How a Mega-Busy Chef Manages To Make Civilized Food At Home
Brooke Mosley, you are our hero.
October 26, 2017 ● 3 min read
By Richie Nakano | Photographs courtesy Brooke Mosley
There have been countless articles written about what chefs eat when they're at home. The truest version of these would just say: “Cereal.”
For a chef, eating at home is either rare or done at a time of night so vampirish that take-out or the simplest, slapdash preparations are the most common—that’s what makes chef Brooke Mosley so interesting. Glancing at her Instagram is like looking at a restaurant's carefully curated page, but then you realize that everything on there is food that she makes at home for herself.
There are bean stews with egg and pepperoni, flatbreads, seared salmon with duck fat tortillas, homemade bagels (who the hell makes bagels at home?? Brooke does.) and something called “breakfast carbonara” that I didn't realize I needed to try until I saw it. If Brooke’s feed was a pop-up, it would be sold out, all the time.
So how does she make this magic happen in her tiny kitchen? Her pedigree notwithstanding (The Viceroy Hotel, The Tasting Kitchen, Outerlands), what is it about her approach that makes any of it possible? We asked, and here's what she thinks you should know about becoming a better, more present, home cook.
Build Your Pantry
“I think most people, people who don't work in restaurants, wouldn't have a pantry beyond like, salt, pepper, maybe garlic salt. Two kinds of vinegar, that's about it. And I think having that is probably the biggest thing. In a restaurant, there are capers soaked in salt, there's fish sauce. It's kind of mystery basket style in a restaurant, but at home, it takes a long time to build that. You're spending someone else's money when you're in the restaurant. It takes time (at home)."
Invest in your own larder over time, allowing yourself to work on more intricate projects or figure out what you'll actually use. A giant tub of kimchi is only awesome if you use it—Mosley's magic number is $60: choose wisely and you can upgrade your condiments, like vinegars, in one go.
Ditch The Protein-Starch-Veg Model, and Get Specific
“I usually begin with shopping and then focusing on one ingredient that I kind of wanna build something around, kind of how you would in a restaurant. It might mean protein, a vegetable, a fruit. There's one thing that I might chuck money at, and then I go, "Okay, now what am I gonna do?”
Know Your Kitchen's Limitations, Then Work Around Them
“My kitchen's small. I only have like three pans, so I'm washing things in between and have to stack something around the table or in the living room. There's no warm place in my apartment. I have to rise bread by the window in the living room. Or outside on the deck.”
Chefs are born MacGyvers. Make what you have work, and figure out how to mimic equipment you don't want to buy.
Relax: You’re At Home
Removed from the professional trappings of a restaurant, cooking morphs back into something you just love to do. It may be the last thing you want to do after a hellish day, but it also protects you from burning out on your own craft.
“In a super personal way, I had a shit job for the last 10 months and it was therapy for me. I'd have a beer or a glass of wine, and it gets me through stuff. I don't actually know what I would do if I [couldn't] cook at home. That's how I change my life on a daily basis, honestly. Truly.”
Season It The Way You Like It
"At home, you don't have to meet the expectations of hundreds of people. If you're in a restaurant, it can't be too acidic, it can't be too spicy, it can't be too salty. You know what I mean? [When] you're just cooking for yourself, you can just completely mess around and maybe do stuff that you wouldn't have the audacity to do in a restaurant 'cause only maybe 30 percent of the people who are eating would even understand or want it."
Like things on the burnt side? Char away. Like your potato salad so vinegary it makes most people cringe? You do you.