Mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs) is a French term for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking. Pans are prepared. Mixing bowls, tools and equipment set out. It is a technique chefs use to assemble meals so quickly and effortlessly.
Practicing mise en place has several benefits:
- Any missing ingredients can be spotted before it's too late for a quick trip to the store or your neighbor next door.
- Special preparation for ingredients -- such as toasting nuts, letting certain ingredients come to room temperature, etc. -- can be handled BEFORE cooking rather than in the midst of another preparation step when time delays may affect food quality.
- There is time to clean the mixing area as you go along rather than face a counter full of mixing equipment when you're done.
- You can group ingredients or place them in the order used to assure all recipe steps are included.
- It makes complicated recipes more fun to prepare when you're no longer doing a juggling act, trying to complete several tasks simultaneously.
- Hint: You may find it helpful and that it brings out your "inner chef" to buy a set of 4 or more "pinch" or "mini" bowls.
- They come in different sizes and may hold from about 1 to 3 ounces. You often will see TV chefs using these to hold smaller amounts of such ingredients as spices, a single egg, a couple tablespoons of cornstarch, etc. As another option, a set of smaller-sized custard cups may work as well for you.
Article originally written by Alice Henneman. Updated and reviewed in 2020.