“Mise en place” may sound like a highfalutin term, but it is a French phrase that means “set in place.” In the culinary world, it refers to the practice of preparing all ingredients and equipment in advance of cooking. This means tasks such as chopping vegetables, measuring ingredients, preheating ovens, and organizing equipment are taken care of before cooking begins. The benefit of this preparation is that cooks can concentrate entirely on cooking during service, free from the need to stop and gather or prepare ingredients. Mise en place is an essential aspect of professional cooking and symbolizes a well-organized and efficient kitchen.
When it comes to exceptional cooking, chefs take their craft seriously. Mise en place isn’t just a time-saving technique; it’s a way of life. Messing with it is like kicking a hornet’s nest, as Anthony Bourdain, the culinary world’s travel documentarian, underscored in his bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential (2000): “Mise en place is the religion of all good line cooks.” Everything from their station to their tools, supplies, and backups should be arranged with military precision, and disturbing this sacred set-up is like throwing the universe off balance. Things can quickly spiral out of control, and anyone in the restaurant is advised not to mess with a line cook’s “meez” unless they want to face their wrath!
The same concept can be applied to any project or task. Pre-planning and careful preparation reduce the risk of interruptions and distractions. Take time to plan ahead, gather the necessary resources, and know your goal before starting. Keep the mundane concerns from keeping you focused on the job you’re there to do.
Think of it as a personal mise en place. Sit down and plan out what you need to succeed, including the necessary skills, resources, and people. Doing so allows you to channel your full attention to the task at hand, avoiding distractions and increasing your overall effectiveness.