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What’s Your Cooking Style?

by Nick

A few weeks ago I was at a wedding and we were discussing cooking.

I kept getting asked the same question which is one that I don’t typically have a good answer for:

What style of cooking are you known for?

Or:

What are you best at cooking?

I guess this is because people hear I have a food blog and they assume that it’s something along the lines of dishes that only involve bacon or gluten-free or something.

I have to have a something right?

So I spent some time thinking about what my cooking style involves. I’m not really sure it’s a perfectly succinct answer, but here it goes.

Why do you need a something?

I remember this small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was a few blocks away from my apartment in DC.

On their menu they had:

– Hamburgers
– Fried Chicken
– Chicken Lo Mein
– Cheese steaks
– Spaghetti and Meatballs

Also see most mid-level chain restaurants that have a ten page menu. They feel the need to offer everything so they do all of it half-assed rather than picking a few items and making them well.

I think it makes sense for a restaurant to specialize in something.

But does the same go for the home cook? After all, I like to eat a wide variety of foods and cuisines so why shouldn’t I try to learn how to cook those things?

There’s a few reasons. First, it can be overwhelming. It’s a lot easier to start with, say, Italian food. Once you get the basics down, then you can start to branch out to some other Mediterranean styles.

But if you are just getting started in the kitchen, and trying to do too much at once, you’ll end up with a weekly meal plan that looks something like this:

Monday: Barbecue
Tuesday: Pizza
Wednesday: Sushi
Thursday: Tofu Stir Fry
Friday: My Head Explodes

So yea. It can be important to start slowly and with some specific cuisines in mind.

Second, if you are a food writer/blogger like myself, it’s a lot easier to find an audience if you have a thing.

If I only posted Italian recipes, then I’d have a large guido following, most of my traffic would come from the New Jersey/New York area, and I would weigh 400 pounds.

Instead, I kind of just post what I eat and cook which is a wide variety of things. This probably upsets some people and I’d be shocked if anybody liked everything I cooked. My wife certainly doesn’t.

That said, I think that over the years, I have developed a few larger themes that I think I can express.

My Cooking Style

Here’s a rundown on the basic style I try to follow here and also what I think I’m better at making.

Made-from-scratch Stuff – In general, I try to make stuff from scratch. This isn’t to say that I do it all the time, but I think it’s cool to make mayo by hand. I think it’s fun to know how to make really good sandwich bread from scratch.

Italian food – It’s in my blood and I do love it. Homemade pastas or pizzas. Give them to me please. I love cooking, eating, and feeding others this stuff.

Fusion Salads – When I asked Betsy what she thought I was best at making, this is what she said. Taking a few different ingredients from different cuisines and mixing them together is something I’ve gotten a lot better at. A good example of this is coming your way tomorrow.

Healthy and Hearty – It’s funny. There are days were I’ll be accused of being both too healthy and too unhealthy within the same hour. In reality though, I try to plan my weekly meal plans to be pretty balanced. If I have fried chicken one night, I’ll probably have something lighter the next night. I try to plan my posts in a similar fashion.

Tex-Mex – I love Tex-Mex, but my wife really loves Tex-Mex. So I’ve became sort of a Tex-Mex expert over the years.

Brunch – Breakfasts and brunches are actually my favorite meal of the day. There’s nothing better than starting the day with a good filling breakfast. I try to post one brunch/breakfast post a week, normally on Saturdays.

Of course, all of these are just general themes. At the end of the day, I’ve posted over 600 recipes here over the years. So it’s pretty hard to find a centralizing theme really.

What’s Your Style?

I’m curious how other people answer this question. When people ask you what your cooking style is or what your best at cooking, how do you answer? Leave a comment!

(The photo at the top is a mix between The Santa Fe Burger and a Truffled Scallop Dish.)

 

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21 comments on “What’s Your Cooking Style?

  1. We were actually at a graduation party this weekend and I got asked that very same question several times. Honestly, I couldn't come up with an answer. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing – but I did end up telling them that I enjoy the fact that I can cook something different and experiment with it throughout the week.
    My recent post Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

  2. Amongst friends, I'm known as the person with all sorts of food & cooking trivia that I'll trot out randomly. As much as they make fun of me, they still like that I can explain what obscure ingredients are in dishes at restaurants, so I think I'm coming out ahead there :)

  3. That's a really good question, and one as a fairly-new blogger I am still a little unsure about. I mean I obviously try to cook healthier options of everyday food, but I also love experimenting with new ingredients and there's a good chance I might be obsessed with Mexican food.
    But I don't think a blog necessarily needs to be super specific, maybe just "good food" can be a category :)
    My recent post You’re what the French call…

    1. I agree with you- I am obsessed with Mexican food! I grew up in Texas and the Mexican food really stuck with me. Tacos- enchiladas-guac and salsa anytime of the day!

