It’s Not You. It’s Your Kitchen.

This past week, Mike and I decided it was time to put in a few hours in the kitchen. Well, I decided, and I spent the majority of the time in the kitchen… but it felt really good to get behind the stoves again. As much as I love having a little time off, I’ve missed it.

So now you’re imagining Chao getting back on the metaphorical saddle–shaking a frying pan, testing a sauce, that sort of thing? I was quickly reminded of the serious drawbacks of being a home cook.

Take this photo, for example. You’ll see a few things wrong.


Mike did actually help, but I had to take advantage of that photo and rag on him just a little bit. You’d do the same, I am sure. But I’m getting off topic. Back to some of the downfalls and lessons learned in a West Loop condominium kitchen.

Lesson #1: TRASH

No matter where you cook, there will be a surplus of trash and recycling to deal with. It’s a fact of life, and it’s something that Mike’s bachelor pad starter trash can really couldn’t handle.

Which is why I brought in an industrial trash can. When you read the rest of this post, you’ll understand why taking the trash out every twenty minutes was not something I was interested in doing.

Lesson #2: DISHES

I went in a chef; I left a broken man with dishpan hands. Just kidding. Sort of. You’ll notice there is in fact a dishwasher in the photo, which is definitely nice to have, but it’s no match for the dishwashing team in a dishwashing room that I have become accustomed to in a restaurant kitchen.

After almost every step/dish, you have to go back and wash all the things you’ll need again in a few minutes–because there is only one set of tools (one blender, one frying pan, two pots…)

Lesson #3: TOOLS

So now we have a serious lack of implements, not to mention a kitchen–though nice, Mike–that wasn’t what you’d call “expansive.” (Although, I’ve worked in smaller, now that I think about it.) Beyond that, there’s also the quality of the tools/appliances around you.

Mike’s fridge was what you’d call ten pounds of s*** in a five-pound bag, and I won’t even begin to tell you about the drawbacks of a home stove/oven. (The ovens most chefs are used to would make the model in your kitchen look like an Easy Bake).


I knew that when I ran out of/needed something, I would need to go out and get it. What I didn’t know was how often. Good news: There’s a Dominick’s right down the street. Bad news: Most of the employees there now know me by name (and think I’m nuts). I’m not one for lists, which could have contributed to all of my visits.

If I was going to make this post have a “message,” it would be one of encouragement to all those downtrodden at-home cooks, who watch the chefs on TV and wonder why they can’t recreate it at home.

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