mise en place with martha

Thanks to the lovely little mini prep bowls that I received for my birthday, I’ve been able to start practicing the time honored tradition of TV chefs everywhere: mise en place. Literally meaning “everything in place,” it’s the ultimate chef religion to have all of the ingredients ready for to be cooked, and also the ultimate luxury when cooking dinner. I once heard Martha chastize an employee on her set for not “PAM-ing” the bowls prior to usage so that the ingredients slipped right out. I forget who the celebrity guest was, but when Martha replied, “Everyone knows you need to grease your prep bowls,” you could hear a collective chuckle as the audience knew that wasn’t an item of common knowledge.

When I prepared the Asian Noodle Soup the other night, I decided to pull out the prep bowls and do what needed to be done. I must say it made cutting and cleanup easier, and it seemed to make the “cooking” part a bit less hectic. I’m famous for misreading a key ingredient and mis-measuring, so I think this method of cooking might increase my ratio of successful recipes. If not, at least it’s fun to decide what color bowl my limes will go in!

How about you…. do you practice “mise en place” or just go with the flow?


  • Disgruntled Julie

    It depends on what dish is being prepared… but for the overwhelming majority of what I cook, I find it to be a huge waste of time, and time is not something which I have to spare. I tend to find that for beginning cooks, it can be great because they know everything is prepared, and of course for advanced chefs they are not doing the preparing themselves and rather the sous chefs are (and if I could get myself one of those, well then my attitude towards it would totally change!) but with the exception of dishes like stirfry where ingredients have to be seared quickly, I rarely cook everything for the exact same amount of time. Rather, I’m cooking the onions for 3 minutes longer than the rest of the vegetables because my husband dislikes strong onion flavor, and then perhaps adding the peppers, and the onions last — so rather than waste time chopping everything first, I do the onion, and use the additional time while the onion is cooking to do the peppers, and then while the onion and pepper are cooking, dice the tomato. I prepare based on how long a particular ingredient needs to cook, and just ensure beforehand that I have everything in the fridge/pantry.

  • Janet

    I don’t do it often, but love when I do! It makes me feel fancy, like I’m on a cooking show! I need to do this more often!

  • StefK

    I should definitely try this out. I find (espeeeeecially the first time I cook anything), I get a bit frazzled trying to make sure to time things right and how much of this, and how to cut that, etc etc. This would make things MUCH easier!

  • Tara

    I’m guessing you have a dishwasher. Without one, the thought process is much more “Hm, do I really even need a mixing bowl? Can’t I just stir everything in the actual pan??”

  • Jenny Louwheeze

    I love doing this – the process organizes my mind and helps me unwind after a long commute home! I use the extra time during the actual cooking process that I’ve created for myself by prepping beforehand to clean up as much as I can before dinner – that way there’s no messy kitchen looming at the end of the meal. Those are cute little bowls, I’ll have to add them to my next bday list :)