      I really like the good food theme- not matter what I eat or make- I like it to be pretty and tasty!

  4. I do lots of Tex-Mex as well. In fact, I am cooking up some spiced black beans and chicken tinga as we speak. My husband calls me the Tex-Mexpert. I'm willing to share my title, should you like to borrow it.

  5. I think I'm the "wham bam thank you ma'am" kind of cook. I want to get in, get out, and be done with it most days. I enjoy cooking, but often the time just isn't there with everything else I have going on. And I've been known to forget to cook too–yes, really!

    My cooking style? I'd say it's probably plain 'ol American. We eat cheeseburgers, chicken fried whatever, casseroles, pot roasts, etc. Of course, we eat a fair amount of pizza and pasta too, but we just really like the southern style comfort food (minus the grits and collard greens, of course!) ;-) Food types we don't eat a lot of are Mexican/Tex-Mex (can't stand the stuff–too much onion and far too many peppers), salads, and my husband hates Oriental cuisine. I love brunch type stuff, and we often have breakfast for dinner. Sorry, I guess we're pretty boring in the kitchen.
    My recent post Lekala Nightie v20

  6. This post explains why I like your blog so much. The variety is wonderful. You make dishes I'd like to eat and show that I can make it myself. I tend to get tired of food blogs that have a 'something' because they can be very monotone. The mix of recipes, games, polls, and other miscellaneous things is what makes your blog so fun!
    My recent post Mans Best Friend Nashville Pet Photographer

  7. Funny — you should have asked us what your style is! If someone asked me, "oh, hey, why do you read Macheesmo?" I would say, "I like his style — everything is home made, with easily accessible ingredients, a lot of spice, and he makes even complicated recipes seem doable. Also, when I subscribe via email, I get all the step-by-step pictures so I can hold on to the recipes I want for my files and delete the ones I don't want."

  8. I've been trying to narrow my "focus" since I started my blog, thinking that's what I have to do. Maybe not… I love your blog because of its variety, so I'm beginning to rethink the narrow field route. I adore family-style recipes of any kind – big dishes of lasagna, beautiful salads made from the garden, etc. – and they can be "down home cooking" or hoity-toity dinner party food. The only requirement is that they have to be delicious! I'm exploring and expanding upon my culinary knowledge, and that's what I put on my blog. ;)
    My recent post Honey Pumpkin Spice Granola

  9. When I was a culinary school student (I wrote about it here, if you're interested: "Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood" http://amzn.to/eOKJWw – on Amazon Kindle) I cooked everything, every style. But at home? French comfort food, for sure.

  10. Definitely ethnic, but no particular ethnicity. I love to explore other cultures through food and always collect cookbooks when I travel.

  11. Not to steal too heavily from the master, but Nick, your style is all there in your masthead: Macheesmo. Cook something. Like kitty says above, you take the hard stuff and make it look easy. You also take the easy stuff and give it a twist that can really say "cooking" rather than merely executing a recipe. It's really a big encouragement to try new recipes, new techniques, new experiments. To steal from another master, it is "Just Do It." And it's more empowering than one would initially expect.

    My dad, who is my role model in the kitchen, has taken to using "The Flavor Bible" as his only cook book: he knows what he wants to make, he knows that he wants to tweak it, and he wants a touch of inspiration to figure out exactly how to tweak it. I see a lot of the same in your cooking.

  12. My original objective in hobbyist cooking has been to reproduce the savory dishes I have enjoyed over the years at restaurants. But I find myself getting caught up in projects, such as my quest to find the perfect pizza crust, the best baked beans, and so on. As I seem to move frequently, I have been become "known" for different dishes at different places. Here, I'm known as the woman who makes bitching yeast rolls. It's kind of nice not to be pinned down and to let my cooking evolve.

    But I really would like to be the one who cracks the code on that pizza crust. :)
    My recent post Healthy Kettle Corn You bet!

  13. I hate when people ask me that question because I can never answer them. I like to make everything. I was so glad to see this post because I was starting to wonder if I was the only person who couldn't identify their specific speciality.

  14. Mine is easy. Anything by fire.

    Since my cooking is mostly technique based on live fire cooking, it frees me up in almost every other aspect. I can do traditional smoking, back yard grilling, "stir firing" (wok on a grill), "brick oven pizza", fire roasted casseroles, or even this week, frying eggs on a griddle on the Big Green Egg. Everything comes back under the live fire umbrella. (PS: Cooking live fire under an umbrella can be a fire hazard and pose carbon monoxide risks…..)

    My recent post Buenos Aires Heart Stopper

  15. I’m curious on how I would be judger by others.
    When people ask me what’s my cooking style or what do I like to cook? Even,”What’s your specialty? It’s sometime hard to answer because I have learned to cook many different ethnic cuisines. A true understanding of how to blend knockout spices and marrying flavors from around the world to create your own fusion. Now do they really understand what I am saying?

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