The Most Important Cooking Lessons Chef Andre Rush Learned In The Army

Andre Rush knows a few things about being under pressure. With an impressive background including being a combat veteran, professional chef, and cooking show host, he has cooked for four U.S. presidents and worked with Gordon Ramsay. Those accomplishments would not have been possible without his time as a military chef, learning to cook under difficult conditions. He told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview that teamwork, structure, and order are what ease his load, along with staying calm and not rushing.

The military is renowned for its emphasis on team structure, a lesson that significantly impacted chef Rush's journey. He notes, "You'll be surprised how much easier things [are] when you have structure in your life." It's no coincidence that the military's organized approach serves as the foundation for the brigade system commonly found in kitchen staff. This method of working fosters collaboration and shared responsibilities, making it possible to get things done very efficiently in the kitchen.

Organize, organize, organize

All chefs emphasize the importance of mise-en-place, Andre Rush included. Having all the ingredients you need on hand, measured, and prepared allows you to cook a recipe successfully with less stress and more accuracy. Having ingredients in order is just one aspect of kitchen organization. Rush also emphasizes the importance of cleaning up while cooking, avoiding the creation of a mess that would need to be addressed later, an approach that contributes to an efficient culinary process.

However, Rush also says not to panic if things don't go as planned. Having order in the kitchen means you can just try again. "I tell my guys, 'If I'm not stressing, don't you stress,' and I never stress." That might seem easy for a guy who has been in command of hand-to-hand battle training and cooked under challenging field conditions, transforming basic ingredients into exceptional meals. But chef Rush has a passion to pass on what he's learned, so take these hard-won lessons to heart. They may not win you a shelf full of medals like his, but they are guaranteed to make you a better cook.