Originally Posted by landarc
Okay, a more serious answer, because I am seriously trying to pump my 'helpful post' count.
1. I take careful note of everything I do with each cook. From the spice rub to the meat selection and process. With the advent of digital photography, this became even better. When I was younger and learning to cook, I kept logs, noting process and results.
2. I read a lot about what other people do, good or bad. If what I wanted to do was learn brisket, I would read every single thread carefully, about what the person did and what they ended up with. You can learn from others success and failure.
3. I have had the chance to cook with some great cooks. That taught me a lot, about cooking and learning to cook. When I got here and read what Saiko was doing, and what Pitmaster T, then Barbefunkoramaque was doing, it was easy for me to see where I needed to improve.
4. I do NOT drink when I cook normally. I drink afterwards and make up for lost time. But, when I am running my cooker, I am about cooking.
5. Just because it isn't BBQ, doesn't mean I can't learn anything, and I listen and consider what anyone who is willing, will teach me. If Bobby Flay or Steve Raichlen wanted me to cook with them, I would be thrilled, that would go for anyone, you want to talk food with me, I am there.
6. Stick to one method at a time, find someone whose process or reputation you admire and when you can cook, cook exactly that way until you master it. Don't mix processes, which is what most folks do, because they 'like' what they hear, or because each part meets their expectations. Cook one process until you get it where you want it. I cooked BBQ for 34 years one way before I got here. I still do ribs and butts that way, as my product was good. My brisket cook is completely different from 2009, and that is because of being here. Fark chicken, I roast it at home.