How to Stay Cool in the Kitchen: Tips from Chef Tien Ho

Sometimes cooking can’t be avoided, even when the temperature reaches triple digits. Tien Ho, Whole Foods Market culinary vice president shares his tried-and-true tips to beat the heat.

Despite our best efforts, we’ve all ended up sweating it out in the kitchen over a hot stove, or melting over the grill trying to achieve the perfect char at one point each summer. Whether your arsenal of no-cook recipes is as stale as last week’s bread, or you just can’t resist fussing over those steaks out on the grill, sometimes cooking in the summer can’t be avoided. Cue Tien Ho, global vice president of culinary & hospitality for Whole Foods Market. A veteran of famous kitchens like Momofuku in New York City for the past 15 years, Ho shares his tips on how to enjoy your favorite foods AND beat the heat this summer:●      Dress for success: In hot NYC kitchens, Ho and fellow chefs swore by rolling up their chef’s pants four to five inches above the ankle. At home that translates to wearing lightweight, comfortable clothing — nothing too tight. And if you’re wearing pants, don’t be ashamed to give them a roll or two!

●      Adjust cooking styles/ingredients: Instead of boiling a big pot of water to cook spaghetti, try two different lower heat methods. Try swapping pasta for Asian rice noodles that only require soaking in hot liquid for a few minutes -- no boil required! Or, add the spaghetti to a pot and fill with enough liquid (water or broth) to cover it -- a good rule of thumb is one cup liquid for every three ounces pasta. Bring to a boil then cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

●      When in doubt, spritz or soak: A spray mister fan can make all the difference and is an affordable, worth-while “gadget” to keep in the kitchen or by the grill. No mister? No problem. Grab a kitchen towel and soak it in cool water, then drape over your neck. When it stops cooling, just rewet it again.

●      Be prepared: Before firing up the stove or grill, make sure to have all ingredients chopped, skewered, seasoned, etc. so that you’re not fumbling with last minute steps while standing over a hot grill. Short on prep time? Don’t be afraid to buy prepared foods. Whole Foods Market offers a slew of pre-chopped vegetables, marinated meat and seafood and side dishes to make life easier. Ho points to rotisserie chicken as a great shortcut for making chicken salad. He points out that while learning to roast the perfect chicken is a skill he thinks everyone should have, summer is not the time to learn!

●      Stay hydrated: It might be obvious, but we all need a gentle reminder to keep a glass of ice water on hand to keep cool and hydrated. For Ho, having a cold beer by the grill is de rigeur, but pick your drink of choice! Bonus points for cool slices of watermelon or frozen grapes.


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