Cooking School

Q&A: Lynn Crawford's tips on how to become a better cook

Photography by David Wile Image by: Photography by David Wile Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

Q&A: Lynn Crawford's tips on how to become a better cook

Annabelle Waugh: You have more than 25 years of experience cooking professionally. You're in one of the most physically gruelling careers out there, and yet, you seem to have more energy than ever. How?

Lynn Crawford: For me, it's the genuine love of cooking and learning and honouring the seasons and giving my guests the very best experience. I love it so much! Although, I honestly can't think of anything I'd love to do more than hang out with your team [laughs]. Having worked at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts—that's seven days a week, 24 hours a day. That's every holiday. Christmas is on the 25th. Well, guess what? You'll celebrate Christmas a couple of days before or a couple of days after. You become accustomed to the lifestyle. At any point, I could have said, "This isn't what I want to do," but it is what I want to do.

AW: You've talked about the relationship between farmers and chefs. Why do you feel it's important to be connected to the source of your food?

LC: It's the farmers who give us the great ingredients to cook with. You can be sure that your farmers are using sustainable practices, and know that when you cook with their produce, you're supporting a community. I've had the honour and privilege of working with so many amazing farmers across the country. They're not recognized as being the stars and they're very humble; people just don't know how dedicated and passionate our Canadian farmers are, and it's really important to honour them. Go to your local farmers' markets—to shop in season is amazing. Produce that's in season tastes so much better and, instantly, you're going to notice the difference. You know what else? Using the best ingredients will make you a better cook, no matter what your skill level is.

AW: Chefs are trained to be meticulous in the kitchen, because the last thing you want to do is send a paying customer home with a tummyache! What's an important food-handling tip for home cooks?

LC: Sanitize your workstation [countertops, cutting boards]; make sure you wash your hands before any food preparation. For foods that are meant to be served cold, like devilled eggs, keep them in the fridge until you're ready to serve them.

AW: Many people get intimidated by recipes and, as a result, don't cook for themselves as often as they might. What advice can you offer to get people cooking more often and trying new things?

LC: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I would encourage people to stay within a repertoire of recipes that they can execute, get those positive results that are maybe at a beginner level, then gradually step up. Read a recipe through from start to finish. Understand each part of the steps. People think, Oh, I'm going to cut up the pepper, then I'm going to get my pan. And oh, the garlic! Prepare all of your ingredients first. There's so much good reading out there. Pick up Canadian Living every month, for crying out loud!

Do you love Lynn Crawford? Click here to find about more about out September guest editor.

This story was originally part of "Yes, Chef!" in the September 2015 issue.

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Cooking School

Q&A: Lynn Crawford's tips on how to become a better cook