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The Complete Guide to Cooking as a Hobby




cooking class in a restaurant kitchen

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Food is a language everyone can understand and if you love new flavors, creativity, and serving to others with flair, you will be well cut out for developing cooking as a hobby. 

The proliferation of cookery shows, channels, and blogs demonstrates that cooking is so much more than the evening chore of putting something hot and fresh on a plate!

You will find that your senses will be enlivened, palate broadened, and diet improved by some well-planned culinary adventures.

Masterful cookery skills are not a given and if you think that you are the type of person who could burn a boiled egg, a cookery hobby may give you newfound confidence in getting into the kitchen.

Hobby cookery is one of the most versatile hobbies as it is all about your exploration and creativity with food.

You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay or Paula Deen, just bring an open mind, enthusiasm, and a good appetite to the table.

So, join us as we take a look at hobbyist cooking. We will explore what a cookery hobby involves, the types of cooking you might like to try, where you can improve your skills, and of course, the tools of the trade. 

Get your chef’s hat and your apron on and head over to the kitchen to cook up a storm!

Cooking is a popular pastime for people all over the world and has all the right ingredients for being a thriving hobby you can enjoy over a lifetime.

As people everywhere are learning more about where food comes from and different types of cuisine, it is understandable that you may want to devote time to learning about food and the best methods for preparing it.

What is Cooking?

For some, it is an art. For others, it’s a science. Cooking at its most basic is the act of using heat to prepare food for consumption.

Across nations, cultures, and civilizations the methods used are strikingly similar and typically involve:

  • Boiling
  • Frying
  • Sautéing
  • Blanching
  • Roasting
  • Grilling
  • Smoking
  • Baking

With cookery, the skill is in how you combine ingredients and use the heat masterfully to get your intended result. Overdo or underdo the heat applied and your results will be unpalatable.

So, your new hobby will be all about the success, failure, and general experimentation necessary to become a fabulous cook, sourcing curious ingredients and using intriguing culinary implements to prepare delicious fare.

Why Cooking is a Hobby Everyone Should Try!

An interest in cooking can not only be perceived as being rather elitist but also as unhealthy, given the concern in the western world with the health consequences of eating to excess.

Cooking, however, is far from these two extremes and is really about thinking and planning about how you and others will eat well and make a success of using the ingredients you have.

Take a look at one of my favorite videos on YouTube about the importance of cooking and home cooked food. After watching this you’ll understand why we feel cooking is a great hobby.

Here is our take on why cooking is a hobby to make your own:

Cooking is a great way of getting people of all ages together

 They used to say that the kitchen is the heart of the home and as you start creating amazing, aromatic dishes, we are sure you will find that you have plenty of helpers, or at least, taste testers.

But seriously, learning recipes or preparing a meal is something you can do with children, friends, and relatives. You will enjoy the teamwork and sense of accomplishment.

With children especially, cooking is great for introducing new flavors and healthy foods, which they will be more willing to try as they have seen them being skillfully prepared. 

By practicing your cookery hobby you will be gaining a great life skill.

 In a world where so much of what we eat is fast or processed food, often delivered to your door, cooking a meal from scratch is becoming an infrequent event in many households.

Even if you do sit down at the table for dinner, the chances are you didn’t make it. Getting into cooking is an opportunity to cement the basics of preparing a fine meal and building on it.

Being able to cook is a skill that you will fall back on wherever you go in life, especially if you have responsibility for others.

It is adaptable too, meaning that you will be able to make a feast of any ingredients you have to hand, no matter how simple. 

Your cookery hobby will save you big cash!

Unless you are eating gold-leaf for breakfast, lunch, and dinner you are going to save money by turning your attention to the art of cooking well.

If you add up the takeout, snacks, drive-thru stop-offs, and restaurant meals you could be getting through in even an average month you will probably find that it all adds up to a significant amount of cash.

group of young would be chefs
Children love to cook and it’s a great hobby for all the family

Perhaps start your hobby by learning to recreate your favorite fast foods or baked goods. You will be amazed how much you and your household will appreciate your home cooking and how quickly you will co-opt cost-effective fresh, seasonal ingredients into your recipes.

That’s not to mention money spent on ready-meals or processed food at the grocery store. By developing your cooking hobby, you will be learning how to cook from raw and basic ingredients, which is not only cheaper but healthier too.

By doing this your family could save hundreds of dollars per year and eat really well.

Being a hobbyist cook will help you gain an appreciation of eating local, seasonal foods.

Once you learn the proper methods for preparing particular fresh food, fruits, and meats, you will begin to discern the seasonality of food, which can be missed out on if you rely solely on a grocery store.

You may find yourself heading to the local farmer’s market or taking advantage of a glut of summer fruits in the warmer months.

Locally raised meat can seem extremely pricey when compared to what is available at the supermarket, but as you learn about meat you will understand how to get the most out of smaller, better cuts.

Your cookery hobby will certainly take you to your butcher and fishmonger and may even get you starting your own kitchen garden as well. 

Your new cooking hobby is the perfect way to serve others.

