A Bucket List for Cooks : 50 Accomplishments For a Lifetime of Kitchen Joy

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Do you know about the bucket list, also called life list? The idea is to list all the things you would like to accomplish in life*.

It’s an amazing exercise to do — on your own, as a couple, or with friends — because it says a lot about your deep desires and ambitions. It’s important to banish all the “yes, but’s” and allow yourself to dream big, without limiting yourself to what you think is realistic or acceptable. You can keep the list somewhere on a notebook and computer, and add to it as you think of new ideas.

My personal life list includes, among other items, getting a tattoo (I have a pretty good idea of the design) (Oh, hi Mom!), speaking Japanese, going on a meditation retreat, and sleeping in an igloo. An ideal scenario would be getting a tattoo on a meditation retreat held in an igloo in Japan; I have to see if the format exists.

I love the idea so much I’ve imagines a bucket list for cooks with 50 kitchen accomplishments to aspire to. I’ve included things from easy to difficult, in terms of technique, opportunity, and organization.

You’ll find the list below. Tell us in the comments how many you’ve already accomplished, and which you would add for yourself.

To help you do this, you can download your free printable bucket list; such a fun thing to do during an evening with like-minded friends! (If you want to slip it into your bujo, print it to 65% of the original format.)

  1. Make bread from scratch.
  2. Make bread with a sourdough starter.
  3. Make something fermented.
  4. Cook dinner for as many people as there are chairs in your house.
  5. Cook dinner for more people than you have chairs in your house.
  6. Cook with ingredients you’ve grown yourself.
  7. Cook with ingredients you’ve foraged yourself.
  8. Take a cooking class.
  9. Take a cooking class in a foreign country.
  10. Have someone adopt a recipe of yours and name it after you (e.g. le gâteau de Mamy or Muriel’s chicken).
  11. Reverse-engineer a favorite dish from a restaurant.
  12. Reverse-engineer a favorite dish from a restaurant and have it turn out better than the original.
  13. Host a holiday meal.
  14. Host a holiday meal without crying at any point.
  15. Cook with a child.
  16. Cook with more than one child.
  17. Cook on a boat.
  18. Cook over an open fire.
  19. Prepare a meal entirely from pantry ingredients.
  20. Cook your way through a cookbook.
  21. Commit a cookie or cake recipe to memory so you can bake it anytime, anywhere.
  22. Attempt to recreate a dish without a key ingredient (to make it vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.).
  23. Shop at a supply store for professionals.
  24. Shop at a cookware store for professionals.
  25. Cook with your significant other without anyone snapping at anyone.
  26. Cook with your significant other, and do something silly and romantic like in the movies (e.g. feed each other spaghetti).
  27. Cook with someone old enough to be your grandmother (or grandfather).
  28. Have a complete cooking disaster.
  29. Have a complete cooking disaster and laugh about it (immediately or ten years after).
  30. Find and invest in a knife you would happily cook with for the rest of your life.
  31. Learn to make pancake or crêpe batter by feel.
  32. Make caramel.
  33. Make your own crust for a tart, a quiche, or a pie.
  34. Make a laminated dough (e.g. puff pastry).
  35. Cook something you don’t like because you love someone who does.
  36. Cook something you don’t like to see if you can learn to like it.
  37. Buy an ingredient you have absolutely no idea what to do with and actually use it.
  38. Get curious about a foreign cuisine, and learn to make a few dishes from it.
  39. Make your own ice cream (sorbet, gelato, etc.).
  40. Make by hand something most people would use a machine for (e.g. whipping egg whites, making pesto with a pestle).
  41. Make an elaborately decorated cake.
  42. Make a pastry that normal people would buy from a pastry shop (e.g. chocolate éclairs or macarons).
  43. Improvize a soup or stew from what you have on hand, and have it turn out well.
  44. Host a themed dinner party.
  45. Deep-fry something.
  46. Prepare a dish or dessert that involves a tool normally found in a hardware store (e.g. a blowtorch).
  47. Poach eggs.
  48. Make something that requires whipping egg whites to a specific consistency (a meringue, a soufflé, a mousse…).
  49. Join a club — a tasting club, a cooking club, a cookbook club — or start your own.
  50. Invite friends to dinner two hours before it’s actually dinner.

* It comes from the expression kicking the bucket, which means dying. The origin is uncertain, but it probably comes from the idea of someone hanging him/herself, and whose last accomplishment is to kick the upturned bucket on which he/she was standing. (Macabre enough for you?)

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