As we all learned from Otto von Bismarck, there are some things you never want to see made, like laws and sausages. But having worked in a high-level New York trattoria for many years as a server, I can’t say the same for restaurant food. Unless you’re afraid of massive amounts of butter and salt, seeing how real chefs cook in a professional kitchen is an endlessly fascinating and eye-opening experience.

While many of the techniques employed by pros require proper training and high-tech equipment, others are simple tricks and upgrades that most home cooks could easily incorporate into their routines. Much is to be gleaned from simply watching a cook prep for a night of service, or talking to a chef about what she is most excited to prepare for a menu, or even a family meal.

Here are 10 most useful tools, tricks, and rules of thumb I’ve picked up from chefs, line cooks, and industry folks that the average home cook might not know, but should. Time to take your grub to the next level.

Written by Hannah Norwick (@HannahNorwick)