Mise-en-place is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up. For many chefs this phrase is not only a helpful saying, it’s a motto to live ones life by. Dan Charnas recently did a great piece on mise-en-place where he spoke to chefs about the practice and how it affects their time in the kitchen as well as their personal lives.
“It starts with your list,” says Wylie Dufresne, the James Beard award-winning chef and owner of New York restaurants wd~50 and Alder.
“What I used to do is, let’s say I had 23 items of mise-en-place I had to do every day. So I’d take a pad and I’d write them all down on the way home. And then I would crumple the list up and throw it out,” he says. “On my way to work I’d write the list again. And you become one with your list. You and the list are the same, because the list is scorched into your head.”
After I heard this story I couldn’t help but equate the practice to design. I’ve started to write more lists, I’ve created an editorial calendar to keep track of posts, I try to keep my desktop and worktop clean and organized. There’s something enjoyable to me about the regiment of mise-en-place, the commitment to your craft.