Huda Mu'min and Mia Morgenstern left ABC's The Taste last Tuesday after a challenge asking contestants to make a sandwich. While the challenge sounds simple, Morgenstern assures that it was anything but. "People think that a sandwich is is really simple to make, but you want to have different components, textures and flavors," she explains. "The only difference is that you are somewhat constrained because it has to go between two pieces of bread."
Morgenstern, a home chef, and Mu'min, a personal chef running Pretty and Delicious, each noticed surprising differences in the work of the home cooks and the work of the professional chefs on the show.
For Morgenstern, "the biggest give away between the home cooks and the restaurant chefs was that the restaurant chefs always had clean stations," she says. She also noticed a significant difference in the methodology of each group's cooking. "Restaurant cooks placed much more of an emphasis on developing flavors instead of just combining them," she says. "Most home cooks think, 'cilantro, mint, garlic and coriander seeds, that will go really well together.' The restaurant chef is thinking, 'How am I going to get the most flavor out of the lamb? How am I going to get the most flavor out of these herbs?'"
Morgenstern hopes to implement the professional strategy of developing flavors in her own cooking at home. "There is really no reason why you can't do it at home," she says.
Mu'min picked up on another difference. She also found that "the professional chefs plate a lot prettier," she explains. "For most home cooks, which I applaud, you are cooking for your family, so you aren’t trying to make it pretty or like art, you are just trying to get it done."
Both contestants were thrilled to work with and learn from all of the home cooks, professional chefs and culinary celebrity mentors on the show. "Working with all those chefs from all those different backgrounds really opened my eyes a little bit to the multitude of things there are still to learn," Morgenstern explains. Mu'min agrees. "It was a really exciting experience," she says. "There were so many different personalities, backgrounds, philosophies on food and career paths."