Chef Alex Blifford The cast of The Most Beautiful Room in New York are talented actors, singers, and dancers, but a few of them have to show some culinary talent on stage too. To help the actors out director Gordon Edelstein asked the talented Alex Blifford to come visit rehearsal. [caption id="attachment_1801" align="alignleft" width="285"]Alex Blifford and actor Matt Bogart Alex instructing actor Matt Bogart[/caption] Alex is the Chef de Cuisine at Zinc, one of our restaurant partners. He was happy to give a hands-on tutorial on knife skills and share some other important pointers on how the actors can convince the audience they're naturals in a professional kitchen. Edelstein and actor Matt Bogart who plays chef David Kaplan were especially appreciative of the expert guidance on such things as chopping onions and applying rosemary to roast lamb. After his visit we asked Alex for some tips for all you aspiring chefs at home and this is what he shared: #1 Mise en place  It's French for in its place. The most common mistake people will make is not reading the recipe through and organizing the ingredients before they start a recipe. Read the recipe a couple times so you're familiar with it and have your ingredients ready to go and in order. #2 Right tool for the right job Some recipes call for a food processor. Others may require to clean and trim a very delicate ingredient. If you don't have the right equipment odds are the recipe won't come out right either. If you care about the quality of the end product then take the time to get the right tools. #3 A good sharp knife makes all the difference One of the biggest mistakes cooks can make is using a cheap dull knife. They can be bulky and cumbersome. It's harder to cut through dense things with a dull blade and will ultimately take you much longer to prepare the recipe than it should. Find a good cutlery or kitchen store and go handle a few, see what feels good in your hand. Then you can always go buy it for less online if you have sticker shock. I guarantee you'll notice immediate results. #4 Read, read, read All chefs need inspiration from time to time. The average person is not surrounded by amazing chefs on a daily basis. You need to search out sources to expand your knowledge. Culinary text books are great for learning the science. Cook books are great for expanding your depth of cuisine. Blogs and magazines can keep you up on trends and give you quick, unique ideas you can try. #5 Don't be afraid to make mistakes Not everything you make is going to come out perfect. Every recipe you try isn't going to be a winner. It happens to the most tried and true professionals. Don't shy away from recipes because they look too difficult. Make a dish a couple times if it's not perfect at first. Use a recipe you're comfortable with and switch up a few ingredients. You won't be able to learn from errors if you are too scared to make a few. You can learn more about Alex on Zinc's blog and be sure to make reservations at Zinc to enjoy the result of all those killer skills: his delicious food. -Kimberly Shepherd