The kitchen is their happy place — and it’s where they flourish with a creative and critical flair | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Six Telltale Signs of a Terrific Home Cook

Be enamoured this holiday season with their moves in the kitchen

Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke
4 min readDec 6, 2021


A great home cook stands out in the crowd beyond the kitchen domain. They adorn the family name and the friend group with great honour and bragging rights.

And they equally find themselves the talk of the office potluck, family gathering, and first date.

In the culinary spotlight, the busy holiday season no less puts them centre stage.

Where meals come and go, the elegantly skillful, resolute cook of the home always appears to be that one confident step ahead — or many steps.

While there are many measures of meritocracy within the culinary world, there are six signs of it to look out for.

From maintaining cooking utensils to knowing the difference between onions, take a fun look at these habits and traits of a terrific home cook.

How many of them can you check off?

1 | They Have a “Cook’s Palate”

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a cook’s palate.

Although it’s tricky to exactly pinpoint what it means to possess this unique characteristic — tastes can be wildly subjective and varying — a strong home cook yet knows a thing or two about salt.

They’re a salt specialist.

Even though it’s such an everyday occurrence — whether directly on the table or hidden in our food — the great home cook will certainly have a firm handle on the act of salting.

And therein lies the telltale sign itself — a difference between having a universal eater’s palate and that of a cook’s.

To which, she understands nuances in seasoning — under and over — and the ability to coax out flavour with just salt.

She trusts her palate to make spontaneous, yet calculated, judgement calls, too.

And, on a matter of style, she also picks and curates seasonings based on how well they enhance key proteins, like a pork chop, a chicken breast, or a fish fillet.

At the end of the day, however, there’s always style and substance when it comes to a cook’s palate.

2 | They Take Care of Their Knives

While having a dull palate is one thing, a knife’s deficiency is a whole other.

And dullness just doesn’t cut it — literally — for the serious home cook.

Immediately, having unsharpened blades is one shortcut to cutting your cooking chops by well over a half.

In fact, having a dull knife represents a potential hazard in the kitchen.

And yet, not only buying, but also using, the correct kind of knives for the specific task at hand also earns big points.

But caring for them speaks volumes of chef-like status.

Keeping one of the most important kitchen tools in tip-top form is nothing short of dedication and greatness.

And he will absolutely ensure that his knives are well taken care of and razor sharp as a top priority — including the fact that they’re properly stored.

Whenever you go over to his house for dinner, you’ll see him slice his lemons and parsley with ease, finesse, and accuracy.

When he himself is the sharpest knife in the drawer, you just know it when you see it.

3 | They Relate to Where Their Food Comes From

Understanding the origins of your food makes the transition from farm to table that much more tangible — and meaningful.

And in a world of an otherwise broad disconnect — it’s just a carton of milk or it’s simply a plate of eggs — the home cook endeavours to bridge this gap.

While it’s practically impossible for her to visit each and every farmer, she tries to build a healthy relationship with her food through education and awareness.

And through critical learning and thinking, she is fully aware that food isn’t just a means to an end — it’s a source of community, happiness, and reconciliation.

She also appreciates what beauty our planet has to offer with its bounty of nutritious foods that nourish, replenish, and satisfy our minds, bodies, and souls.

This can take place at the farmer’s market and at the dinner table just the same.

But it fosters an important conversation around our eating habits, environmental situation, and mental wellbeing, which all relates back to a relationship with where our food comes from.

4 | They’re Detail-Oriented

The well-versed and -styled cook is likewise meticulous with his attention to detail.

He knows which herbs and spices go with what he’s cooking; what temperatures his meats require; and when to salt his food.

Because there is, indeed, a very specific time and place for salt.

But at the end of the day, he always pays attention to the final outcome of his dishes — from appearance to taste.

5 | They Plan in Advance

A confident home cook looks ahead with their meal plans, grocery lists, and mise-en-place — she anticipates, prepares, and delivers.

Importantly, she takes a thorough look at her recipes well in advance of cooking.

To that end, she always appears to be perfectly in sync, in control, and at ease.

6 | They’re Adventurous

Cooking and eating the same, basic dish over and over — it doesn’t go over well with those who work hard to cook like a pro.

Excited about new and interesting flavourful opportunities, he understands that having a great culinary style and palate entails experimenting with different seasoning options, flavour combinations, and cooking methods.

And he’s even keen on going outside his comfort zone with exploring a different brand of product or style of cuisine.

Without hesitation, he’s always happy to push the flavour envelope — to which, there simply isn’t a food that’s off the table for him.

Related: The Chefs with the Most Michelin Starred Restaurants



Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke

With an appetite for words and a curiousity to follow a story, I love exploring the kitchen and the home as much as the outdoors, photographing along the way.