7 Kitchen and Life Lessons that the Swedish Chef Taught Us
In the great pantheon of TV chefs, few have experienced the crossover success of the Swedish Chef. Millions around the globe know him simply by his signature, uh, accent and yes, Jacques Pepin, Julia Child and James Beard might have been influential, it’s impossible to escape the impact that the Swedish chef has had. He’s an inspiration to all who have dreamed big and thought, “ya know, an antique pistol is just the tool I need to cook lobster at home.” Here are seven kitchen and life lessons that we all learned from the Swedish Chef.
A cook must keep their work area clean.
The Swedish Chef has always understood that keeping your workstation organized is pivotal for any successful cook. As such, the Swedish Chef showed us that the best way to remove clutter from the kitchen is to throw any utensils you aren’t currently using blindly behind you. Once you get those pesky tools out of your space, you can get down to the real battle at hand: Whatever creature crawls out of your pot that specific day.
It’s dangerous having too many people in the kitchen.
When cooking a meal, there are many things you need to keep track of. For instance, the appropriate temperatures and cook times for various dishes. However, one aspect you shouldn’t need to worry about is an impromptu conga line running through your work space. The Swedish Chef was often met by surprise guests, but he diligently vanquished them from the kitchen so he could go about his business safely(-ish).
Nothing can replace the right cooking tool.
Quick, what’s the most efficient way to open a coconut? If you didn’t say a saw and a mallet then you need to spend more time observing the master. The Swedish Chef always knew which tools were most important, regardless of what he’s cooking. Sure, using an antique pistol to turn cabbage into Brussels sprouts might not seem like the best technique at first, but when he does it, the logic is infallible.
Tasting and seasoning as you cook is very important.
Just like every other great chef, the Swedish Chef understood the importance of seasoning your food as you go and making sure to taste along the way. While the above clip shows a rare case when the Swedish Chef taught us by demonstrating the wrong way to go about seasoning, it’s further evidence that the Swedish Chef is truly a Muppet of the people and willing to sacrifice his own well-being for the education of the masses.
Make sure your food is not armed when you cook it.
One of the most important lessons that the Swedish Chef ever brought to the table was the difficulty of dealing with food that was armed. Of course, the first mistake was bringing live food into the kitchen, especially when the food happened to be one of his fellow cast members. Secondly, always search your food for heavy artillery before throwing it into a pot. Do you think they teach this important lesson in culinary school? HA, think again.
Even the most complex recipes can be simplified.
One thing you can’t understate is the Swedish Chef ‘s fearlessness. Whether facing armed and dangerous food or eating something that literally causes smoke to come out of one’s ears, he never faltered in the face of danger. One way he did this specifically was by finding ways to simplify intimidating recipes. For example, do you want to know how the Swedish Chef makes donuts? He takes a fried bun, throws it into the air and shoots it with his antique pistol (man that guy likes antique pistols), which forms a perfect hole in the center. Boom, donut. Forget Wylie Dufresne and Ferran Adrià, the Swedish Chef might be the most inventive culinary mind of the 20th century.
Just because you can't speak the language and don’t have eyes doesn’t mean you can’t become an international culinary icon.
More so than any other lesson, the Swedish Chef taught us to dream big. Just think, the Swedish Chef, a man (eh, or Muppet) without eyes or an ability to speak the local language went on to educate millions of people on both the fundamentals of cooking and the subtleties of the Swedish language. He’s not just a chef; he’s a freakin' hero.