December 31, 2014
Make some culinary New Year's resolutions this year, like locally sourcing ingredients and taking time to cook for yourself.

New Year’s is a great time to make goals for the coming months. This year, use the skills you’ve learned in culinary school to achieve new goals with cooking. Here are some resolutions to try out:

Use more local ingredients
Colorado culinary school students have a lot of options for local fare. From fresh produce like onions and mushrooms to delicious proteins like antelope, moose and whitetail deer, you have an amazing source of ingredients in the local area. Not only are locally-sourced ingredients readily available, you can even go out and hunt for the meat and grow the produce yourself. Knowing where your ingredients come from allows for a better quality meal. Plus, as a chef you are in a critical place to support local businesses like farms and butcher shops. Using local ingredients also means that your meals will be fresher and have better flavor than frozen items.

Savor the flavor
Many people don’t take the time to fully enjoy their meals. As a chef it is particularly important to really savor the flavor of each dish and treat it like a learning opportunity. Notice the spices and how the food was cooked. Ask questions about the ingredients and where they are from. Don’t put all your passion and energy into culinary school homework and then end up eating frozen burritos every night. Cooking for yourself is an important chance to develop your palette and learn what food does and doesn’t work together. This is a valuable time to work on your culinary skills.

Try something new
It is easy to get into habits, especially when you’ve been cooking for a few years. While it’s important to know how to get the perfect consistency of risotto and to be able to do it properly every time, it is also necessary to switch things up a bit. Maybe there is an ingredient that you have been meaning to try or a dish that you’d like to emulate – give it a go! If you’re looking for inspiration, grab a cookbook and flip to a random page. Make that dish or completely revamp the recipe to your own liking. Following chefs you admire is another great place to find inspiration. Learn from their mistakes and try some of their methods. If you personally know a chef that you look up to, see if you can cook with them on a regular basis, be it once a month or whatever works for your schedules. This way you can have an in-person inspiration session to give you some ideas of new foods to try. It also never hurts to watch cooking shows on TV. While you’re not likely to have Mario Bitali on speed dial, you can still learn from him while watching his shows.

Work on Presentation
Flavorful food is imperative to being a good chef and running a well-loved eating establishment. But if your food doesn’t look good, you’re missing out on an opportunity to entice people to try it. Spend time with each dish, completely rearranging the entire plate so that you have a final product that represents how amazing it tastes. Sloppy presentation will lose customers before they’ve even taken a bite.