The Biggest Mistake People Make In The Kitchen, According To Chef Marcela Valladolid - Exclusive

From her various cooking shows, numerous cookbooks, and hands-on, in-person classes, to more recent Zoom cooking workshops prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, chef Marcela Valladolid has a whole lot of experience working with people who are learning to cook — or in other words, she has a lot of experience working with people who have a lot to learn about cooking. While you don't need to attend multiple cooking schools, work in professional kitchens, host Food Network shows, or have authored cookbooks like she has, if you want to be even halfway decent at working with food, you need to heed her main piece of advice: slow down!

Asked what is the biggest mistake people make in the kitchen, Valladolid said: "I think [it's that] they rush. They rush. And I think the best is, if you're starting out, if you're not an advanced cook and you want to really get into it, I think really reading your recipes... taking the time to, what we call the mise en place, which is getting your stuff in order. [Beginning with ingredients] chopped up, properly measured, that takes away so much of the anxiety, versus trying to pull ingredients as you cook... Being fully prepared before you jump into a recipe."

Marcela Valladolid says in the kitchen, preparation is key

Okay, so you've decided to take things slow, fully read through the whole recipe, and you have all the ingredients and tools you'll need to make it. Does that mean you are ready to get cooking? Not quite, says Valladolid.

"For me... the most helpful thing is to literally — it might seem silly — but I say your kitchen needs to be impeccably clean, and you need to have out all of the ingredients and the utensils that you're going to need before you start. Once you're a seasoned chef, like I don't do this now all of the time, but when you're at that beginning stage, just remove 60, 70 percent of the anxiety by being fully prepared before you jump into a recipe." Seems simple enough!

Once you get started, don't worry if things get messy

One of the things Valladolid has loved about her new experience with live online cooking classes is sharing the real, raw look of a working kitchen that audiences tend to miss when watching cooking shows. "It's messy." she says, "and I love doing [live classes], because sometimes I'm cooking [and] I have to bring out a blender that I forgot I was going to use during that class, and it's my busted blender. I think it's a great way, especially for beginner cooks in my classes... for them it's like: 'Oh, it's so great to see you [aren't perfect]'" 

Valladolid adds that: "On TV, you're literally bringing out swaps, and everything is so clean and everything is so perfect. Here, you can literally see me stacking bowls, you can see me having to start all over again if my pan got too hot. We haven't burned anything as of yet, but I love even if I'm a clean freak in the kitchen, I'm a clean as you go kind of gal, and even then, I love that they see that it's just a messy, it's a messy process, and it's not perfect."

You can watch chef Marcela Valladolid make a mess with superstar Selena Gomez on season two of Selena + Chef, streaming now on HBO Max.