America's Test Kitchen is truly set up like a home kitchen on steroids — 33 ovens, eight sinks, 20 fridges! But the kitchen is segmented into smaller workspaces to duplicate what a home cook has, and with 40 people testing recipes at any given time, these spaces are small and compact.
Tara asked Erin McMurrer, the test kitchen director, about the efficiency they've learned in this busy kitchen — are there lessons here from the test kitchen that could apply to the home cook? Erin had three main thoughts:
In order for us to be successful, we have to be incredibly organized. We maximize every square inch of the kitchen here.
1. Put your most-used tools in your most-used space:
Think about what your prime real estate is in your kitchen and use that space for the items you use all the time. If you use your pots and pans a lot, don't hide them in the back of a bottom cupboard.
2. Practice mise en place and set up your ingredients before you cook:
Our test cooks pull the equipment they need and mise their recipes before they start cooking. It saves time and prevents hair pulling! Also, We take in so many ingredients, we employ "first in, first out," and that reduces waste.
3. For extra space, use a cart on wheels:
We also have metal carts on wheels all over the kitchen. For the home cook, it's a great way to extend your work surface, especially for small spaces. You can keep your dirties on the bottom, ingredients or back up bowls on the second, and anything active on the top. It just rolls around wherever you need it. So useful!
Thanks so much, Tara and Erin!
See the full tour: A Visit Inside America's Test Kitchen
(Image: Tara Bellucci)