40×40 List #36: Take a Knife Skills Class

Last Wednesday, I spent the evening with my friend Ben attending a Knife Skills Class. We drove to North Scottsdale to the Sur La Table store and spent three hours learning how to properly use a knife in the kitchen.

Chef Frank was our instructor and he was quite thorough. We spent about 30 minutes discussing how to choose a knife, how to sharpen it, and what sorts of cutting surfaces were best.


Then it was time to get into the kitchen and learn how to chop, dice, mince, and supreme!


We each had our own workstation equipped with a Chef’s knife and a Paring Knife. There were trays of vegetables and cutting boards for each student. We used a dough scraper to pick up the chopped bits of veg and there was a damp cloth for wiping our stations between vegetables.


We started with easy vegetables first, the bell pepper, and Chef Frank taught us how to make a cut to stabilize the food item before cutting into it. We also learned the proper way to hold a knife (really close to the base) and how to get that rhythmic motion going to create uniform pieces. You can see Ben holding his knife above.


This is my pepper after I julienned it.

Next we moved on to onions. I was most excited for this since I use onions all the time. Here I am making cross slices in the onion before making vertical slices and dicing it.

Everything was going great. We learned how to supreme an orange to get each of the segments out of the membrane and Chef Frank showed us a cool trick for getting fresh herbs off the stem (run a fork through the bunch!) and then how to mince them.

And then it happened. The knife slipped and Ben cut his finger.

Poor guy. Nothing a little band-aid couldn’t fix.

Once we were finished mincing, dicing, and slicing, we had a 10-minute break to do a little shopping (10% discount for taking the class! Woot!). When we returned to the classroom, our vegetables had been turned into a vegetable frittata. We snacked on that while Chef Frank showed us how to take a whole chicken and cut it into pieces. It was so fast! Amazing how a good, sharp knife makes all the difference. I am really glad I took the class and even though I didn’t come out of it a knife whiz, I have the basics down. I know that practice makes perfect. And, well, this sign sums it up perfectly…

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