Learning to Cook: Starting

Where does one start to learn how to cook? Of course, one can learn passively by watching gastro-porn on the Food Network or cooking shows on PBS. But to get some hands-on experience, there are a few things to consider.

This site outlines some helpful equipment and gadgets for outfitting your kitchen. Of course, some items are based on personal preference, but I find that most of these items are definitely useful.

Once your kitchen is stocked with basic tools, you need to consider stocking up on staple ingredients. Of course these are entirely based on personal preference and on the types of dishes you like and plan to cook. Before buying all of these ingredients, it's helpful to look at recipes and cookbooks and consider what common staples are used.

Getting a good cookbook is also helpful. Books like "Learning to Cook" by Marion Cunningham and "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman give beginners a thorough explanation of tools, techniques and ingredients to get started. Surfing the web for recipes and articles is also a great way to find information.

Check out cooking classes. Vancouver boasts many schools that provide amateur cooking classes as well as professional training. Some places that offer classes are the Cookshop, Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks, Gourmet Warehouse and the Vancouver School Board. For the more serious home chef, Dubrulle offers a 9 part course.

My favourite way to learn to cook is to just ask someone if I can join them in the kitchen. It's enlightening to be there to ask questions and get right into the food preparation. It's fun to hear the stories about the food being prepared and to get insider tips. And since I learn best by watching and doing, I like to jump right in! Here are photos of my favourite cooking lesson with Mirella in Tuscany.