Celebrity chef Pete Evans talks kitchen safety
Pete Evans is obsessive about staying vigilant in the kitchen. The award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author says distractions are the biggest enemy of kitchen safety.
Sometimes you don’t have to venture far from home to put yourself in the path of unexpected risk. According to our survey on kitchen safety, almost 65 per cent of NSW home owners have stepped away from a hot stove to watch TV, complete chores or help the kids with their homework. The survey also found that unattended cooking is the cause of one in three NSW house fires. Pete Evans agrees that distractions can be a big risk when it comes to the kitchen.
“Accidents always happen when you allow yourself to become distracted,” Evans says. “You can easily get bumped, lose concentration and potentially hurt yourself or others around you. It all comes down to focusing on the job at hand and exercising attention to detail.”
Although Evans might consider kitchen safety religion these days, it wasn’t always this way. The co-host of Channel Seven’s popular reality TV show My Kitchen Rules says that when he started out as a teenager at catering college on the Gold Coast, he hadn’t yet grasped the importance of exercising caution in the kitchen.
“I’m much older and wiser now. Accidents hurt a lot more these days and I’m very aware of my surroundings as well as potential risks.”
Evans’ career, which has included stints as executive chef at celebrated Melbourne restaurant The Pantry and recurring appearances at food festivals across the globe, has seen him witness the dangers of kitchen negligence firsthand. The most common mistakes he’s observed include forgetting to turn the oven or stove off after cooking, failing to unplug electrical devices and using blunt knives.
But Evans says the golden rule when it comes to kitchen safety is doing everything possible to be prepared.
“If you’re prepared and organised, you can multitask. The first thing you get taught is to make sure your chopping board is flat on the bench – make sure you’re using a damp tea towel around the board to prevent slippage. The second most important lesson to learn is to never use a blunt knife. It’s so much more dangerous than a sharp knife.
“And the last thing to remember is to always be aware of your surroundings and make sure you notice what’s in the vicinity. You always have to assess all the risks, especially if you have kids in the house!”
Although Evans is excited that shows such as My Kitchen Rules have sparked a new generation of home chefs, he maintains that the same rules apply when experimenting in the kitchen.
“Don’t be afraid to try new things, but make sure you watch a demonstration online or via YouTube before taking the plunge. The internet is a great resource and a lot of those online videos include safety tips. It all comes down to focusing on the job at hand and exercising attention to detail at all times.”
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a world-class chef or simple home cook – being aware of your surroundings and any distractions are essential to avoiding accidents and maintaining safety in the kitchen. Follow the five steps below and you will be on your way to becoming a safe (and maybe even superstar) chef, like Pete:
- Make sure you never leave your cooking unattended.
- Wipe the grease and fatty build-up off the stove before cooking.
- Install a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and check it regularly.
- Keep electrical leads and tea towels a safe distance from the stove.
- Ensure that your pot handles are facing inwards at all times.