Does he let inspiration dictate his menu? People who regularly cook sans recipe tend to be creative thinkers. “When determining ingredients, seasonings, times and temperatures, they turn to personal thoughts, experiences and feelings,” says Tom Castrigno, a personal chef in Colorado and founder of HealthyMealsMadeEasily.com. “Choosing a cooking method -- such as poaching versus baking -- is usually based on mood.” This chef likely holds an image in mind of the finished dish, and uses that as guidance for to what to do next. These are attributes of “creative” types who are often very sensitive to their surroundings.
Spice Things Up: Sharing in meal preparation with this cook can be a challenge. Since he is making it up as he goes along, he may not be able to direct another person on what tasks need to be done as the meal evolves. Your best bet? Provide “damage control.” Keep the sink clear and put away ingredients as they are done being used. In both cases, be sure to ask if the chef is through with the item. Offering suggestions or asking if a certain ingredient will be included is generally ill-advised -- these may be perceived as critiques. Your contribution to the meal in the form of music, candles, or a creative table setting will be appreciated and will show the chef that you have a creative streak too. Let this bit of teamwork lead to other “collaborations.”