Cooking Types

I’ve started reading the copy of Cooking for Geeks I ordered from Amazon. It includes a bunch of interviews with various foodies and food-oriented geeks. The first is with one Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University who studies people’s interactions with food.

He says at least 80% of cooks can be described in one of these five categories:

  • Giving cooks: See food as an extension of love. They tend to make great bakers, stick to trusted traditional recipes, and everyone loves their home-style cooking.
  • Healthy cooks: Cook because eating pre-prepared food isn’t as healthy. Tend to use lots of fresh produce and seafood, may have their own vegetable garden.
  • Methodical cooks: Can cook anything, but will do so with a recipe in front of them the whole time. And when they’re finished, the result will look exactly like it does in the cookbook.
  • Innovative cooks: Cook by intuition. If they use a cookbook at all, it’s merely to glance at the picture, say, “I can do that,” and then go try doing it. It may not turn out right, but that’s okay, they just go, “No biggie, I’ll do it differently next time.”
  • Competitive cooks: Cook to impress. Try weird stuff in an effort to make people go, “Wow! I’ve never had anything like that before.”

As much as I dislike pigeonholing, this breakdown (and the fact that Wansink says only about 80% of cooks fall neatly into one of the categories) sounds pretty close to my experience with the cooking of myself and other people. My wife is the methodical sort. I’m always exhorting her not to bother measuring stuff – just chuck in as much as looks right – but she insists on carefully using the measuring cups and scales that I never bother with.

Interestingly, I pegged myself as an innovative type, but when I read the categories out to her she immediately said the competitive category fit me perfectly. Hmmm.

3 Responses to “Cooking Types”

  1. Erik says:

    I’m more of a cross between Giving cook and a Methodical cook. Or I don’t fit in any of these categories at all…

  2. Tah says:

    Thanks. There is one Christmas present idea down for my wife. :-)

  3. Robyn says:

    I do all of these things.

    Giving – I do love to provide people with something that is good for them and that they’ll like. It’s like doing the laundry, because I know they’ll appreciate it. I have recipes I’ve used since I was a kid , including ONE favourite cookie recipe that I know will work and that people will like so I make it again and again

    Healthy – Definitely a huge motivation. I read the label on something like barbecue sauce and go “Eww! Okay I’m making my own now.” It’s obscene what is in some of the things grocery stores call food.

    Methodical – I still have that cookie recipe out, even though I know it by heart. My mother forgot the sugar once. It didn’t occur to me that a literate person with access to a library that stocks cookbooks *couldn’t* cook anything.

    Innovative – I buy cookbooks in languages I don’t speak and look at the pictures to see if I can make that. I do substitutions for ingredients I’ve never heard of based on the first letter of the word. But I got mocked recently by a friend because I was following a recipe for a salad.

    Competitive – Sure, I want to impress people with something they’ve never seen before, and to cook like an Iron Chef. Doesn’t everyone?

    If I had to pick one I guess healthy, but I make unhealthy stuff too. But no deep frying! Or perhaps I’m in the 20%.

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