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Mark Bittman of How to Cook Everything talks to Lifehacker about the 4 progressive stages of learning to cook

I started cooking around age 8, by age 10 I was making advanced constructions like Chicken Cordon Bleu and Rolled Cakes with Cream. So, according to Mark Bittman’s theory on the stages of cooking recently published on Lifehacker, I reckon I am in stage 4. What exactly are the 4 stages of cooking?

Perhaps you never learned to cook, or perhaps you are beginning. In a recent article on Lifehacker, Mark Bittman describes the 4 stages of learning to cook. Bittman took on cooking for the family after a new baby and  a wife in medical school. The key point here is he did not even begin to explore cooking until he was an adult. So don’t be intimidated if you didn’t start young like me. Bittman is after all now the author of one of the most popular and lauded cookbooks in recent time, How to Cook Everything. and a food columnist for the New York Times.

Bittman says cooking gave his life a new sense of purpose and as he went through that journey, he tells Lifehacker he observed 4 stages of teaching yourself to cook:

  • “First you follow recipes slavishly (learning how to follow a recipe first).
  • In stage two, you learn your preferences and start to compare and synthesize some of the recipes you’ve learned. If you’re dedicated, he says, you consult two or more cookbooks before starting anything.
  • Stage three is when you start to seek out new things: new cookbook authors, new ingredients, or similar flavor profiles that match what’s become your style. Some people start to bring cookbooks to bed for inspiration at this stage, relying less on recipes.
  • Finally, in stage four, you’re a mature cook with a fully developed repertoire and who can start cooking without knowing what the final dish will look like.”

Bittman insists learning to cook isn’t that hard. And I actually agree. If you can read a recipe and follow directions, you can easily get started. Or maybe you are a pro already.

Tell me what stage of learning to cook are you in?

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