Where did you learn to cook?

Apparently, people like to eat.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby J the Ninja » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:48 pm UTC

I learned mainly from my mom, who is a former caterer. She just made me and my sister help cook dinner when we were little, and we got to help bake things at holidays and such, and after awhile I just started picking up how you make various dishes.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby charolastra » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

I learned the basics from my parents. From there it was Alton Brown, Julia Child, and a lot of experimentation. My parents tended to skip a lot of techniques because they thought they were useless, but my TV food gods have righted my wrongs.

Last year I kept a pseudo-kosher kitchen (Kosher oven) which really tested my abilities. I also, somewhere along the line, have eaten gluten free, low carb, and 100% from scratch so knowing how to cook has saved my life.

I am on a crockpot kick now- all self taught.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby katlopez » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:26 am UTC

Basically I learned cooking at home. I started with steaming at the age of 7. I am the eldest and we my brother and sister are left at home because my mom and dad had to go to work. This kind of set up forced me to learn how to cook at an early age in order not to wait for my parents before we can eat. From then on I was part of the kitchen chores and eventually was assigned to do the cooking for the family when I was in high school. I left home when I started studying college and lived in a dormitory near the university so I was spared from cooking for around nine years including those days when I started working.

When I get married I had my own kitchen to attend to again. I do all the cooking because my husband loves to eat. Good thing I have learned how to cook simple dishes back at home. Then I have found great help from internet when I need help cooking something I am not really sure how to do it. Tons of versions available on the net for just a single recipe, you just need to pick the one you feel will suite your taste.

With all the times spent in the kitchen I have developed interest in watching cooking shows such as Rachel Ray's and I started collecting recipe magazines and books. And from main course family cooking I am now venturing on baking.

That is where and how I learned how to cook. Seems it's gonna be my role for the rest of my lifetime.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby serutan » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:35 am UTC

Rinsaikeru wrote:Not precisely cooking--but when I was 2 I tried to make my mom coffee. All I forgot was the filter.

When I was 2, I tried to make oatmeal. The only thing I forgot was the water. I remember wondering why the oatmeal had turned black...
As with many of you, I learned by hanging around the kitchen with Mom when I was a kid. Later, I picked up stuff from cookbooks.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby paravatar » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:36 pm UTC

Much of what I know has to be attributed to my moms skill. (I have to go back and ask about many things)

But the one thing that brought my cooking forward was reading "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee. I started to understand cooking, and now I know when I have to stick to the recipes and when I am allowed to take a shortcut. Previously I did take some shortcuts which lead to disaster…

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby cba » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:18 am UTC

I was taught to cook by my mum when I was... well I dont even remember... I must have been pretty young...
But most of the time when cooking i just use intuition and can normally just find something that looks nice and make it fairly well first time...
either that or just make the receipe up as i go...
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby iChef » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:14 am UTC

First I learned from newspaper clippings. I grew up in a house with only my dad and brother so I was in charge of all the cooking. After that I'd say about 70% working and 30% culinary school. (BTW don't go to culinary school without at least 3 years in a professional kitchen first, you are wasting your time and money).
I really learned how to be a real chef from Anthony Bourdain's many books and articles. I think I own a copy of almost every work the man has put on paper.

If you really want to learn to cook well at home, buy a used textbook from some Emril wannabe who dropped out after getting yelled at harshly in the first semester (On Cooking from Labensky House is amazing). A couple of nice sharp knives (NOT serrated for the love of God, spend 30-50 a piece on the low end you will get your money's worth. Unless you want to go highball and flash around some fancy German or Japanese steel, that's fine too). Buy a few bucks worth of cheap root vegetables and a couple cheap pieces of pork or beef roast and a whole chicken. You know everything you need to know about a cook by the way they roast a chicken. Work your way through your new (used) book with your fancy new knives and a couple of other cheap tools (Circles of PVC pipe and a couple of empty squeeze bottles, maybe a piping bag) and you're ready to make Jaime Oliver your bitch.

