Kitchen basics: Mise en place
This article is an introduction of mise en place definition. The following articles will explain the most basic elements of this concept which include knife skills, common seasoning and flavoring combinations, and techniques for mixing, shaping, and cooking.
What’s Mise en place?
Mise en place is a French phrase that translates as “to put in place”. For the truly professional chef, it means far more than simply assembling all the ingredients, pot and pans, plates, and serving pieces needed for a particular period.
Mise en place is also a state of mind. Someone who has truly grasped the concept is able to keep many tasks in mind simultaneously, weighing and assigning each its proper value and priority. This assures that the chef has anticipated and prepared for every situation that could logically occur during a service period.
Knife skills include basic cuts that are used every day and more complicated special techniques. Even before anything is cut, however, knife skills include the ability to choose the proper knife for a given task, handle the knife with care and properly maintain it.
Holding the knife
Depending on the particular task and the specific knife, there are grips for holding the knife. The three basic holds are:
- Gripping the handle with all four fingers and holding the thumb gently but firmly against the side of the blade.
- Gripping the handle with three fingers, resting the index finger flat against the blade on one side, and holding the thumb on the opposite side to give additional stability and control.
- Gripping the handle with four fingers and holding the thumb firmly against the blade’s back.
(1) The first knife grip
(2) The second knife grip
(3) The third knife grip
In all cases, the hand not holding the knife, the guiding hand, guides the object being cut, prevents slippage, and helps to control the cut’s size. The fingertips hold the object, with the thumb held back from the fingertips and the fingertips tucked under slightly. The knife blade then rests against the knuckles, preventing the fingers from being cut.