Readiness is the first step of mise-en-place for every chef. So, before cooking, the chef needs to make a plan, gather his resources and arrange his space. Arrange the objects back to their rightful places, is the second stage of mise-en-place. It means that your station shouldn’t become chaotic! However, there is not a “right place” for everything.
Cooks’ system must move and do not be static. Therefore, working clean is the real work of mise-en-place, rather than being clean. In other words, no matter how fast and furious the work is, but keep that system of organization.
“Cleaning as you go is a commitment to keeping order through disorder”.
The chopping board is essential for chefs. Food is the only thing that can touch the cutting board- not pots, not plates, not pans or nothing that can contaminate the board or make a mess. Usually, cooks and chefs wipe their chopping board with a moist towel. Some of them use vinegar solution or mild bleach to avoid cross contamination.
This cleanness mindset extends from the chopping board to other objects around it. For example, for some is important to wipe down the bottles. This is because, the oil from the outside the bottles can be transfer to fingers that transferred to clean plates, making them dirty.
Messy station equals messy mind. Clean station equals clean mind. At the first sign of confusion or panic, chefs train their cooks to wipe down their stations. The chefs’ cleaning transcends hygienic or aesthetic concerns.
Cleaning has psychological and spiritual merits. When you work around dirt, your mind starts to close down and you start to feel closed in. In this way you get claustrophobic. However, if you work around clean, you can breathe beautifully and you start to cook just fantastic!
Working clean is not only personal but collective. Our coworker’s mess becomes our mess and vice-versa. Cleaning is a collective responsibility between chefs and that is why the best kitchens usually look and feel cleaner than the best hospitals.
Cleaning creates the foundation for excellence in the professional kitchen.