3.1 Food preparation skills

Twelve skill groups have been integrated throughout the specification to show how the content can be taught through practical activities. These skills are not intended to be taught separately from the main content, but integrated into schemes of work. The skill groups are indicated in the subject content, using the references S1 (Skill 1), S2 (Skill 2) etc.

Students must know how and when these food preparation skills can be applied and combined to achieve specific outcomes. The choice of recipes to exemplify the skills will be at the discretion of the school or college, although some recipe suggestions have been included as suitable examples.

Skill 1: General practical skills

Food preparation skills


Weigh and measure

Accurate measurement of liquids and solids.

Prepare ingredients and equipment

Grease/oil, line, flour, evenly and with attention to finished product.

Select and adjust cooking times

Select and adjust the cooking process and length of time to suit the ingredient, for example to match the cut of meat, fish and alternatives.

Test for readiness

Use a temperature probe, knife, skewer, finger or poke test, bite, visual colour check or sound to establish whether an ingredient or recipe is ready.

Judge and modify sensory properties

  • How to taste and season during the cooking process.
  • Change the taste and aroma through the use of infusions, herbs and spices, paste, jus, reduction.
  • How to change texture and flavour, use browning (dextrinisation, caramelisation) and glazing, add crust, crisp and crumbs.
  • Presentation and food styling. Use garnishes and decorative techniques to improve the aesthetic qualities, demonstrate portioning, presenting and finishing.

Skill 2: Knife skills

Food preparation skills


Fruit and vegetables

Bridge hold, claw grip, peel, slice, dice and cut into even size pieces (ie batons, julienne).

Meat, fish or alternatives

Fillet a chicken breast, portion a chicken, remove fat and rind, fillet fish, slice evenly and accurately: raw and cooked meat and fish or alternatives (such as tofu and halloumi cheese).

Skill 3: Preparing fruit and vegetables

Food preparation skills


Preparing fruit and vegetables

Mash, shred, scissor snip, scoop, crush, grate, peel, segment, de-skin, de-seed, blanch, shape, pipe, blend, juice and prepare garnishes whilst demonstrating the technical skills of controlling enzymic browning, spoilage and preventing food poisoning (wash and dry where appropriate).

Skill 4: Use of the cooker

Food preparation skills


Using the grill

Use a range of foods, such as vegetables, meat, fish or alternatives such as halloumi, seeds and nuts; char/grill or toast.

Using the oven

Baking, roasting, casseroles and/or tagines, braising.

Skill 5: Use of equipment

Food preparation skills


Using equipment

Use of blender, food processor, mixer, pasta machine, microwave oven.

Skill 6: Cooking methods

Food preparation skills


Water based methods using the hob

Steaming, boiling and simmering; blanching; poaching.

Dry heat and fat based methods using the hob

Dry frying, shallow frying, stir frying.

Skill 7: Prepare, combine and shape

Food preparation skills


Prepare, combine and shape

Roll, wrap, skewer, mix, coat, layer meat, fish and alternatives. Shape and bind wet mixtures (such as falafels, burgers, fish cakes or meatballs) whilst demonstrating the technical skill of preventing cross contamination and handling high risk foods correctly.

Skill 8: Sauce making

Food preparation skills


Starch based

Sauce demonstrating starch gelatinisation such as: roux, all in one, blended, infused velouté or béchamel. How starch/liquid ratios affect viscosity.


Reduction sauce to show how evaporation concentrates flavour. Eg tomato pasta sauce, curry sauce, gravy, meat sauce (including meat alternatives such as mycoprotein and textured vegetable protein) to show how evaporation concentrates flavour and changes the viscosity of the sauce.


Make an emulsion sauce such as a salad dressing, demonstrating an understanding of how to stabilise an emulsion.

Skill 9: Tenderise and marinate

Food preparation skills


Tenderise and marinate
  • How acids denature protein.
  • Marinades add flavour and moisture when preparing vegetables, meat, fish and alternatives.

Skill 10: Dough

Food preparation skills


Making a dough (bread, pastry, pasta)

Use technical skills of shortening, gluten formation, fermentation (proving) for bread, pastry, pasta.

Shaping and finishing

Roll out pastry, use a pasta machine, line a flan ring, create layers (palmiers) proving and resting, glazing and finishing, such as pipe choux pastry, bread rolls, pasta, flat breads, pinwheels, pizza and calzone.

Skill 11: Raising agents

Food preparation skills


Eggs as a raising agent

Create a gas-in-liquid foam, whisking egg whites, whisked sponge.

Chemical raising agents

The use of self raising flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda.

Steam as a raising agent

Use of steam in a mixture (choux pastry, batter).

Biological raising agent

Use of yeast in breadmaking.

Skill 12: Setting mixtures

Food preparation skills


Removal of heat

Gelation: use a starch to set a mixture on chilling for layered desserts such as custard.

Use protein

Set a mixture on heating such as denatured and/or coagulated protein in eggs.