Seriously this is all we use in high end places. If I can teach a crew of recent immigrants (the best cooks on Earth), High School drop-outs, ex-cons and junkies fresh out of rehab how to do it, you can too!
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby masakatsu » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:45 am UTC

After my parents got divorced, my mom worked two jobs to support my brother and I. My brother left and I was 14 with no idea how to cook. I would get a cookbook from the library and cook through every recipe in the book. Been doing it for the last 20 years.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby fullmoonmidget » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:58 pm UTC

My dad is a chef, but I honestly never payed much attention, because there was no need. I learnt how to cook eggs around 12 from him, and my favorite meal to cook for is still breakfast.

Honestly though, most of what I learned I learned from the internet. My food combinations and way of cooking is so much different than both the gourmet and line cook chef that my dad employs that I generally come up with my own recipes and ask him for help on execution. Collaboration at its finest. I have a feeling I'm going to learn even more as I find interesting ways to cook in a microwave for the duration of my stay at college dorms.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby |Erasmus| » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:24 am UTC

My mum teaches food tech and hospitality in high schools for a living. She's also worked in a few fairly well-known (around here) restaurants for training purposes. So I mostly learned through just being around the kitchen with her when I was young.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Coffee » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:05 am UTC

I always thought it'd be great to go to Culinary Institute of America; just so I could say I was CIA trained.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby KestrelLowing » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:44 pm UTC

I'm still learning how to cook, but I learned to bake when I was tiny. I think I made chocolate chip cookies on my own when I was in 1st or 2nd grade - at that point my mom trusted me with the oven.

My mom is one of those people who can bake the crap out of just about anything (seriously, people will use the EXACT same recipes and execution, and my mom's always turns out better, but that might be some bias ;) ) but isn't so skilled with cooking in general.

That meant casseroles were king in our house. First off, money was usually a little tight, so that helped stretch the meat, and my mom is a piano teacher so she'd often have students when 'normal people' would make dinner. Instead she'd mix up a casserole and ask one of us to shove it in the oven when we got home from school. Unfortunately, I only liked a few of those casseroles. (She was always trying new things out - I think she wasn't very thrilled either.) In the summer, we pretty much survived off the grill. Also, the farmers market. Basically, my mom did the least possible to good ingredients and it tasted awesome, but it's not really cooking.

So, while I can bake fairly well, I'm still not very good at the whole cooking thing. I can make a pretty decent spagetti sauce and my chicken alfredo is alright. Basically, if I have a good recipe, it usually turns out ok, but I can't do that throw-things-in-a-pan-and-it-tastes-awesome thing.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby merelydicta » Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:13 pm UTC

I came from a long line of rather gifted cooks...I'm a peranakan (which is a ethnic group that's a hybrid of malay and chinese peoples)....thing is...traditionally only the females are meant to cook. Being a guy, I had to learn on my own whilst I was in the army waiting for my tour to end and my university studies to begin.

So I started using one of those 'quick and easy' books on french cooking and then worked my way forward. Fast forward 8 years to the present...countless of kitchen catastrophes...and I've somehow managed to get my recipes published here and there. My mom still doesn't think highly of my cooking though...it's too western and high-faluting. =(

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Anonymously Famous » Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:49 pm UTC

I learned by watching my mom cook and helping out as a kid.

I can read and follow recipes, find a recipe with a list of given ingredients (such as the "What do we have on hand?" list), and sometimes make up my own dishes (with varying levels of success). So I'm not a gourmet chef by any means, but I don't starve, either. :)

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Evengeduld » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:10 am UTC

Anonymously Famous wrote:I learned by watching my mom cook and helping out as a kid.

Same here.

Now I can make up almost everything i want and make it taste good. Making it look good is somewhat harder :)
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Amelie » Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:40 pm UTC

Grandma.. then all by myself.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Screature, » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:12 pm UTC

I learned to cook simply by watching my mother cook. She's usually more than happy to let me know what she's doing and why, and timings etc.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby martincroe » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:55 am UTC

i learn to cook from my mom and my friend...

