Chef Pati Jinich Says These Are The Mistakes Most Home Cooks Make - Exclusive

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Today, the world knows Pati Jinich as a chef that has penned multiple cookbooks, hosted beloved cooking shows, won prestigious awards, and produced moving documentaries — and she is generally recognized as one of the most influential chefs working in Mexican cuisine (per her official website). But, Jinich didn't set out intending to cook professionally — that came after she changed lanes entirely, turning her attention to the food of her heritage as she left behind a career as a political analyst.

During a recent exclusive interview with Mashed, Jinich said, "I realized that by way of cooking in the kitchen I could connect more with people. I could connect more with who I am and the different pieces of myself being a Mexican in America. And so it wasn't until I turned 34 or 35 that I decided to switch careers and enroll in cooking school." In so doing, she had a lot to learn and a lot of catching up to do, so she totally gets that we all make mistakes in the kitchen — even those of us, like her, who end up with a James Beard Award.

The number-one mistake Jinich sees people making? Rushing in the cooking process without even reading the recipe.

"I think most people jump in to trying a new recipe without reading it first. I think [you need to] scan the recipe, take five minutes to read the recipe." Why is it so important to spend those few minutes reading? Because if you don't, you may well end up ruining your dish, and ruining all the fun of cooking, no less.

Pati Jinich says plan ahead for success in the kitchen

After you take the time to read the entire recipe, not only will you avoid the common mistakes chef Pati Jinich warns about, but you'll also have a better time cooking.

"[It's] very important that we learn from the French," Jinch said, adding with a laugh, "I usually say that the French are fussy, and that we Mexicans are very easy and accommodating in our cooking. But there's one thing — I mean, the French have many wonderful things — but one thing that I find that is essential is their concept of mise en place," which roughly translates to "everything in place" – in this case meaning knives, pots and pans, cutting boards, etc.

"Before you're going to make any recipe, make sure you have all the ingredients at home," Jinich added. "If not, you'll [be] halfway through cooking and the [recipe] says: 'And now add the Worcestershire sauce,' and then you go try to find it, and you don't have any at home, and the onions are already browned!" She added, "So make sure that before you make a recipe, you have all those ingredients on the counter and try to prep as much as you can. Have the onions chopped, the tomatoes diced, the cheese shredded, whatever it is, try to have the ingredients as you would need to add them to the recipe before you start cooking."

Reading the recipe and prepping properly will not only ensure your dish comes out well, but that you enjoy yourself. As Jinich affirmed, "It makes it a much more pleasurable experience. You end up with a much better product in the end and you enjoy your time cooking more."

Check out chef Pati Jinich's newest cookbook, "Treasures of the Mexican Table," and be sure to catch her special "La Frontera" on PBS.