Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our cooking endeavors turn out to be absolute flops. No one likes to talk about recipe failures in the culinary world, unless they are the kind that turn out to be happy accidents, creating something new and even better. Without a doubt, every great chef has had failures along the way, and most of the rest of us have had more than a few of them. It’s amazing when it leads to the discovery of something unexpectedly awesome, but more often these failures just teach us about the laws of the cooking universe. That’s okay too! I know, I know, wasting money on ingredients and wasting the time spent creating these flops is pretty frustrating, but it’s making you a better chef! (Sure, call yourself a chef. You’re the chef of your own kitchen. Just don’t call yourself a chef in front of a professional one. They don’t like that.)
It seems like most failures fall into one of two categories: aesthetics or flavor. Aesthetic fails are often due to textural problems. These account for most of my failed experiments. Thoughtless ingredient swaps, impatience, and once in a while, conditions out of my control (like weather) are the biggest culprits.
Mmm, look at these luscious caramel cookie bars…
Oh wait, they’re actually just a pile of goo. Oops.
Charred steak on the outside, 100% raw on the inside:
Candied pecans (intended for salad) that would be better off on a sticky bun:
At the end of the day, most aesthetic fails still taste pretty decent. So what if you’re embarrassed to bring something goofy-looking to the dinner party? Most decent human beings would still appreciate something that tastes good even when it looks strange more than something sad that you picked up at the grocery store on your way over.
If your failure is in the flavor department, well, that’s another story. But you know what? It happens to all of us. It’s okay. As they say, don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn from your bad mistakes, and revel in the glory of your good ones.