Food & Nutrition

30 Things TV Chefs Won’t Tell You

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Goodness, greatness, great balls of fire!

The world of cooking on TV

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What you see isn’t always what you’re going to get. A lot of what you see on your television screen is thoroughly planned out and when you try to replicate it yourself, it won’t be the same. Reader’s Digest went behind the scenes to hear from your favorite chefs on TV to learn their dirtiest kitchen secrets. Want to know even more secrets about professional chefs? Here are some foods that even they cook in the microwave.

Many TV chefs don’t write or develop their own recipes

homemade breakfast: fried crouton, bacon and vegetablesyipengge/Getty Images

Some don’t have time. Others are more focused on being on TV than on cooking, so they would rather pay someone else. And a few just don’t know how. Here’s why chefs never order these 7 things at restaurants.

The grill marks on meat don’t just appear magically

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Wonder how there are perfect grill marks on steaks and hotdogs so quickly on TV? The fire grills are pre-heated on high before so that when you put the steak on the grill the marks appear in seconds.

If you want the food you make to look as pretty as mine, don’t fill the plate

Delicious Lamb Ribs PlatedKaplanec/Getty Images

Putting something small on a bigger plate always looks better, especially if you stack the foods or lay them against each other. Be aware of these dirty restaurant secrets the kitchen crew isn’t telling you.

Cameras never get super close to the food

Video Camera Lensboonyoo/Getty Images

For live TV, we use a mirror above the cooking surface to get the shots “in the pan” so no camera is ever that close to hanging from the ceiling. They simply focus on the mirror and then flip the image.

When a chef forgets to say something important, we have to do what’s called a voice-over

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That’s when you’re watching and all of a sudden, you don’t see the chef’s face. Instead, you see a close-up of the bowl or their hands and you hear them saying, “Now add a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.” With the best talent, you’ll almost never hear a voice-over. When you attempt to make the recipes you see on television, make sure you aren’t making these common baking mistakes.

Some close up shots aren’t even of the celebrity chef

cropped image of african american chef squeezing lemons at restaurant kitchenLightFieldStudios/Getty Images

Many of the close-up shots of mixing, serving and presenting are done after the main talent is long out of the studio and the hands you see are another producer or actor. They try to limit nail colors and jewelry so those shots aren’t too noticeably different. Sometimes the close-up shots aren’t even filmed in the same studio. One of the assistants stands by taking notes on everything from the angles, bowls used, and hand used to stir, pour, and gesture to make it seamless in post-production.

Obviously, we’re not all going to sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting for a roast or a lasagna to cook

White porcelain baking dish with lid in open owenimamember/Getty Images

So there are people in a second kitchen behind the scenes cooking a bunch of versions of the same recipe so it will be ready to go at different stages. That’s called a swap-out. This is what chefs never, ever order at brunch.

Sometimes, the dishes we taste on are stone-cold because of a swap-out

Homemade sausage and tomato spaghettiyipengge/Getty Images

So we may be saying, “Mmm,” but really it tastes awful. We just smile and stomach it. This is why chefs never use the microwave “defrost” button.

We don’t account for prep time so when you make the same recipe, it’s going to take twice as long

Mix of vegetable bowls for salad or snackstenkende/Getty Images

Everything is prepped and ready to go on set. Meaning, vegetables are washed, dried and chopped. Salads are washed and spun. Meats are trimmed and ready to wear. Things are already measured out and ready to use. Often times there’s the token carrot that is chopped in front of the camera, but it’s rare things are being measured out as they go. Those easy “ten minutes” recipes are rarely even close to ten minutes when you take time to prep into consideration.

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