Taste as You Go
Credit: Robin O'Neill Photography

Mays says that starting with a comfortable protein and recognizable set of spices instills a focus and familiarity: "Once you have confidence, then you can get adventurous." The spices can be mixed by the eighth, quarter, half, or whole teaspoon at a time, with pinches of rub tasted along the way to find the right balance. "As you taste, you're training your palate,” he says. "It's what a chef does." He recommends doing so frequently and trying individual ingredients to jog your memory about both their taste and their potency.