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How to prevent common cooking mistakes, according to London's Michelin-starred chefs



Cooking shows are one of the most popular types of entertainment in the world right now, and many people want to practice the techniques of top chefs at home.

When you're hosting a dinner party, you might spend a long time searching for exciting recipes that your guests will love, before cooking everything on the night.

But Phil Thompson, Tony Fleming, Chris Eden, and Jeff Galvin — four of the most celebrated Michelin-starred chefs in the UK — think this is where most people go wrong.

"People always try to be too fancy," Thompson, who owns the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Thompson in St Albans, told Business Insider. "You should never run before you can walk."

Thompson, Fleming, and Eden all agreed that the temptation to wow your guests by cooking everything last minute is something everyone has done from time to time, and that is how most failures start out.

"Most people try to do things at the last minute like we do," Fleming said, who will run the kitchen at L'Oscar hotel in London when it opens later in the year.

But depending on what you're planning to serve, prepping some meals can take days. "We have armies of chefs to help us with this every day, but you don't have that at home."


If you're cooking with chickpeas, for example, they need to be softened in water for around eight hours. Soaking them overnight saves a rush the next day.

"It's really important to do as much preparation as you can in advance," he said, "so when it comes to the actual cooking process everything runs smoothly."

"If you try to do everything at the last minute, you're setting yourself up to fail," Eden said. "Some of us even fall flat on our faces, so preparation is key."

On Monday, September 26, the Michelin-starred chefs helped Dominic Teague, the head chef at One Aldwych in London's West End, prepare a four-course dinner in aid of Children with Cancer UK.

Even with five celebrated chefs in the room, mistakes can happen. While Eden prepared a chocolate and honeycomb dessert for the guests, Teague helped him count how many biscuit bases were done and ready to be plated.

Dominic the Executive Head Chef helping Mr @pennypots count!!! Bless him

A photo posted by Phil Thompson (@philthompson78) on Sep 26, 2016 at 1:55pm PDT on


Eden, who runs Driftwood in Cornwall, said the best practice is to write down all the stages you need to go through before you start cooking — even things as simple as peeling and chopping vegetables.

"Then you know what you're up against and you'll find it easier to do things in stages," he said.

Overthinking your meal can also mean buying exotic ingredients you've never cooked with before to make it memorable. But Galvin, who is currently the executive chef at L'Escargot in London, said even chefs like to keep it simple when they're not at work.

"People can often try to be too clever," he said. "Just buy some simple, fresh ingredients and cook them in a simple way. That's what I do at home."

All the chefs agreed that cooking should always be a pleasure, so you shouldn't give yourself too much work or worry about some meals taking a long time to come together.

"Cooking should be fun," Thompson said. "If you think about a Sunday roast, people take all day to cook one meal, and that's how it should be. It's relaxing and rewarding. Take your time, and don't overthink it."

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