be a chef’s knife ninja in 3 steps

7 Mar

Back in DC there’s this totally awesome cooking store called Hill’s Kitchen, where I took an intro knife skills skillz class. Guys, I had no idea I could do so many things wrong with something as seemingly simple as chopping stuff. Have no fear, however; if you’re in the same boat, here are my three must-know tips from the class on how to be a better cutter:

1. Get a grip. So turns out there’s actually a proper form to cutting, y’all! Grip the (chef’s) knife just above/in front of the handle, stand up straight and put your feet hip-width apart. I think this is to make you pay attention so you focus on cutting the food, and not your fingers. Which I support.

proper chef's knife grip

cue psycho soundtrack

2. Off with ‘is ‘ead! And feet! The first three chops to everything (disclosure: I haven’t actually tried cutting everything) are to nip off the ends and then do a cut down the length so that the food can lie flat on the cutting board, like so:

chopped eggplant

and thus ended the dynasty of King Eggplant IV

3. The magic’s in the motion, baby. When you think of cutting, you hear “CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!” and picture an up/down, up/down, up/down motion in your head. But really the noise you should hear when you cut is a smooth “swish, swish” and the motion of each cut should be more of a rocking backward then forward and through the food, with the tip of your knife never leaving the cutting board. Here, take a look:

That’s it! Now you can chop with the best of ’em. Here are a couple additional resources from with more info. Happy cutting!

The Anatomy of a Chef’s Knife

How to Use a Chef’s Knife


6 Responses to “be a chef’s knife ninja in 3 steps”

  1. Amanda March 7, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Awesome!! I am jealous you got to take a knife skills class–and these helpful hints were awesome! Now you just need to tell me how you chopped the onion without crying…

    • Gina Welker March 7, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      the class was definitely worth it. there is a gordon ramsay video on the youtubes where he shows you how to chop an onion ( — he says to be sure to keep the root in tact, because it’s when you cut through the root that the onion emits its evil tear juices.

      that probably makes more sense when you can see it in the video… i’ve tried it and it seems to help a bit. :)

  2. Mama March 8, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    I’ve been cooking for 47 years and have yet to master those knife skills. Looks like you’ll need to give your Mama some lessons next time we’re together. I’m looking forward to it!

    • Gina Welker March 10, 2012 at 7:44 am #

      no problem, mama bear! whatcha wanna make?

  3. Magneto March 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Great post, but please limit your knife skillz to the kitchen!

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