How to Approach Cooking Like Making Music

Oftentimes people wonder what is the difference between a good cook and a bad cook. Good cooks sometimes describe what they do as being similar to making music. Read on and see if maybe this will also work for you!


  1. Image titled Approach Cooking Like Making Music Step 1
    Think of food ingredients as musical instruments. Each ingredient in a dish that you are preparing is an individual instrument. Some play small parts, such as some exotic spices like cardamom and cumin. Some play larger parts, such as base spices like salt and pepper. Others play supporting roles in the performance, such as annatto, a spice that is used to add color. The main component of a dish, such as fish, meat or fowl, is the principal performer. Veggies and other things around it can be thought of as the chorus that adds depth to the performance.
  2. Image titled Approach Cooking Like Making Music Step 2
    Think of yourself as the maestro, conducting the performance. If you have ever attended a classical concert, you know that before the actual performance, the musicians warm up, tune their instruments and generally make noise. Think of this as your prep time, before the concert, when you are gathering ingredients; cutting, slicing and dicing them, and so on. However, once the concert begins, you must lead the performers so that they play in the correct order, at the correct time. If you don't do a good job, you will hear noise. When you do it correctly, the result is music!
  3. Image titled Approach Cooking Like Making Music Step 3
    Add certain sounds (flavors) with certain instruments (ingredients). For example, you can think of salt as a bass drum. Black pepper could be a mandolin, oregano an Italian tenor, basil a clarinet, tomato a bassoon and rosemary a snare drum.
  4. Image titled Approach Cooking Like Making Music Step 4
    Play instruments at the right volume. The proportions of ingredients need to be balanced according to how weak or powerful they may be. Salt is a strong instrument, if you play it loudly by adding a lot of it to a dish, it will overpower everything else and will "sound" unpleasant to the senses. With some spices it is easy to understand the correct proportions, but as you experiment with new ones you may need to start by playing the instrument softly and increasing the volume a bit at a time.
  5. Image titled Approach Cooking Like Making Music Step 5
    Remember that presentation is important! A big part of the performance in a concert is the visuals. Classical orchestras do not perform in jeans and t-shirts, and they usually pick clothing in a specific color scheme. The person "hearing" your performance will taste it as much with their eyes as with their other senses. A messy plate will not be nearly as appealing as a colorful, well-presented and organized one.
  6. Image titled Approach Cooking Like Making Music Step 6
    Enjoy the music! In the end, cooking is very much like music, because the preparation for the concert usually takes much longer than the actual performance. However, it is the performance that should leave enjoyable memories in the mind of the person hearing it. Enjoy the food, and next time, try playing the music a little differently. Once in a while, don't be afraid to pick up a different score and play something entirely different!


  • Make a written list of ingredients you have associated with musical instruments, and don't be afraid to change it as you see fit.

  • Get your family, significant other or friends involved. You would be surprised how many different perceptions of ingredients as music there may be in one dinner table.

  • Don't be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. Use music as your guide and let your creativity and imagination flow!

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