Mise en place (pronounced meez ahn plas) is a French cooking term that literally translates to “put in place.” Often referred to as simply “meez” by the pros.
Mise en place allows you to cook in the most efficient way, without having to stop. All necessary ingredients are chopped and ready to go, spices are measured, oil is portioned, tools are at hand.
What Pro Chefs Know
If you’ve ever dined in a fine restaurant with a view of an open kitchen, then you’ve witnessed mise en place first hand. Each cook stands at his or her station with all of the ingredients and tools they’ll need for the entire service at the ready – vegetables are washed and chopped, meats are trimmed and portioned, fish is deboned and filleted, pans, tongs & towels are all standing-by, ready for action. With everything in its place, including the cooks, the kitchen moves like clockwork. In the industry, this is sometimes referred to as “the dance.”
Lights, Camera, Cook!
Are you a fan of food TV shows? Then you’ve noticed that all the ingredients are expertly measured and queued up in little ramekins for the host. That level of organization is required when making a TV show or shooting a video. While you may not have the hair and makeup team that the TV chefs do, you can set a perfect mise en place.
This is our mise en place for our pork video with Amanda Freitag. And if you want to try this at home, here’s the delicious recipe she made: Pork Chops with Crisp Ventrèche and White Bean Ragu.
Mise en Place at Home
Mise en place for the home cook is much more than just pre-chopping, pre-measuring and setting everything out in diminutive bowls in a straight line. True mise en place starts long before, in the planning of what you’re going to cook.
- Think like a chef and calculate how much you need to cook and how many people you’re serving.
- Make sure you have all of your ingredients and equipment before you even think about picking up a knife, and mentally walk through your recipe, anticipating the steps before they happen.
- Prep all of the ingredients you will need. Measure, wash if needed, trim or cut as needed.
- Lay it all out the counter, within reach of where you’re working, and in the order in which you will need the ingredients.
- Have have your tools and equipment ready – utensils within reach, small appliances assembled, pot holders and towels ready, oven preheated.
- And don’t forget to pull out your serving dishes and set your table. It’s all part of mise en place.
We cannot overstate the importance of this kitchen technique. If you want to see how learning the art of mise en place changed the life of one chef, read this article about Chef Jarobi White. He is a former member of the hip-hop group Tribe Called Quest, and went on to become a professional cook.