What makes a good cook?
Well, how long is a piece of string…? As far as I’m concerned, a good cook has a mastery of the basic techniques, as well as an understanding of how to work with ingredients in order to enhance them. For example, it takes a long time to be able to effortlessly slice, dice, or mince basic ingredients — and once you develop the ability, any vegetable begins to look different. Now there is an appreciation for this inanimate object, and suddenly, the possibilities for what any vegetable can do become miraculously endless.
If, on the other hand, you receive these ingredients already primped and prepped for you — as you do with Blue Apron — you lose that child-like sense of inspiration that makes cooking so unpredictable. It’s not that I dislike Blue Apron—regardless of the current class action lawsuit against them. As a concept, I think it’s brilliant! But, if you’re trying to improve your already-elevated cooking and are committed to understanding things like fabricating vegetables and utilizing a not-so-obvious ingredient, Blue Apron is not the vessel to carry you there. Despite its burgeoning popularity, the food service thwarts that sense of creativity, which for me, is the very essence of cooking.
Sure, Blue Apron will work for you if you’re hoping for some exposure to a couple of different ingredients, not to mention the fact that it can save you a trip to the grocery store, but other than that I’d say steer clear of the cookie-cutter instructions and time frames. You’re better off making a bunch of mistakes and learning from them.
Part of the joy of cooking is knowing how to handle each step yourself. Blue Apron dulls that joy by taking some of the craft out of the home cook’s hands. As Jacques Pepin once put it: “I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. If you are a jeweler, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand. You have to learn the process. You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you.”