The 5 Things You Should Know Before You Cook For Your Date

Cooking for your date doesn’t have to be complicated to be appreciated. Preparing a meal for your date shows the thought, effort, and sensitivity it requires to make someone else feel happy and special. Then you’ve got dating dynamite!

However, this is not the time to try out a new recipe. This may not be the occasion to experiment with something that could turn into a dating disaster. Have no fear, cooking failures are most often caused by the written recipe, not the cook. A recipe is someone else’s OPINION of what to cook for dinner, it often doesn’t tell you HOW to cook dinner and you shouldn’t trust everything it tells you.

If you don’t have written instructions, how do you create amazing meals that impress a date?

There are 5 elements, or necessary skills that you can develop to be able to cook the way YOU want, with the ingredients YOU desire and avoid the pitfalls of recipes on such a big night.

The first way to impress your date with your cooking is to change your thought process a bit. You must admit to yourself that recipes are good only for ideas. Blindly following someone else’s idea of how something should be cooked is destined for frustration. Cooking for your date should come from what YOU like. It can show part of your personality, introduce them to your heritage or culture, and demonstrate your creativity. None of this comes from a recipe.

There are too many variables in recipes for the home cook to duplicate them exactly as the photo shows. Just like the air-brushed abs on a cover model, it sets an unrealistic expectation. The test kitchen and the photo studio are two separate places, they did not meet. Secondly, products can be different sizes, stoves different temperatures, pots and pans of different materials, making recipes difficult to duplicate successfully.

The second way to cook you way into your date’s heart is to learn some basic knife skills. The Chef’s Knife will be your best friend in the kitchen if you use it skillfully and safely. There are no moving parts, it washes clean easily and can be used to cut hundreds of items quickly. An attractive meal has ingredients that are similar shapes and sizes. They look great and will all be consistently cooked if they are consistently cut.

Third, stock your pantry. If you want to cook without recipes and reveal a bit of yourself through cooking, that means you’ll be using the ingredients YOU desire. Why not keep some of your favorite flavors on-hand? Have soy sauce, chili paste, coconut curry sauce, salsa, or adobo sauce to quickly change the flavor profile of any dish that can be prepared simply.

You’ll cook better when you perfect one cooking method, and simply change the flavors. That’s my fourth tip. Written recipes can be confusing, and cooking for a date calls for confidence! Find the cooking method that you’re most confident in and substitute date-friendly ingredients. When you understand the different types of heat used in cooking you can control them to your desires.

The essence of cooking is the transfer of heat to food. Regardless WHAT you’re cooking, HOW you cook it is most important. The difference between the direct heat of the sauté pan versus the indirect heat of the oven will give dramatically different results. Cook with the end result in mind. If you are preparing delicate fish that you want to be moist, it should probably be steamed. If you want an attractive caramel sear on a steak, it should be sauteed, broiled or grilled. These are different methods of cooking and each has a step by step process.

Lastly, become a sauce master. A good sauce can help a badly cooked piece of chicken, but a bad sauce will ruin the best one. Great sauces mystify many cooks, but they’re quite simple. They all have a similar procedure, but rely on the same science of cooking.

Actually, all of sauce making comes down to one concept, gelatinization of starches. Quick and easy pan sauces are made by starch molecules absorbing liquids and swelling. This is what makes sauces smooth or lumpy, and once you can create a roux you’ll make any sauce you can think of.

You will definitely cook better when you stop trusting recipes entirely, use your kitchen knife, stock your pantry, use a dependable repeatable method, and learn how to make sauces.

If you want to learn my exact process for creating a "soup to nuts" romantic meal at home (and I promise, it's easier than you ever imagined) Click Here now.

About Chef Todd

Chef Todd Mohr is a Certified Culinary Educator who has empowered home cooks all over the world with the reliable, dependable, repeatable METHODS behind cooking that build confidence, generate creativity and enable anyone to cook with the ingredients THEY desire.


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  • kathy
    4:52 PM - 28 March, 2014

    Wow, Chef! A tie and jacket, flowers, and music....nice. I cook for my two favorite dates: my husband and son, every night using your methods, and they love it. I also cook for two clergy in town every week, and they love it, too. Your methods are the best.

    Have fun on your date! Your wife's a lucky woman.

    • Chef Todd Mohr
      6:05 PM - 28 March, 2014

      Hi Kathy!
      Cooking for clergy! There's another benefit of great cooking skills, helping your community.
      You might think my wife is lucky, but she has invested a lot of time and put me through culinary college.
      The deal was marry me, put me through school and you get dinners for life.
      I got the best part of that arrangement for sure! lol

  • StellarsPellar
    1:32 PM - 28 March, 2014

    Chef Todd, after following you for a few years I can now put together a KILLER date meal whenever I need to. The lady friend is quite happy and so am I. Keep up the good work!

    • Chef Todd Mohr
      1:36 PM - 28 March, 2014

      Thanks for the kind words, Stellar.
      A few YEARS???? Thank you!! If you've been following me for years, you must be a great cook.
      You're date is a lucky person.

  • Jeremy
    1:29 PM - 28 March, 2014

    You have inspired me to keep my date in this weekend instead of going out. I think I can do this! Thanks.

    • Chef Todd Mohr
      1:37 PM - 28 March, 2014

      You think you can do this. I KNOW you can do this if you follow my simple tips. Remember, just the ACT of cooking for someone shows a lot about you.

  • Donna
    1:28 PM - 28 March, 2014

    This is great information. I just registered for Tuesday's webcast and can't wait to learn these techniques. Thanks, Chef Todd!

    • Chef Todd Mohr
      1:40 PM - 28 March, 2014

      Thanks, Donna.
      I put a lot of thought and planning into this webinar because I wanted to make sure everyone had the most applicable information in a simple and understandable form, from which they could take immediate action and improve their date-cooking tonight. I look forward to having you in the audience. Send a comment when you get there.

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