Top 50 signs of a Good Cook - How do YOU measure up?

Thursday 25 May 2017
Post in collaboration with Circulon

Would you call yourself a good cook?  A study by Circulon has revealed the top 50 indicators of culinary expertise. Can you stand the heat? Read on and find out how you measure up...

I am most definitely a home cook and not a chef by any stretch of the imagination. If pushed I'd probably go as far to say that I'm a good cook. Definitely not excellent and have absolutely no aspirations to appear on Masterchef or Come Dine With Me! But what actually makes someone a good cook? A poll of 2,000 people conducted by Circulon - the non stick cookware folks - has revealed the top 50 indicators of culinary expertise. How would you measure up?  
  • Researchers found just five per cent of respondents class themselves as an excellent cook, while 43 per cent say they’re good. 54 per cent are happy to try attempt an extravagant new dish when friends are coming over.
  • The average person cooks around 11 dishes on rotation. While two thirds of those polled are confident about throwing together random ingredients from their cupboard to make something delicious and 55 per cent say they are confident knowing which herbs should be used.
  • A third of people often try to replicate celebrity recipes and 22 per cent are so proficient at preparing food they don’t even weigh the ingredients, preferring to throw them in at random.
  • And when it comes to cookware, 23 per cent will always read reviews before purchase and 22 per cent take recommendations from friends and family.
  • Inspiration for cooking still comes from cookery books for 54 per cent of people, while 43 per cent regularly watch cookery programmes.
A spokesman for Circulon said: “It has been very insightful to discover what makes the average consumer tick, and what categorises them as a ‘good cook’. The rise of cookery programmes and the increased popularity of sharing food on social media has influenced Britain’s love of food and desire to cook. Carrying out this research has enabled us to fully appreciate our customers’ needs in the kitchen, whilst recognising their ability, confidence and approach to home cooking. Our findings have informed and influenced key elements in the development of future cookware ranges, with customer buying habits and usability in mind.”

Can you stand the heat or should you get out of the kitchen? Reading through the top 50 below I found out that I might not actually be as good as I think I am...


1. Can rustle up anything from scratch
I'm not sure about anything, but I'll give most things a go!

2. Loving to eat as well as cook
Yup, my waistline is testament to that.

3. Willing to experiment and try all foods and ingredients when cooking at home
Experiment is my middle name. (actually it's Louise)

4. Being happy to prepare food in front of guests
Yes, but I'll probably hand them a knife and ask them to help.

5. Always being able to whip something up when there's virtually nothing in the cupboard
I regularly have 'Old Mother Hubbard' situations, yet still manage to feed my family. Pasta is my saviour.

6. When making a roast dinner everything finishes cooking at the same time
I'm pretty proficient at this but need to work backwards on the timings and write it all down for Christmas Dinner.

7. Can identify certain herbs from appearance
Thanks to watching many episodes of Ready Steady Cook in the 90's I know the difference between Flatleaf Parsley and Coriander.

8. Can throw things together knowing that the different combinations (of various foods, herbs, spices) will go together and taste fab
Surely that's what the Food Thesaurus is for.

9. Experiments with dishes by adding a twist on classics
I'm all for a bit of experimentation and hardly ever follow recipes exactly as written.

10. Experimenting with recipes more than once a week
On a daily basis #occupationalhazard

11. Being able to laugh if things go wrong in the kitchen
If I didn't laugh I'd cry. I've had more than my fair share of culinary disasters. Check out my cloud eggs...

12. Can identify herbs and spices by the taste


13. Knowing what herbs go in each dishes

I did my Higher Food & Nutrition Coursework on Herbs and Spices (and I got an A!)

14. Can chop things really finely, safely
I'm not too bad with chopping and haven't had too many serious blue plaster incidents however I do have a tendency to burn myself.

15. Always have eggs and milk in the fridge
My eggs don't stay in the fridge (egg skelter on the worktop) Usually have emergency milk in the freezer.

16. Home-makes all condiments and sauces
Nope - I'm all for a shortcut. Does anyone really make their own Ketchup??!!

17. Owning a spice rack
No spice rack (keep them in a drawer) but do have a Masala Dabba

18. Always the one people go to for cooking tips
Again another occupational hazard

19. Knows what every utensil in the kitchen does

I would like to think so

20. Have a very well stocked pantry with all kinds of ingredients, i.e.: masala leaves, curry powder, mustard seeds, different types of oils: olive, avocado, roasted sesame seed, peanut, truffle, canola

My pantry is overflowing. Admittedly many ingredients were specifically bought for one recipe, a spoonful used, then abandoned.

21. Doesn't need Oxo to make gravy
I really have tried to get better at this after 'fessing up about my gravy sins on BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe. However a tub each of Chicken and Beef Bisto still have a place in my pantry.

22. Will offer for extra people to stay to dinner at a moment's notice
I'm pretty good at eking meals out for extra mouths.

23. Rarely eat takeaways

Does every weekend count as rarely?!

