You only need to know a few basic principles — 20, to be exact — to master the kitchen. That’s the cooking philosophy driving Cleveland native Michael Ruhlman, who’s written more than 25 books, including his most recent release From Scratch.
In October, Ruhlman launched a new podcast by the same name, with each of the first season’s 12 episodes focusing on a simple ingredient or idea such as the importance of water.
By hosting conversations between everyday people and world-renowned chefs, such as New York-based Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Ruhlman is exploring the connection between food and the world around us. Ahead of its second season, dropping late spring, Ruhlman teases some bite-sized takeaways.
What is the format of your new podcast?
We always have one chef and one non-chef. We try to make it about cooking but also show how cooking affects, impacts or is related to the world at large. [For one episode] I spoke with Thomas Keller, and we spoke with a knitter, Kay Gardiner. It really became a show about mindfulness and doing the same thing over and over again.
What do we need to remember when cooking?
While cooking does take work and planning, it is worthwhile. It’s not something we do [just] so we can do everything else. It’s an important part of our humanity. It’s how we became human — by cooking food, sharing it and telling the stories of our day.
What are some lessons you’ve learned as the host?
I learn something all the time. While I’ve been basting for most of my life, I never quite stopped to think about what that fat was actually doing to the skin and the layer of fat underneath it. It basically cooks the skin and keeps water within the skin to the point where it vaporizes and makes the skin bubble, which helps to make the skin more crispy.