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How to Prep Your Ingredients Like a Chef

Mastering mise en place will make your life easier.

By Izzy Johnson
Oct 26, 2022
mise en place with ingredients
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The first time I heard the words “mise en place,” I was 15 years old and working in a bakery. One of my coworkers grabbed a sheet tray and instructed me to go around the pastry station collecting the ingredients I needed in prep bowls so that when the time came to assemble the cake I was making, everything would be easily accessible. I had never cooked so strategically before and it changed my life.

What is Mise en Place?

The French phrase “mise en place” literally translates to “everything in its place”. This means that before you begin cooking, your ingredients are measured, prepped, and ready to go. Mise en place saves you time, eliminating frantic searching for ingredients while something is already on the stove or in the oven, and streamlines your cooking process. It also makes the final clean-up more manageable.

Why Do Chefs Use It?

Anyone who’s ever worked in a professional kitchen can tell you there’s no time to spare. Chefs move at a fast pace, which is largely thanks to the work of prep cooks who make sure that all of their ingredients are properly prepared and organized ahead of time to keep things running smoothly in the kitchen. This is especially important for dishes like stir-fry where everything comes together very quickly.

How to Mise En Place

While the stakes are lower in your home kitchen, mise en place is a great way to move faster and ensure you don’t miss or duplicate any ingredients. It may take some practice, but it’ll reduce stress and improve your overall cooking experience. Here are five simple steps to get started.

Step 1: Read the Recipe Through

Before you even start cooking, read—don’t skim—the recipe. This will help you determine what you need, figure out timing, and give you a general sense of what the cooking process will entail. If something needs to be done in advance, such as tempering meat, you won’t be caught off guard.

Step 2: Gather Your Tools

There’s nothing worse than realizing a crucial piece of cookware is in your currently-running dishwasher, buried at the back of a cabinet, or something you don’t even have. As you're reading the recipe, make sure to note what cookware you’ll need and have it at the ready. If you need to sharpen or hone your knives, this is also the time to do that.

Step 3: Get Your Ingredients Together

Collect all the ingredients and lay them out on your counter or tabletop. Make sure you don’t have to make any last minute trips to the store. It can sometimes be helpful to make a list of your ingredients so as you start prepping them, you can check them off one by one.

Step 4: Prep, Measure, and Organize

Now comes the fun part, or the part where you wish you had a sous chef. This means cutting, juicing, measuring, etc. You can place your prepped ingredients on Sheet Pans to help keep your work surface clean and give you a place to stack your dirty dishes, containing the clutter.

Step 5: Clean as You Go

Once you’ve laid everything out, it’s time to start cooking. If the recipe allows, clean strategically. How this looks depends on the dish you’re making. If it’s fried rice, your dishes will have to wait until you’ve finished cooking, but if you’re simmering a soup, you can use the down time to tidy up.

Ready to Shop?

Mise en place is all about staying organized, and prep bowls are the best way to do that. Our Mise en Place Set features four bowls—you can choose from either two medium and two large bowls or one of each size. Like the rest of our Plateware, the bowls are made in England from high alumina china. They’re fully vitrified, making them as durable as they are beautiful. Plus, they’re stackable, dishwasher and microwave safe, and come with a one-year no chip guarantee.