24. Knows exactly how long to cook a perfectly poached egg
My poached egg game is strong and stable.

25. Knows how to peel fruit and veggies most efficiently
I HATE peeling Butternut Squash, but using a teaspoon to peel ginger is a great life hack.

26. Knowing and practising cooking terms like: 'Al dente', broil, blanch, clarify, deglaze, flambé, gratin, etc.
Those all sound a bit Masterchef to me if truth be told.

27. Always wanting to try a new dish when eating out

Guilty as charged.

28. Being able to guess what is in a dish just from the taste
I could certainly narrow it down but not sure quite how accurate my predictions would be.

29. Never needing to use a cookbook
I have an embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks which I use regularly, but I'm equally happy to wing it sans recipe.

30. Always the designated cook for large family gatherings
Not necessarily. Many cooks make light work.

31. Know when a cake is done without having to stick a cocktail stick in it a hundred times
Nope. I'm a prodder.

32. Knowing measurements without having to actually measure
I can manage a reasonable guesstimate for most things but always weigh/measure for baking and with rice/pasta to avoid cooking enough to feed the 5000

33. Owns good quality cook-ware
Not sure about good quality but I do own a LOT. It's probably my favourite thing to shop for.

34. Writes a detailed list for the food shop
I'm a wee bit addicted to lists in general (and notebooks to write them in).

35. Knowing which wine to pair with certain meat or fish
Nope. I choose my wine by how pretty the label/bottle is. Doesn't everyone?
(I may have recently chosen a wine as it had the same name as my daughter...)

36. Owning a full set of herbs/spices
I do have rather a lot. Especially since I discovered how much better and cheaper they are to buy in bulk in Asian grocery stores.

37. Enjoying a messy kitchen
Nope. I like to work in a clean and tidy kitchen.

38. Don't need a timer
A timer is absolutely vital. Without it everything would be burnt! Even then I sometimes forget to actually set it...

39. Understanding what all the symbols on the oven mean
Need my teenage son to help with this one.

40. Can chop an onion in seconds
Not quite seconds, but I still use the tried and tested method that I learnt in my Food and Nutrition classes at school.

41. Being able to cook steaks perfectly using the thumb technique.
Nope. I need my Thermapen.

42. Can always add in just the right amount
I need to remember that less is more. Especially when it comes to saffron and food colouring.

43. Knowing what 'Bain Marie' is and having the perfect pans for it
Know what it is but no perfect pans.

44. Knowing the correct pronunciation of unusual or exotic foods.
I still struggle with Quinoa.

45. Knowing which wine to drink with meat
Red for red meat, White for chicken/fish. Is it more complex than that?!

46. Can flip a pancake perfectly
Yup! I'm pretty handy come Shrove Tuesday. Was well trained in this particular skill at Brownies.

47. Knows how to prepare celeriac
I HATE celeriac.

48. Mum goes round for Sunday dinner rather than the other way round
Might be the case if she lived closer.

49. Always reads food magazines
My collection of food magazines is even larger than my collection of cookbooks. Give me Good Food over Cosmopolitan any day of the week.

50. Owns set of fancy knives
Only recently when my sister chastised me for my poor knife collection and bought me good ones for Christmas.

.....So how do YOU measure up? Let me know in the comments! Would you call yourself a good cook?  A study by Circulon has revealed the top 50 indicators of culinary expertise. Can you stand the heat? Read on and find out how you measure up...

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Circulon. As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to only ever bring you the cream of the crop.


  1. Hey I'm not doing too bad! That was fun!

    1. Are you not going to 'fess up to any of your own shortcomings?!

  2. Great points, I love your answers and agree a timer is essential in my kitchen too!

    1. Yeah I really didn't get that one! I reckon using a timer makes you a good cook.

  3. Wow! I don't think I do too badly, but who Does make their own Ketchup? ;-) GG

  4. Well, I got just about all of them right! So I am feeling chuffed with myself! Great fun, Karen

  5. Well you've got me thinking about few things heheh GREAT post. I'm not that bad, but obviously I have a lot to learn ;)

    1. I can't believe that anyone would get all 50 surely?

  6. Haha I love the cloud eggs photo. I am seeing these everywhere at the moment, so it's good to see that not everyone is successful with them.

    1. Yup they were definitely a #pinterestfail

  7. I won't consider myself a good cook yet. I can't chop an onion in seconds, ha!

  8. Ha ha, loved your answers and so pleased to know I'm not the only one with jars of Bisto gravy in the cupboard. I can make but I can't always be bothered. You are definitely a good cook and a fun one too.

    1. Thank you Janice, and for your confession to being a fellow user of gravy granules We must stick together!

  9. Replies
    1. It was really fun to answer truthfully and share with you

  10. What a fun post! Loved seeing how I did :)

  11. what a fun thing to think about - I am pretty good as most things on this last rang true for me

    1. Definitely 'food for thought' so to speak!


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