As a seasoned 20-year chef who is certified by the American Culinary Federation, Chef Mark Molinaro has worked for five-diamond establishments. Among the rich and famous who have savored his culinary creations include musicians Mick Jagger, Billy Joel and Elton John, Star Wars actor Mark Hamill and the late U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf. Molinaro offers these five tips for aspiring cooks:
- Season meat after dry heat cooking – not before. Seasoning or salting food before grilling, frying, broiling and baking draws out moisture and makes meat dryer.
- Make flavored oils and vinegars at home to give your food a unique aroma twist: cilantro lime vinegar, garlic chili flake oil or ginger cardamom oil. They are great in stir fry dishes and salads.
- Understand how heat works on food. Cooking at different temperatures delivers different results. Chef Molinaro recommends reading “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” by Harold McGee.
- Be a curious cook. “Don’t just follow along with the cook book. Understand how the dish is traditionally made and respect the integrity and origin of the dishes,” says Chef Molinaro.
- Invest in good cutlery. Well-made knives that are kept sharp will make cooking easier and more enjoyable.
Chef Molinaro is Certified Executive Chef and Chef Lecturer at Northern Arizona University’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management in the W. A. Franke College of Business.