Tips for looking like a pro in the kitchen (even if you're not)

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Learn to Make Geoffrey Zakarian's Chicken Paillard

We're the chef of our own lives, but sometimes these chefs have a lot to learn. That's why we turn to the experts like Geoffrey Zakaraian for tips on how to fake it 'til you make it. His new show, Cooks vs. Cons on Food Network pits home cooks against professional chefs in the ultimate culinary battle.

So how can you look like a professional at home and totally impress your guests? Just follow these 5 simple tips from Zakaraian himself.

1) Keep It Clean
I learned a valuable lesson early on in life. "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." So when you are in the kitchen, suit up in a crisp clean chefs jacket or apron and try your best not to get it dirty. I like to wear a shirt and tie under my chef's jacket as it gives a very polished look, and although I am a pro, it certainly helps me look like one too. When I was training in France, it was unheard of to find yourself dirty with food on your clothes when cooking. So keep your work station and your clothes clean!

2) Mise En Place
When cooking, do all of your prep work well ahead of time. Have each individual ingredient cut, and measured to the spec. This will not only let you look like e pro, but keep you extremely organized and efficient when you are putting everything together.

3) Sharp Knives
A big mistake that people make is not keeping their knives sharp. Find a professional metal sharpener near you and take each and everyone of you blades to the shop once per year. Dull knives cause more cuts than sharp knives because they slip and require more force when using.

4) Room Temperature
Get proteins to room temperature before cooking. They will grill or cook much more evenly throughout than if you begin the cooking process with it cold. Take your steaks or whole chicken out of the fridge about an hour ahead. The same holds true for eggs when baking. Pull them out about 30 minutes to an hour ahead and notice how they incorporate into batters more evenly and more quickly.

5) Use a Toaster Oven
I always keep one of these around. It is an easy to use tool to bake, roast or hold something at a warm temperature. The beauty of this is that you can power it up quickly, and it uses far less electricity or gas than pre-heating the entire oven. It also helps tremendously in the morning when making toast because you can make several pieces at one time, instead of just 2 with a traditional toaster.

Cooks vs. Cons airs on Food Network Thursdays at 9/8c.

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