Should I Tell My Host She’s Making a Cooking Mistake?

updated May 24, 2019
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Q: I’m often in the kitchen at gatherings hosted by friends and family, sometimes helping out, sometimes just chatting with the host while they cook. The past few months I have observed many cooking no-nos, but feel like it is not my place to take over or correct the cooking error. Or is it?

For example, for Christmas dinner a buffalo tenderloin was broiled for almost thirty minutes before it was “rescued”! Any tips on tactfully helping the cook to make the meal taste better? Or when visiting is it better to just let it go and fill up once I get home?

Sent by Christi

Editor: Great question, Christi! As a guest in someone else’s kitchen, I typically only speak up if I see a food safety misstep that might lead to illness — raw seafood thawing on the counter for hours, for instance — or if someone is clearly struggling with a technique and would welcome my advice. Either way, I find the best approach is to offer my help non-judgmentally (“Should I put this in the fridge for you?” “You know, I just learned a great trick for doing that….”) and back down if they seem at all put off. Other than that, I keep my thoughts to myself, no matter how much I might be itching to give advice.

Readers, how do you handle situations like these? Do you speak up when you see a host making a cooking mistake or do you find it’s smarter to keep it to yourself?


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