Get Cookin'

Are you sick of cooking the same meals every week? We had the pleasure of stealing away a few minutes with Harlan Publick’s owner and executive chef Stephen Lewandowski to discuss some easy tips and tricks home chefs can do to heat up the kitchen.

But before we get into the meat of the topic, let me introduce you to Chef Lewandowski. After working as executive chef at Tribeca Grill in New York for over 10 years, Lewandowski opened his first restaurant, Harlan Social, located in Stamford in 2012. Two years later, the experienced chef opened Harlan Publick, which features high quality, creative comfort food and a wide offering of beverages, in the heart of South Norwalk.

Now to the part you’ve been waiting for. Whether you're a ninja in the kitchen or you’re just starting out, these tips can help you spend less time slaving over a stove and more time enjoying your meals. Channel your inner chef with these tips from executive chef Stephen Lewandowski:

  1. Don’t forget to season: “One mistake I always notice with home cooks is they never season enough. They are always afraid to season with salt and pepper,” said Lewandowski. Expert chefs agree that you must season to taste. To ensure your dish isn’t too salty start by adding about half of the salt you think a dish will need or half a teaspoon at a time. 
  2. Let your pan heat up: “When sautéing something home cooks make the mistake of not let the pan get hot enough before they put the item they are cooking into it, which ends up making that item absorb all the fat in the pan and it doesn’t develop flavor from the sear,” said Lewandowski. Before sautéing be sure to warm the pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes.
  3. Start with great product: Lewandowski prides himself on providing the freshest local ingredients available in his restaurants. When cooking at home, try using locally grown foods, as crops are picked at their peak of ripeness versus being harvested early, making them full of flavor and nutrients.
  4. Be prepared: “Lay out the plan before you start to cook. A lot of times you start to cook and then realize you forgot something or you’re missing a pan. So what you start cooking first tends to be put on hold while you deal with what is missing, which makes that product inferior because it has been left waiting,” warns Lewandowski.
  5. Get organized: If you’re cooking for a large group with multiple items being served, Lewandowski suggests laying out your serving vessels and labeling them. “This will make everything move faster and it also allows you to spend more time with your guests because you are organized.”

Looking for more expert tips from local chefs? Below is a list of cooking classes in your area.

  • Culinary Works: 189 Elm Street New Canaan, CT 06840 p: 203-966-2528
  • BL Kitchen @ Elm Restaurant: 73 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT  06840  p: 203.920.4994
  • Aux Délices: 25 Old King's Highway North Goodwives Shopping Center Darien, CT p: 203.662.1136
  • Rhubarb Kitchen: 262 Noroton Ave, Darien, CT 06820 p: (917) 817-8937
  • Wave Hill Breads: 30 High St, Norwalk, CT 06851 p: (203) 762-9595
  • Sugar and Olives: 21 1/2 Lois St, Norwalk, CT 06851 p: (203) 454-3663


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