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Don't Be a Mayo Swoosher + 99 Other Tips from Chefs

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Mon, May 2, 2011 at 8:30 AM

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The May 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine claims to give you the "100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of All Time!)." These are the "greatest" tips, presumably, because they come courtesy of "the top chefs in the country." Los Angeles represents well, with a number of our city's chefs offering their sage advice on everything from risotto (Suzanne Goin) to brining chicken (David Myers) to the proper application of mayonnaise on a slice of bread (Roy Choi).

The tips, including handwritten notes from Food Network chefs that are just waiting to be analyzed by budding graphologists, after the jump.

Among other Los Angeles chefs surveyed, Suzanne Goin gives a pointer about the theory and methodology behind that thirsty dish, risotto: "When made properly, risotto's richness comes from the starchy rice and the stock. As the risotto cooks, stir it with a wooden spoon in rhythmic movements that go across the bottom and around the sides of the pan. The rice should constantly be bubbling, drinking up the liquid as it cooks."

Kerry Simon has a kernel of advice about corn: "After cutting corn off the cob, use the back side of a knife (not the blade side) to scrape the cob again to extract the sweet milk left behind. This milk adds flavor and body to any corn dish."

Other words of wisdom: David Myers suggests a shortcut brining method that involves heavily salting the chicken inside and out about an hour before it goes into the oven. Nancy Silverton recommends that you "invest in a bottle of high-quality olive oil." And Roy Choi cautions against the impulse to be a lazy mayo swoosher when making a sandwich: "Spread the mayonnaise from corner to corner on the bread. People rush this step and just do a swoosh down the middle."

The Food Network's chefs submitted their tips via handwritten notes, and the handwriting is just as, or more, interesting as the tips themselves. Mario Batali, for example, apparently has an orange pen that he uncaps for situations just like this one, and accordingly writes his tip in his trademark color.

Aarón Sanchez's uneven, blocky, all-capital print probably conveys something about his personality, but we're not sure what exactly. Paula Deen's advice is handwritten in a very loopy, extravagant cursive. The "P" in particular - including (and especially) the "P" in "Paula" - is written with great flourish, as is the "R", which really is just a "P" with an extra line.

Emeril Lagasse writes his advice very neatly, with a mix of cursive and print. It's actually quite lovely, elegant, and somehow, despite his penchant for dropping the boisterous "BAM" bomb every five minutes, very fitting.

Overall, maybe these aren't quite the 100 greatest tips of all time (Juila Child's "When you flip anything, you just got to have the courage of your convictions" might be the best cooking tip, ever), but the list is worth a read. And the handwritten notes worth the armchair analysis.

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