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Chefs' Culinary Secrets & Cooking Philosophies







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Chefs' Culinary Secrets & Cooking Philosophies | Rachael Ray, Ryan Hughes, & Wolfgang Puck

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson



Cutlery image Rachael Ray

In 2008, was the highest paid US television chef with her TV cooking/talk show, 14 best-selling cookbooks (as of 2008), her own magazine in 2005 Every Day with Rachael Ray), and cookware endorsements. In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated Ray's earnings for the year at $16 million. Garnered national attention from a 2001 segment on the Today show that aired during a blizzard; was signed to a $360,000 contract the next day by the Food Network. Nominated for Emmys for 30 Minute Meals and Rachael Ray. Known for her perkiness and big smile; famous trademark terms: "Yum-o!" and "EVOO" (for extra-virgin olive oil).


"Trim a sliver off one side of a peeled whole onion to keep it stable as you slice it... give it 'feet' for stability."

"Saffron powder is sometimes available in small, affordable envelopes near the fish counter. Saffron threads are more expensive, but tin will last a long time — just remember to keep it in a cool place away from the heat of the stove. "

"The colder the cheese is, the easier it will be to dice. Pop it in the freezer while you prep everything else and you find that dicing it up will be a freezer-breeze-r!"

Extracted from: Ray, Rachael, 365: No Repeats - A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners, A 30-Minute Meal Cookbook, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, NY, NY, 2005.


"When dressing a salad with olive oil and vinegar, always put the acid (vinegar) on first. If you add the oil first, it keeps the acid from getting to the greens."

"To sweeten a tomato sauce recipe, don't add sugar—simply add half a minced onion to the garlic beforehand, and let it soften and sweeten over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Then add your tomato products."

"After a weekly trip to the market, wash and pack all your greens and herbs in plastic bags with damp paper towels before storing in the fridge. It'll save you prep time all week."

Extracted from: Ray, Rachael, Reader's Digest website, "Rachael Ray's Kitchen Shortcuts," (, November 2005.

"When you really want to show some love, keep the flowers and say it with spaghetti."

Extracted from: Internet Movie Database website (/>


"I don't want anything to separate me from the viewers. I open the cans, I chop the onions myself, and I wear street clothes. I don't want people to look at what I do and think that they can’t do that too. It’s extremely important. That's why I don't wear a chef's coat. I don't even wear an apron. At home, I wipe my hands on my coat, I burn my fingers, and it doesn't look perfect. But it is my food. It's the real deal... I'm happy that way."

Extracted from: "Rachael Ray Quotes," Famous-Entrepreneurs website (


"Leave a big garbage bowl on the counter. I can throw all my garbage in there and not run back and forth a million times to the garbage can."

Extracted from: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah website, "30-Minute Meals" (


Chef foods divider


Cutlery image Ryan Hughes

Executive chef of Lee Circle in Hotel Le Cirque, New Orleans; was named one of the Best Restaurants in America by Gourmet.

"I use apples to ripen other fruit. This works especially well in my restaurant kitchen when I need to ripen avocados or plantains. I place the unripe fruit on top of the case of apples, and in return, the ripening process is speeded twofold. This is also a good technique for the home kitchen because people who do not have access to locally and organically grown produce typically end up having to select from the unripe fruit and vegetables that are peddled in so many supermarkets."

Extracted from: Maroukian, Francine, Chef's Secrets: Insider Techniques from Today's Culinary Masters, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA, 2004.


Chef foods divider


Cutlery image Wolfgang Puck

World-famous chef, owns several high-end, successful restaurants, including Spago Beverly Hills, Spago Chicago, Spago Las Vegas, Spago Palo Alto, and Wolfgang Puck American Grille. Has hosted several TV cooking shows and had six best-selling cookbooks. For more than a decade, his Wolfgang Puck Catering company has created the cuisine for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' post-Oscar-show Governor’s Ball, the official party of the Academy Awards®. In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated his earnings for the year at $13 million. His ever-growing empire includes branded cookware, utensils, and appliances sold on Home Shopping Network, Sam's Club, and the Frontgate catalogue, and his packaged goods include Wolfgang Puck All-Natural pizza, All-Natural and Organic Wolfgang Puck Soups, Stocks and Broths, and Wolfgang Puck's Coffee. Is committed to charity work.


"Never use salmon bones and heads for fish stock. The fish is too fatty and strong-tasting."

"Choose artichokes with tightly closed leaves that show no cracks. I find that kitchen scissors are the perfect tool for trimming the sharp tips of artichoke leaves quickly and easily."

"Use a nonstick crêpe pan with shallow, curved sides that allow you to flip the crêpes over easily. Traditional iron crêpe pans work beautifully, too, as long as they are properly seasoned and never touch water. Wipe iron pans clean with a paper towel after they cool; they should be used only for crêpes."

"One of the things I love about breakfast and brunch is that they're meals that chefs actually get to cook at home quite often. I will admit, though, that Europeans are sometimes perplexed by the fact that Americans often invite guests for breakfast; we would never consider entertaining our friends so early in the morning!"

"If you don't have time to make stock, but do have bones from a roasted chicken, put them in the freezer. You can always make the stock on a rainy day."

"Hangar steak, flat-iron steak, and flank steak are wonderful and less expensive replacements for New York steak or filet mignon."

Extracted from: Puck, Wolfgang, Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy: Delicious Recipes for Your Home Kitchen, Rutledge Hill Press, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN, 2004.

"Store tomatoes at room temperature. Never put tomatoes in the refrigerator, as their sugars will cease to develop and their flavor will be muted."

"When making mashed potatoes, after you drain the potatoes return them to the hot pan, cover tightly, and allow them to steam for 5 minutes. Doing this allows them to dry out so they'll mash to a beautiful texture and soak up the butter and cream more readily."

Extracted from: HSN website, "Wolfgang Puck Tips," (

"When deep-frying, choose an oil that has a high smoke point. Corn, canola, peanut, soy, and safflower oils are excellent choices. Also, change your oil after each use to prevent unhealthy substances from being introduced to your food."

Extracted from: HSN website, "More Tips and Techniques from Wolfgang Puck," (


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