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Secrets of the TAFE NSW masterchefs (or why butter, salt and sugar are your best friends in the kitchen)

TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga

Secrets of the TAFE NSW masterchefs (or why butter, salt and sugar are your best friends in the kitchen)

FLAVOUR FRIEND: TAFE NSW cookery guru Sara Morley says a few simple tips, like adding butter to sweet and savoury dishes, can transform your food from fair to fantastic.

The COVID pandemic may have upended the way we live and forced many of us into “home detention”, but it’s also provided a perfect opportunity to sharpen our kitchen skills.

And as TAFE NSW cookery guru Sara Morley told ABC Riverina breakfast announcer Sally Bryant on their regular TAFE Buds segment this morning, there are a few time-tested tips to help you take your home cooking to the next level.

1. Is local, is seasonal, is good

“This is my mantra, my obsession,” Ms Morley said.

“If you want something to taste fabulous, buy locally and in-season.

“You’d be astounded at the difference between in-season, fresh asparagus grown in the Riverina and imported asparagus that might have been grown months agp.”

2. The Five “Ps” – Prior preparation prevents poor performance

“From my years of teaching at TAFE NSW and running my own restaurant, one of the main things that separates a chef from a home cook is preparation,” Ms Morley said.

“If you have all the bits in their place, you will end up with a better meal – it’s that simple.

“Think about if you’re cooking a stir fry, for example, and you have the meat sizzling away and then you decide to start peeling the carrot. It just won’t work.”

3. Just add butter. And salt. And sugar.

“Nothing is lost by adding butter to just about anything,” Ms Morley said.

“Butter not only adds incredible flavour to everything it touches, it has special properties that are key to the integrity of many classic sweet and savoury dishes.

“And remember, salt is there to bring out the natural flavours of food; adding it at the right time is critical.

“Don’t forget sugar is a seasoning as well. A bit of sugar in your Bolognese will really bring out the flavour of the beef.

4. The pointy end of the business – why crack knives matter

“It’s worth spending the money on good knives and if you look after them, they’ll last you a lifetime,” Ms Morley said.

“You really only need three knives: a small paring knife, a medium utility knife, and a large chef’s knife.

“You could also add a serated edge knife to that for things that are hard on the outside and soft on the inside, like bread and tomatoes.”

5. Panning for gold

“The temperature and quality of your pan can make all the difference,” Ms Morley said.

“A pan with a nice, thick base holds its heat in the bottom and creates that amazing caramelisation effect.

“And remember, don’t oil your pan, oil the food and put it in the pan.”


If you’d like a career in food, TAFE NSW offers a range of courses to help get you into the job of your dreams – visit or call 131 601.