing. Ask me how much I enjoy feeding the people I care about vs. the days daydreaming about it! But honestly now that I have the time I really enjoy cooking for myself as much or more than cooking for others. I want to improve many skills that have been resting😆


What is on the menu or in the fridge is often dependent upon circumstances.

I think two things cause me to think a person is a serious cook:

  1. Being able to make something from what is available and with out recipes. This indicates an understanding of ingredients - how to use them and knowing what each piece brings to the whole. No lemon? How about vinegar or pickle brine… Ability to cook with out a recipe is possible with an understanding of ratios, technique, kitchen chemistry and experience.

  2. Thirst for knowledge. A person who is serious about cooking knows they don’t know everything and that there is always something new to learn. They seize the opportunity to explore new ingredients and techniques. They understand and respect the regional/historic basis of a dish while being open to newer riffs.

I was at a cooking group pot luck once. Recipes were predetermined and you were expected to prepare your dish as written. Verbal report and general critique were performed at the end of the shared meal.

My dish called for using a prepared mango chutney. A woman asked which chutney I had used. I used a Major Grey I responded. With a look of disdain she replied icily " I asked what type not which brand". I explained Major Grey was a style of chutney and available by many different brands. She begged to differ. I stopped responding 'cos some people just aren’t worth bothering with. My estimation of her cooking knowledge went way down after this exchange!

There is no shame in not knowing. Thinking you know it all is the surest sign you don’t and seriously impedes your ability to learn new things.


Years working on the road? I’m guessing there is a story behind that, if you care to share, I’d care to read it.

(Dan) #48

LOL, it’s completely off topic so I will try to be short and sweet. I retired this year from four decades in the entertainment business. Straight out of high school I was a rag tag roadie. Six years in, a lucky break as a guitar tech and slowly worked my way through the live circuit. In no particular order… Tour bus, local Wrangler, live radio DJ, soup to nuts travel production, met my wife, an entertainment lawyer, had a son and started representing her clients as a for hire Wrangler…which entails a host of people skills and patience galore. I loved the work, the people, the crews and man do I love the music😉. Now I’m finding my footing as house husband, chief cook and wine bottle washer and I get to spend TIME with my grown son any time HE wants. That’s my story, ha!


Good read. Couldn’t help it:

(Dan) #50

Awesome, man!


Ah ah, so I’m guessing you did a fair amount of cooking on the road? Hot plate in a hotel or did you rent apartments with a kitchen?

Swear this is the last off topic question, it is semi cooking related. :slight_smile:

(Dan) #52

Actually… mostly no. Alot of take away, tour bus mini kitchen, hired cooks when we could, and once at the gig alot of junk food, local joints, booze and the occassional chefy fare. The last few years the jobs were bigger and so were the perks. At one point I had to see drs. because my diet was awful. The best meals were a few more recent festivals. The greatest meals were after the tour was over, everybody got paid (hopefully) and we took breaks got to use the plane until the contract ended. Those meals were enjoyed once the work was behind us. Not as food centric as you might think. Remember being lean on tour is sorta necessary. We fatten up after👍. My meager cooking skills went to shit because I wasn’t using them. I have been re-learning. I started baking bread…


I can see your passion!
Do you need to get adjusted to this life now, staying in one place all the time?

(Dan) #54

Yes, my sleeping patterns are awful. I bought new clothes, nothing in black! I have to be smart about what I eat and I swim at the Y.

I find preparing food very energizing and meditative at the same time. This forum has helped a great deal to just DO IT. :wink: and it might sound odd but food shopping is a guilty pleasure.


I like your new job description. It’s one I aspire to. I’m good at it. Managing employees not so much as I’m finding near the end of my career. I’ve always thought the “house wife” was a fine career

i never understood the issues.

(Dan) #56

Haha! Welcome aboard.

(John) #57

Serious cooks have sharp knives. Not necessarily great knives but sharp ones.


One more for the:

(Dan) #59

Lol, I will def pick up work if I go stir crazy. :wink:

(Kathy S. ) #60

That’s an interesting question, I believe there’s a difference between a “serious” home cook and a “great” home cook.

It’s easy to spot the great home cooks at a party. Everyone eats their food. Everyone awaits their food. Everyone came for their food. Most likely from years of home cooking, they have figured out what people like, and how to cook it. It is rarely the frou frou food that “serious” cooks love to talk about.

They usually (not always) have the basic techniques down. They know how to serve food at the correct temperature, they know basic knife skills (or at least enough to know what cuts make the food tastier, i.e. a dice as opposed to a mince), the food looks like something you’d want to eat. Ingredients are fresh and good quality. Food is seasoned properly.

Basically, if people like your food, you’re a great home cook. I don’t really care if they’re “serious”. Some of the worst meals of my life have been from “serious” cooks.

(Dan) #61

Interesting comment because your perspective relies in great part on the experience had by those eating the food. So if I’m following you a great home cook needs an audience to validate the qualifications of the person preparing the food. If that’s the case, I’d feel like I was being hired rather than sharing my best effort.

There’s another HO topic on words that are used so often they lose meaning or are now cringe worthy food descriptions. I think the word great has lost all meaning. At least the word serious speaks to the person preparing the food.

More to ponder…