A Good Cook is a Safe Cook!

A Good Cook is a Safe Cook!


From There's a Chef in my Soup

By Emeril Lagasse

Hey, cooking is a lot of fun! I love everything about working in thekitchen-how the food looks, feels, and smells and of course how ittastes when you’re all done. But it’s really important to remember thatcooking is serious stuff. If you don’t pay attention in the kitchen, youcan get hurt very easily-and I want to be sure that doesn’t happen. Sobefore we get started, let’s go over some ways to be safe in thekitchen.


-Remember to always ask permission from your mom or dad or any adult incharge before you begin cooking.

-Never cook by yourself. It’s always a good idea to have an adultnearby, especially when using sharp knives or graters, electricalappliances, hot burners, and the oven.

-You can do a lot of things yourself if you’re careful, but ask forhelp when you need it-like lifting heavy pots. Being smart in thekitchen is important!

-You have to dress right for the kitchen-not to look good but to besafe and comfortable. Cooking clothes should be roomy but not too loose.Loose clothing can get caught on equipment, and you always have to beespecially careful around an open flame. Long sleeves should be rolledup tight so they don’t get in the way.

-Loose, long hair is a big no-no! If you have long hair, tie it back soit doesn’t get in your way or into the food.

-Most jewelry isn’t safe in the kitchen. Don’t wear anything thatdangles. If you wear a watch, be sure it’s waterproof. 


-Always review the recipe you will be preparing before you begin. Makesure you have all the ingredients you need, and that all the tools andequipment are ready. Believe it or not, I still do this.

-If you don’t understand how to do something, ask an adult to explainit to you before you begin cooking.

-I like to measure out all my ingredients before I start. I cut, chop,mince, and mix ahead when I can, too. It makes cooking a breeze.BE CLEAN!

-Cleanliness is very important in the kitchen. I know I sound like agrown-up but it’s really true. You want the food you serve to be healthyand safe.

-Make sure you wash your hands especially well before and afterhandling raw meat-particularly poultry (chicken, duck, and raw eggs).Raw poultry can carry a germ called salmonella, which can make you verysick.

- Here’s a big secret we professional chefs have that I’ll let you inon: It’s a smart idea to clean up as you go along. That way, any toolsthat you need again will be clean and ready for you, and you’ll haveplenty of room on your counter to work. Best of all, you won’t end upwith a mountain of dirty dishes just when you want to be sitting down toenjoy your yummy creation.

-Never put knives or other sharp objects in sinks filled with water andother utensils-you can cut yourself when you reach into the water. Italso damages the blades. It’s best when working with knives to wash themwell with soap and water as soon as you’re finished with them.

-Cutting boards should always be washed with soap and warm water aftereach use. When you’re using them to prepare raw meat or poultry, youhave to be even more careful than usual! Unclean cutting boards can passgerms along to other foods, and some germs (like salmonella) can makeyou sick. When in doubt wash, wash, wash.


-It’s really important to have an adult close by whenever you’recooking on the stove or in the oven, and they should be around fromstart to finish, when you turn the appliance off. Don’t ever use thestove-or the oven-when you’re home alone!

-Be extra careful of hot surfaces when cooking. It’s easy to tell whena stovetop with a gas (open) flame is on; it’s less obvious on stoveswith electric or radiant burners, which are just as hot. Check yourstovetop or oven controls carefully before you get to work.

-Pot holders and oven mitts rule in the kitchen! If you’re not sure ifsomething is hot, use pot holders or mitts just to be on the safe side.And hey-it’s really important that pot holders and oven mitts are drywhen you use them. If they’re wet, the heat will go right through themand burn you faster than you can say, "Bam!"

-Never, ever leave food unattended while it’s cooking!

-Always remember that the outside surface of the oven also gets hotwhen the oven is on, so don’t lean against it when it’s on.

-When cooking on top of the stove, always remember to turn your longpot handles to the side or toward the center. But make sure they’re notover an open flame. They shouldn’t hang over the edge of the stove,either-someone might walk by and knock into them by accident.

-Keep as far away as possible from hot, bubbling liquids. The bubblescan pop and splatter, and that can really burn. It’s also a good idea touse long-handled wooden spoons to stir hot things.

-When moving heavy pots filled with hot liquids or when lifting heavyroasting pans out of the oven, you need to be smart. If you’re sure youcan do it, use pot holders and be really careful. If you even think fora minute that the pot or pan is too heavy for you, don’t try to do ityourself. Ask an adult to help you!

-Remember to always uncover a hot pot so that the side of the lidfarthest away from you tilts up first. This way the steam will be as faraway from you as possible. Steam burns can really hurt! The same thinggoes for draining a pot that is full of hot liquid-always pour out, awayfrom you, so that the liquid and steam do not burn your hands or yourface.

-If you do happen to burn or cut yourself, or in case of a fire, callan adult immediately!


-Kitchen tools are just like any other tools-you have to know how touse them the right way. This is for your safety and also to help youtake care of your tools. If you’re not familiar with the right way tohold and use knives or other equipment, ask your mom or dad or thesupervising adult to show you, or check out our techniques section(pages 18-28) for the right ways to use most kitchen equipment.

-When learning how to work in the kitchen, be patient. It’s better topractice any technique slowly-particularly chopping, slicing, ormincing. That way you can be precise and safe. You will be surprised tosee that with just a little practice, you’ll become good at it in notime.

-Watch out using graters-they’re as sharp as knives! It’s real easy toscrape fingers and knuckles when you’re not paying attention.

-You have to be really careful when using electrical appliances such asthe toaster, microwave oven, toaster oven, blenders, and mixers. Theseare powerful tools that should be used with caution. Here are some quicktips to follow at all times:

-Always be sure your hands are dry when you plug something in.

-Never, ever put your hands or fingers inside any electrical appliancewhen it’s on.

-Remember to pull your hair back and not wear dangling jewelry.

-Hey, make sure the lid on your blender is on tight-if it’s not, yourfood will go all over the kitchen instead of inside your mouth.

-Always turn your mixer off before scraping down the sides of the bowlor adding ingredients. If a spoon or spatula gets caught in the turningbeaters, you’ll ruin the mixer and maybe hurt yourself, too.

-When you turn the mixer back on after adding ingredients, start on theslowest speed. That way, your ingredients won’t splash all over you.

This excerpt is used with permission. It is from Emeril: There's a Chef in My Soupby Emeril Lagasse, Charles Yuen (Illustrator)

You can order it from Amazon.com by clicking here.

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