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Gear » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:42 pm UTC

Basics from parents, everything else from books and/or the internet.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby axlan » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:55 am UTC

My parents talk me the magic of the microwave, but I didn't cook anything more advanced then eggs till college. Nothing like paying for groceries to make you want to learn to cook. The internet talk me all that I know.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Webzter » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:49 pm UTC

Mom started us off early with helping make small parts of meals. As we grew older, we'd take on more responsibility. Eventually we'd cook some meals entirely by ourselves.

she's very proud of the fact that her two boys are better cooks than she is.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:52 am UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:When I moved in with my grandmother to take care of her (she had renal disease), I had learned to cook a lot of dishes. The first couple of times with most were full of fail, but as I cooked them more often, I picked up a lot.

One of said items I learned to cook from her was gravy. Brown gravy, white gravy, red-eye gravy, it didn't matter. I learned it all from her.

My dad likes to make biscuits and gravy for either lunch or supper on the weekends. While the biscuits always turn out excellent, the gravy tends to be something left to be desired. He will make a milk (white) gravy, but it always comes out too thin, and too bland. A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I were talking about it, and I told her how I used to make a bacon gravy, with bacon crumbled up into the gravy. She wanted me to make it next time my dad decided to do biscuits and gravy.

This past weekend I got my chance, and made some of the best damn gravy anyone's ever had. He said it tasted just like how his own mother used to make, which says a hell of a whole lot, since he usually doesn't compliment cooking with more than just "mmm, it's good".

The secret to good gravy, as I learned from my grandma, was that you start with the roux, by adding just a little bit (a couple of tablespoons) of flour to the very hot grease. Depending on how much gravy you need to make, you'd need more grease and more flour. I'd say a 4:1 ratio for grease to flour. Then add your liquid gradually, stirring frequently with a wire whisk. I found the whisk to be the best gravy-stirring instrument on the planet. Let the gravy thicken up (bubbles will form) before adding more liquid. Keep doing so until you have enough for everyone. Add salt, pepper, and other spices to taste. Let simmer for about two to three minutes, until it's to desired consistency (usually about as thick as cake batter). Serve.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby jj7947 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:04 pm UTC

I can say most likely from my Mother at the age of 8 or 9, but later took some cooking classes at 15 or 16. Although some concoctions I would not repeat.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Iranon » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:07 pm UTC

Came naturally as soon as I lived on my own.
In my opinion, cooking has the right mix of science and intuition be a fine geeky pasttime. Banish sloppy workarounds (all dodgy ingredients, most overspecialised implements). Get a good set of tools (a proper set of knives that you know how to use, different pans depending on what you want to do with them, mortar and pestle so you can avoid pre-ground spices that lost most of their flavour). Try to make something fancy out of mundane groceries, and debug recipes that don't quite work as intended.
I find this rewarding beyond tasty, healthy meals that still cost less than junk food, and I'm surprised about the stereotype of the geek subsisting entirely on ramen.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby susan12 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:53 am UTC

Learning how to cook depends on what the purpose of cooking is. For me, cooking is for surviving, not for commercial purpose, so I hardly learn cook. Just turn on the stove and make the raw food eatable, what ever it taste is :mrgreen:

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby bluedaisy » Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:58 am UTC

My parents wanted me to learn to cook. I first learned when I was about 13 or 14. But I started my cooking properly after my graduation when I took an apartment. Now. I am still learning! :)

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Patrik3 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:42 pm UTC

Mostly my own kitchen, mostly from trial and error.

e.g. who needs precise ingredients? I feel like making a cake! I'll just chuck whatever into a mixing bowl, add whatever spices/flavours etc, and see what comes out!

Also, 'experimental' cooking. Not full blown Heston Blumenthal, but I'm rather infamous amongst my friends for creating weird things like:
Spicy Flapjack;
Flapjack so hard it needed to be chiseled out;
Inside-out Trifle-cake - Sponge cake, hollowed out, with jelly and custard inside, then the hat from the sponge, then lots of cream and sprinkles. Tasted great, but didn't cut well...;
Rice cake (no, not like 'those' ones - a disc of sweetened sticky rice, with icing sugar and fennel seeds on top, IIRC.);
"Flambeed marshmallows" - toasting them on a fire, but instead of stopping them burning, put them over the flame until they catch light, then watch them burn for 5 secs, blow it out, and eat the slightly charred remains;
Lots of variations of "fridge cakes";
Failed attempts at meringue;
Possibly some weird savoury dishes, too...