Being able to provide a meal is not only a good way to serve your family but also a fantastic way of reaching out to families with a new baby, the isolated, or seniors who would really appreciate a warm and heartening home-cooked meal.

Food is a powerful way of relating to others and can easily cross language or cultural barriers.

Your cookery skills may also come in handy if you volunteer at a food bank or shelter, perhaps by batch-cooking meals or sharing some cheap but filling recipes.

If you are always out on the town with friends and relatives, why not invite them for a night in, by creating a supper club with your favorite dishes. 

Cooking is an excellent outlet for your creativity!

If you are not so good at arts and crafts, you may find that your creative energies can be put to excellent use by cooking.

Mastering a specific type of cuisine or recipe requires just as much practice and perseverance as other hobbies.

With cooking, the basic principle of how you handle and prepare different foods can be mastered, then you can begin to experiment and develop your own signature dishes. 

What Types of Cooking can I do as Part of My Hobby?

Cookery as a hobby is broad in scope and you may be overwhelmed by the range of foods you may want to try to prepare.

Many amateur chefs and cooks find that they can be most productive by settling upon a specific type of cooking and developing their skills in that area, much like the famous self-taught doyenne of French cuisine, Julia Child.

Here are some styles of cooking you may want to try:

Haute cuisine

Haute cuisine literally means “high cooking” and is a cooking tradition that is characterized by exotic or expensive ingredients, meticulous attention to detail, and exquisite presentation. It is found in the fine dining establishments of the world and has its origins in the epicurean habits of the French aristocracy. You should try this type of cooking as part of your hobby if you want to prepare meals with an overt extravagance and create unique and memorable dining experiences for yourself and others. Study and practice will make perfect as you explore the different types of haute cuisine, from cuisine Classique to nouvelle cuisine, a more contemporary interpretation of the tradition’s classical origins.

male chef teaching a cooking class
Cooking courses and night classes are a great way to learn

Great resources for learning haute cuisine

World cuisine

This type of cooking enables you to traverse the globe from the comfort of your kitchen. Embracing the cuisines of different nations and cultures will yield many surprises, new styles of cooking, and hopefully some lifelong favorites. There are many styles of cooking that, depending on your location, you may not have experienced. Popular world cuisine includes:

Caribbean cooking like Jamaican jerk, festivals, roti, tamales. Why not get inspiration, ideas, and recipes from the Cook like a Jamaican channel on YouTube?

West African cooking with delicious foods like fried and roasted plantain, Senegalese Chicken Yassa, lime cake, and the party classic Jollof rice. If you want to learn about the spice and flair of West African cuisine, British-Nigerian Chef Bellefull is an expert on Nigerian cooking techniques and has some real crowd-pleasing recipes to share. 

Korean food is becoming very popular as the unique ingredients and distinctive flavors are now more widely known and appreciated. If you want to know your kimchi from your sriracha, My Koren Kitchen is a great Korean-authored blog with recipes that are delicious and easy to try.

Pastry or patisserie

Patisserie involves baking pastries, bread, cakes, and deserts, the focus being on working with baked goods. If you are imaginative and artistic you will enjoy creating uniquely presented tarts and pastries.

To get the best results, some training may be needed and of course lots of delicious practice in the kitchen as you master a weightless choux pastry or buttery and feathery croissants.

Lorraine Pascale , a UK pastry chef has authored some well-received cookbooks that really open up this area of cuisine. British baking show, The Great British Bake Off, is a TV show that has brought cooking back to the public’s attention; inspiring people to give baking a go at home.

delicious looking cakes

Spit roasting, smoking, BBQ, or Braai

These types of cooking are great for those of you who love collecting equipment, getting outdoors, and experimenting like mad scientists.

Learning to BBQ and smoke meat well is a technical matter and you will find that in the Southern US states, Australia, and South Africa a maestro on the grill is revered.

Once you try it, you will be hooked and wanting to fire up the gas grill or ignite coals all year round. You can choose to grill or smoke meat, fish, or cheese and may want to experiment with more traditional pit roasting or spit roasting techniques.

If this is your kind of thing, you can’t get any more rough and ready with grilled meats than the BBQ Pit Boys. They will even skin and grill alligators if your stomach can handle it. 

Foraged, wild food and game

This is a great food hobby for those who are interested in living off the land or finding edible foods in the natural environment where they live.

It can involve anything from foraging blackberries from a local hedge to getting on your camo gear and bow hunting deer or shooting ducks.

If you are by the sea, you may be able to source your mussels, clams, or fish for your suppers.

This type of cookery hobby is not just about cooking, it’s also about appreciating where food comes from and putting in the effort to get it for yourself.

Here are some great wild game cooking videos from Texas Parks and Wildlife to whet your appetite!

Where Can I Learn How to Cook?

If you feel like you have two left thumbs when it comes to cooking, take courage, everyone has to learn to cook and you can too.

If you are not experienced in cooking it may be easier to follow recipes, tutorials, and classes precisely as you won’t be bringing your ideas or improvisations to the table.

