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Ask for a good set of knives this Christmas and you'll be well on your way to becoming a better cook – well that's what one of the world's most famous chefs, Michel Roux Jr, told us when we asked him for his top tips on becoming a master chef...
Which three skills should every cook have?
Knife skills. Having good knives is really important. Always use the right knife for the job and learn how to chop basic ingredients like onions and garlic.
Taste. Seasoning is much more than just salt and pepper, it's about understanding how to use spices to make a dish more fragrant, knowing that sweetening a dish doesn't always mean adding sugar and how to add sourness using citrus, wines and vinegars.
Planning ahead. Simple things, like balancing a menu so that it's not too rich, and getting your timings right are key when preparing a meal.
What's the one ingredient you can't live without?
Butter. I love it, but that's French cooking for you! It has to be good butter though, not the cheap stuff.
What's the most important piece of kit a home cook should have?
Good pans. It's definitely worth investing in them.
What's your guilty food pleasure?
High-cocoa-content dark chocolate.
Do you ever use shortcuts when cooking at home?
I don't mind quicker ways of doing things as long as the result is as good as the long way. I don't have a problem with using ready-made puff pastry, but I make sure it contains a high quantity of pure butter.
What's your top festive tip?
If you think you don't like sprouts, try cutting them into little leaves and lightly cooking them at the last second so they're still a bit crunchy – they won't have that bitter taste that we associate with sprouts anymore!
Michel Roux Jr is hosting exclusive cookery experiences for up to 12 people at Cactus Kitchens in Clapham, London. Book your place now!