I now have to make one (boring sensible) meal a week, plus anything I make for myself (usually stir fry), plus sometimes I make a special meal for the family - Mum and Dad are sure to make me use a recipe at least slightly, though!

P.S. eating the ingredients is always yummy especially pastry and chocolate but now I am fat.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Drowsy Turtle » Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:13 am UTC


I became a vegetarian at the age of 9, and it was a case of learn to cook, or starve.

Now it's reached the point where my family invite me round to cook them veggie meals, because they taste better than the meaty ones they eat :)
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Kaden » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:49 pm UTC

My mom and dad were the main ones I learned to cook from. :) My mom always had more of a flair for baked goods, so helping her with those in the kitchen are some of my earliest cooking memories. My dad taught me how to make delicious breakfast food, which is still my favorite thing to make. They were both good at making different types of dinner dishes- Dad made lots of roasts, steaks, and Italian food, whereas Mom made more casseroles and dishes that she learned from her mom (my Gramma). Of course, Gramma taught me to cook a few things, too. :lol:

One of my most prized possessions is the cook book my mom gave me at my bridal shower. :mrgreen: It was a blank cook book that she filled in with all my favorite recipes from growing up, since I was going to be moving away and wouldn't have access to her recipe box anymore. I still call her up to get recipes from it that I miss, though.

And now I'm married to a wonderful man who's 5 years older than I am and had a bigger headstart learning to cook on his own. He's an incredibly good cook and loves to experiment with new dishes and recipes. I've learned a lot about cooking from him, too. Since he's a house-husband, he has taken over nearly all of the cooking, although I still love to cook breakfast for us on the weekends. :D I've also become well-known in his family for my banana bread (I use my dad's recipe). I'd say that my specialties these days are breakfast foods and baked goods. I love to cook! :wink: (As long as I have a recipe to follow!)

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Kevin88 » Tue May 14, 2013 1:01 pm UTC

It is all about trial and error. I wasn't taught either so I just try to follow simple things and eventually I worked my way up to complicated things. Try investing in a slow cooker, they are great!

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Tomlidich the second » Wed May 15, 2013 12:01 am UTC

learned mostly from my scout troop, because my mother is a terrible cook, and my dad didn't always have the times for such things.

nowadays i keep my skills sharp and keep learning from cooking for my friends all the time. im like the group mess officer.

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby bessie » Sun May 26, 2013 1:08 am UTC

I learned to cook from my mom. She's not much of a cook, but she makes the best cakes, pies, and cookies. Who cares if dinner is just OK, when you follow with a spectacular dessert?

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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:42 pm UTC

I don't really remember much about being taught to cook growing up, although I am sure I was; I remember my mother teaching me to bake a little, and I remember some early cooking experimentation being vaguely encouraged even though the results were horrible, and I remember cooking some basics for myself when my mother was working a lot and we lived alone. My father taught me to make hollandaise sauce, but otherwise he didn't show me much.

For years I took a sort of "screw recipes, I'll do what I want" approach (that resulted in a few decent dishes and a lot of awful awful stuff). I don't recommend it.

I worked as a meat cutter for a while, and there I learned quite a bit about meat and the preparation of meat (which I don't eat currently, but still a few of the basics apply, and it was very handy for learning how to create delicious mains quickly), and then I worked behind a deli counter where I learned some other helpful food prep basics.

Mostly, though, I think I became a really good cook once I started using recipes a lot, and cooking for two people 5-6 days a week. The recipes (which came from literally everywhere on the internet, plus a few cookbooks but no particular one stands out) showed me how to bring things together and I began to see the patterns to food preparation much better, and preparing food regularly for multiple years helped to compound that knowledge; at this point I am a pretty excellent home cook if I say so myself, and it was mostly by following lots of recipes and trying new recipes all the time. Experience, she is my teacher.

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