Would you enter “My Kitchen Rules“? As you watch the contestants prep, cook and plate up their best efforts to their critical diners, do you feel the urge to pick up your chef’s knife and wooden spoon and join the next lot of contestants?
We ask ourselves that question as we sit on the couch in our pj’s, munching on a cheese toastie and commenting freely on their efforts, and the answer is a very quick “No way!”. The amount of organization, coordination and ability to cook under pressure that would be required is way beyond us. It’s enough getting a meal on the table for five every night. And that’s one course and not particularly fancy.
But perhaps you wish to enter and, naturally, win. As couch critics, we are uniquely qualified to give you some helpful tips.
- Enter. Coerce a willing victim – partner, friend or family member – and convince them it will be fun. Or hold out the lure of the big cash prize, or becoming a tv chef or cookbook writer.
- Know your stuff. It definitely helps.
- Practice. Cook a fancy three course meal for 24 people. Do it in several hours less than you need. Have at least one major thing go wrong during the preparation. Get someone to film you and provide them with a running commentary. Make it obvious – e.g “I’m stirring the sauce. If this doesn’t turn out, I won’t be able to serve it. I’ll be going home for sure”. Keep this up the entire time.
- Ask for
criticismhelpful feedback. When you’re exhausted and stressed after getting all this food on the table for your guests, stand there and ask them to criticize your food. Do not throw something at them. Instead, smile and thank them. In extreme circumstances a small tear is permitted.
- Go and do the dishes. (For 24 people? Surely not? They must have kitchen hands that come in and do it..) Otherwise, use paper plates.
- Decide on your tv persona. Happy, bubbly and all-round nice person? Or critical, angry, easy-to-dislike contestant?
- Practice getting excited about Pete and Manu’s suits.
We hope that’s helpful. But if it all sounds too difficult (especially as it definitely involves getting off the couch and out of your pj’s) we have another option.
- Run your own competition.
- Write your own rules.
What would it take for your kitchen to rule?
- Who can cook in your kitchen? Anybody who wants to cook is a winner in my kitchen. Especially if they are cooking for the rest of us. Just so long as they clean up after themselves. (But first prize goes to my sister-in-law and nieces, who come for a two week holiday every year and shop, cook and bake up a storm. From slow-cooked roasts to desserts, cakes and biscuits, we never eat so well.) However, maybe you like to be the sole cook, and keep the kitchen entirely as your domain.
- What can be cooked? I’m game for most things, but generally I like it to be nutritious and based on fresh food. What’s the dish from your kitchen you love the most? From toast to roast, soup to salads to spaghetti, what meals from your kitchen make you happy?
- What equipment should your kitchen have? Are you a gadget junkie, with an appliance for every different purpose? What’s your five absolute must-have’s?
- How tidy does your kitchen need to be? Do you like a spotless bench, with everything hidden out of sight, and nothing but a bowl of green apples and a vase of flowers tastefully arranged? Or do you like the bits and pieces scattered around – the used chopping board, the empty coffee cup, the plate with toast crumbs still on it – that show signs of life and use?
- What’s the heart of your kitchen? What feeling do you want it to have? Is it a place people love to be? Is it where family life happens? Or is cooking and kitchen work a chore?
For me, for my kitchen to rule, I want it to be a place where everybody feels welcome, loved and provided for. I don’t care if it’s a slap-up meal or toast and vegemite – I’d rather serve simple food and be calm and happy, than stress about getting something amazing out. I want people to feel at home, to feel free to put the kettle on or pour themselves (and me!) a glass of wine after a long day. I want them to smell something delicious on the stove, or at least be able to fossick about in the fridge and pantry and find the makings of a meal. I like the benches to be relatively uncluttered, and the dishes done, just because I love to be and work in a clear space. I want to enjoy being there.
Then I’ll definitely be able to say “My Kitchen Rules“.
You might also enjoy my mother’s childhood memories of her kitchen from 70 years ago here.