Cookery books are a great place to start in building an understanding of how cooking works.

By reading them you will begin to see the methodical approach that good cooks take to preparing food, and how food changes as it is prepared.

Building a considered collection of cookbooks will help you out if you run into trouble in the kitchen as experienced cooks and chefs always share their last-minute tips or troubleshooting for their recipes.

Food blogs have proliferated online as people who enjoy cooking share their creations with the world wide web.

They are often the best sources of information for world cuisine because they are authored by people who are actually from the places the food is from.

As you progress with your cooking hobby you may also find that you would like to record your culinary successes and failures in the form of a blog. 

Courses and classes will gain you an invaluable real-world experience of the technicalities involved in cooking well.

Yes, you could get a parent, aunt, or friend to show you but when you take a course you will be receiving instruction from professionals who will be focused on getting results.

Courses are fantastic for skilled areas of cooking like pastry or haute cuisine. You can complete an online course via video link, or better still, head out into your community to participate in a class that doubles up as a delicious supper club.

stainless steel kitchenware

What Tools and Equipment Should I Buy for My Cookery Hobby?

Cooking as a hobby differs from grabbing something out of the fridge to prepare the daily meal as you will be putting more thought and planning into creating a winning dish.

If you want to achieve good results with your cooking, using the right tools and implements to prepare and cook your food will give you better results than your old burnt out or scratched pans.

As you begin to master different cooking techniques you will appreciate the quality of your cookery tools. Sites like the William Sonoma blog and The Kitchn are great for gleaning pointers on performance cookware.

Quality items are expensive, but you may be able to score some amazing pieces of cookware via thrift stores or classifieds. If you buy well once, you will save on replacing and repairing broken items. 

Here are 10 priority tools of the trade for the hobby cooking enthusiast: 

set of kitchen knives hanging
  1. Knives: a set of high-quality forged knives can last a lifetime and will make all the difference in preparing your recipes accurately and safely. You can forgo having a whole set and rather invest in the best bread knife, chef’s knife, and a paring knife (a must for fish), you can afford.
  2. Cutting boards: can seem like they could be overlooked but are critical for the prep that underpins good cooking. Glass, plastic, and stone will blunt your knives, but a solid wood cutting board is a keeper. 
  3. Non-stick pans:  have revolutionized the way we cook but should not be abused with excessive heat and scratching metal spatulas and spoons. Ceramic technology is a great alternative to Teflon. 
  4. Cast iron pans:  are an American classic and perfect for cooking on the hob, under the grill, and in the oven. If you find them second hand, buy them immediately. Learn how to care for and properly season your pan to enjoy a lifetime’s good eats with it. 
  5. Dutch oven: bring hearty stews, roasts, and casseroles to life! They are a common wedding gift because they do last a lifetime and can be used on the range and in your oven.
  6. A set of stainless-steel or copper pots and pans:  The weight of the pans and how they distribute heat is key to their longevity and performance. 
  7. A blender: is essential for creating sauces or other mixtures as part of your recipes.
  8. A mixer: is an ideal kitchen companion for the baking and pastry enthusiast as the classic mixers come with settings for kneading, mixing and produce delectably consistent results. 
  9. Spatulas: will scrape, spread, and beat all sorts of foods and you will find that you rely on them to minimize wastage when emptying bowls of delicious cake mix or cookie batter. 
  10. Set of stainless-steel bowls:  You can never have a bowl that is too large if you are keen on cooking well. Having a set of bowls means that you can portion out and prepare different parts of your recipe and mix them adequately. They are vital for a lot of baking as you need room in the bowl to beat air into your eggs and cake batters. 

5 top brands of cookware for the hobby cook to collect.

Without becoming a hoarder, there are several excellent brands for the hobby chef to look out for when stocking the kitchen. One of the things with cooking is that there are so many random appliances and tools that you can end up hoarding items you will not use regularly.

Rather, look for high-quality staples that you will rely on for your cooking again and again!

  • Staub  specializes in premium cast-iron cookware, favored by chefs across the globe. Their pots, pans, and dutch ovens are enamel coated making them easy to clean. 
  • Le Creuset  is another company that is renowned for its high-quality cast iron and ceramic cookware that can cost hundreds of dollars. Signature pieces like their coquilles can cost hundreds of dollars.
  • KitchenAid  is a world-famous US home appliance brand. Its stand mixer is an absolute classic for bakers who relish working with the old vintage models! Knead, beat, and whip your concoctions in the classic stainless-steel bowl.
  • Cuisinart   is a respected company for kitchen appliances like food processors and hand blenders.
  • Lodge  is highly rated for classic cast iron cookware, which is favored by lovers of outdoor cooking. 

Rounding Up 

After all this talk of food, we hope we have whetted your appetite for starting your culinary adventure with a cooking hobby. One of the best things about cooking is that you can simply start with what you have and learn to cook that well.

If you only have eggs, you can learn to poach them, scramble them, create omelets of Hollandaise sauce!

The most important thing is that you enjoy the process and build your knowledge, skill, and experience with food. 

Bon Appetit!

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