December 5, 2016

5 Knife Skills Every Chef Must Have!

knife skills mandolin

Bonus: Consider a mandolin

Making perfect precision knife cuts, such as the long, rectangular julienne, is a laborious task that requires patience and good hand-eye coordination. If you’d like an alternative, try a mandolin, a hand tool with a blade that will slice vegetables into varying widths, and teeth that crosscut the slices into juliennes in the same pass. All you need to do is peel, trim, and cut the vegetable to length. The goal when making precision cuts is consistency, so it’s fine if your juliennes are not exactly 1/8 inch as long as they’re uniform. Just remember the chef’s mantra, “If it looks the same, it cooks the same.”

Knife skills are among the most important skills a cook learns. Good ones can save you time (by making you more efficient) and money (by reducing waste and enabling you to use less-expensive whole products rather than pricier prepared items). On the flip side, poor knife skills can put your fingers at risk!

By David Kamen ’88, manager of consulting projects for CIA Consulting, is a certified executive chef, ProChef Level III certified, and a proud alumnus of the college.