On her Cooking Channel show, “Kelsey’s Essentials” (Sat., 2 p.m.), Cordon Bleu-trained chef Kelsey Nixon takes the mystery out of braising, roasting and other kitchen techniques. The Brooklyn-based pro — who also appeared on “Food Network Star” — just came out with a cookbook, “Kitchen Confidence” ($20, Clarkson Potter), as easy and breezy as her sunny personality.
Why should everyone learn to cook?
If you make a meal and serve it to someone you care about, how can you not enjoy that? It’s a very heart-warming experience.
What keeps some people from heading into the kitchen?
Maybe it’s time? It does take an investment of time to learn how to cook. But it’s time well-spent.
What turns someone who is afraid of cooking into a confident cook?
It’s not any one breakthrough — I think it’s about practice making perfect. The more you cook, the better you get. Cooking is really all about following directions and arming yourself with some essential tools.
What tools are essential to get starting cooking?
Invest in a great chef’s knife, one that’s sharp and works well. It’s the most valuable thing in the kitchen. A dull knife is a nightmare.
Can you suggest some easy techniques for newbies?
Roasting is something that I think is fabulous. All you have to do is put stuff in the pan, and the oven does all the work. And stir-frying is another great option. All you need is to understand the basics — use high heat and a little fat.
Do you have any favorite dinner shortcuts?
Almost every week, I buy a rotisserie chicken, and I use it throughout the week. It can go into soups and stews or be used to top a salad. I believe in any shortcut that puts a real meal on your table instead of Chinese takeout!
Who is your favorite cookbook author?
I am a fan of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. I admire the way she writes books that are foolproof.
There are people who follow recipes, and people who balk at them. Why is that?
I wonder if it has to do with right-brain, left-brain stuff? One thing I tried in the book was to provide variations, options to add ingredients. That way people who want to be guided are, and people who want to change things up are OK too.
What if, after following a recipe and trying hard, you fail in the kitchen?
The first thing I do is order pizza! And next time, maybe think about making something you love and are familiar with. Having that extra interest can really motivate you.