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More than knowing which flavors pair perfectly with others or how to achieve perfect peaks in their whipped cream, chefs are masters of knowing how to maximize efficiency and productivity in the kitchen. They know their tools, their recipe hacks and the best kitchen practices. And so, we’ve compiled this list of in-home kitchen tips used by top chefs and in professional kitchens around the world. You’ll feel like a pro when you apply these secrets to your own recipes at home.

Prep Everything in Advance
Mise en place is when a chef measures, chops, cuts, slicles, dices and all around prepares ingredients before the stove is turned on or the oven preheaded. This technique is the basics of any cooking class, and chefs rely on it to save time and avoid disastrous kitchen tragedies. “A good home cook is part ballet dancer, part chemist, part juggler, part anthropologist, part laborer, and part project manager,” says Cooking Light. But mise en place allows all those parts to work seamlessly together to create the best dishes.

Keep your knives sharp
It may seem like common sense, but a sharp knife will be better able to tackle whatever chopping job needs doing in your kitchen. Sharpen your knife using a long, slow stroke of your knife over a whetstone before you use it.  But how do you know when your knife is sharp? Rachel Ray says that “a sharp blade will slice a ripe tomato or a rolled-up sheet of paper cleanly and effortlessly.” Keeping your knife out of the dishwasher will help lengthen its life and keep it sharper longer.

Store your Ingredients Properly
Just because your refrigerator is equipped with a vegetable or fruit drawer doesn’t mean those are the best places to put your broccoli or avocados when you get home from the grocery store. And should lemons be treated the same way as tomatoes? Martha Stewart recommends leaving vegetables and fruits like onion, garlic, potatoes and tomatoes on the counter because the cooler temperatures ruin the flavors and textures.

Use a Large Cutting Board
Don’t rely on miniature cutting boards because that’s what you have. By investing in the largest cutting board that will fit your space, you avoid a continuous shuffle of things to cut up in your space. Have room for it all with one large cutting board. And better yet, color code the space so you never chop veggies for salad where you’ve already sliced chicken.

Invest in Iron Cookware
Despite being harder to manage than its non-stick equivalent, cast iron cookware is a secret tool when it comes to making a chef’s recipes memorable. The improved heat control and overall durability makes these pans the go-to choices for chefs worldwide, plus their versatility is remarkable; cast iron can go on the stovetop, in the oven or anywhere. Make sure you season cast iron pans before use with vegetable oil or shortening. According to BHG, this “seals interior and exterior surfaces to keep out moisture, prevent rust from forming, and create a smooth, shiny surface that quickly releases cooking foods.” But always, always avoid soap.

Utensils Should do Double Duty
Avoid fad utensils that are only for specialty dishes, and instead rely on kitchen tools that can serve two purposes. Stick with classic utensils that you know you will use over and over again, and save the precious space you have in your kitchen for cooking and storing only what you truly need.

Clean as You Go
Remember that a clean kitchen is easier to cook in. If your kitchen is littered with butter wrappers and vegetable skins, with dirty measuring cups and random utensils by the time you are nearing the end of your recipe, you are likely to miss an important last step or over cook what is in the pan while you search for your spatula. Throw trash away as you go, put dirty dishes and kitchen tools in the sink, if not in the dishwasher as you go. This will make clean up after your meal easier and ensure your dish is perfectly prepared.

When you follow these simple kitchen tips that the chefs use, you can feel like a pro in your own kitchen. By focusing on the process and the tools that you use, you become more efficient, and you are able to make your dishes as memorable as any top chef’s recipes.

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