Cook of the Week: Inverness dad strives for precision in the kitchen
"Ten years ago I would never have guessed that I would be doing this," said Tim Schmitt, our Cook of the Week from Inverness.
Tim isn't entirely sure what spiked his interest in cooking within the last decade. As the oldest of seven kids he was often asked to help out in the kitchen when he was young. In high school, a stint as a short-order cook at a popular cheeseburger joint in his small town also may have set the foundation. Or, he could point to the Food Network as one source of inspiration.
"I started watching it more. I really like Ina Garten, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. I watched what they were doing and decided, 'I'm going to try that.'"
Then, about four years ago, Tim gave his wife a unique Christmas present. "I told her I would do all the grocery shopping and cook the evening meals for a year." (Is it any surprise she's asked for the same gift every year since?)
"I actually like to grocery shop. I'm kind of excessive. I have an Excel model of Mariano's that goes aisle by aisle. It's very efficient!"
Still, Tim prefers to shop the perimeter of a grocery store.
"That's where everything fresh is -- the fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat -- I walk all around and then check out; I usually don't buy the processed stuff."
If Tim seems analytical in his approach it may be because he is an analyst/accountant by trade.
"I'm a very organized person, with an MBA and CPA. When you take those skill sets and apply them to cooking, it seems to work," he laughs.
One of his favorite aspects of cooking is the timing -- something most of us have trouble with.
"What I really enjoy doing is figuring out the order of cooking -- how to do things so that everything comes out together."
Tim has a large repertoire of meals he enjoys cooking. During the holidays, he'll do a turkey, using the technique he learned from his dad. He's also not afraid to try crown pork roast, leg of lamb, or a beef Wellington using a mushroom pate. He has four favorite ways to cook fish, one of which is wrapped in parchment paper, a technique he demonstrates for us via our online video. He has a breaded pork chop recipe that he has been working to perfect for 20 years. His kid's Polish nanny used to make the dish -- he is finally satisfied with his version.
Cooking for Tim has been a breeze lately because of the redesign of his kitchen. The new kitchen appeals to Tim's logical nature.
"Everything works together. It's so functional. There are two drawers just for spices -- everything you need is within a step -- it's so efficient!"
The new kitchen even inspires him to clean as he goes while cooking -- a boon to his wife.
"Once on a day off, I went to the library and checked out a Julia Child cookbook. I spent the entire day cooking and I also dirtied every pot in the house. Since our rule was, 'if you cook you don't have to do dishes,' she told me 'don't cook!' Now I cook and clean up as I go."
Lucky, lucky woman.