Recently, I decided to sign up for a cooking class. Instead of going for the trendier option of pasta making or surf and turf, I opted for the very practical “Knife Skills 101” class. As someone who is generally teaching themselves on the trial and error model, I thought knife skills would be one area where it would be useful to have a professional on hand. Full disclosure: my knives are colorful and from Walmart. Anyone in the class who had nice knives seemed to have received them from their wedding registry. This is not currently in the cards for me so I may start saving or start some sort of crowd funding campaign.
For those of us not lucky enough to have been gifted immaculate sets of German steel by our relatives, the professionals at Institute of Culinary Education recommend starting out with a smaller set and not just buying the biggest block of knives you see at BBB. Here is what they said was necessary:
I know I wasn't able to mince like an Iron Chef but I also didn't think my entire approach to cutting an onion was wrong. These are the mistakes they pointed out and this is what I had been doing my entire culinary career:
1. The smallest knife (called a paring knife) shouldn’t be your go to
2. You don’t hold a knife like you hold a tennis racquet- I was gripping it all around the handle and that is very wrong
3. Your finger nails on your non dominant hand should never show. Curve your hand like a bear claw when pushing the food towards the knife.
4. Don’t start slicing vegetables the way they are- make extra cuts so the food sits flat. (i.e. chop the bottom off the onion so it doesn’t roll)
I know Knife Skills doesn’t sound like the sexiest cooking course in the directory but I do recommend taking one. It will speed up your prep time, make your dishes look more professional, and if you do ever get knives, you’ll know how to take care of them. Also being able to cut your garlic like Bobby Flay will impress girls.