visit us on
Sharpening Our Knife Skills

With a lot of holiday cooking on the horizon, we asked a couple local pros for essential knife tips to make each slice and dice more efficient

|
PHOTOGRAPHY by
|
November 19, 2020
SHARE
Leucadia Custom Knives

If you are no stranger to the kitchen, then you’re likely cutting produce and protein on a regular basis. If cooking more is on your list of things to do, learning some of these knife basics will be essential. I recently noticed I often cut onions and tomatoes one way, then use a completely different tactic the next day. This inspired me to hone in on my own knife skills and become more efficient and confident in the kitchen. Let’s all increase our skills base together. 

Practice These 5 Cuts

Whether it be a chef-led online cooking class or Google, take some time to properly learn a couple common knife cuts. Grab some tomatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots and get to work! 

  1. Slicing
  2. Dicing
  3. Chopping
  4. Mincing
  5. Julienning 

Basic Knife Skills

We asked Tori Sellon of Bon Vivant Cooking School and Edible San Diego business member for her top tips for using knives in the kitchen. She starts each class with a focus on basic knife skills. 


Use A Knife Steel 

The fine edge of a blade tends to fold and lose its sharpness. A steel refines your edge. It’s inexpensive and easy for anyone to use in your kitchen. 


Get A Decent Chef’s Knife 

There are all levels of “good” out there, but even some Ikea knives work well enough at an inexpensive price point. Personally, I love my Shun Japanese chef’s knife. Most home cooks need at least one chef’s knife that is kept sharp. 


Do Not Scrape Your Blade

Scraping your blade against the cutting board ruins your sharp knife. If you must scrape something, use the back of the blade. 


Hold Your Knife Correctly 

The knife is meant to be held with your thumb and index finger supporting the blade. Holding farther back on the handle or using the pointer finger to support the blade makes for an unstable grip. Holding the knife by the choke yields more control. You can move faster with less risk of cutting yourself. 

Credit: iStock.com/TheMalni

Create Flat Edges 

Produce tends to roll around so create a flat edge by trimming a bit with you knife so you then have a stable surface to cut. 


Cut In Uniform Pieces

Making all the pieces roughly the same size helps ensure they cook in a similar fashion (some chunks overdone or underdone). Plus, this kind of uniformity will please the eye!


Working With Kids and Knives

I’m a big believer in getting kids in the kitchen, and that includes teaching knife safety. When my daughter was very young, I used something called a sandwich knife. It cuts through veggies and things but there is low risk of injury because it has a plastic blade. By the time she was five, we got her a mini chef’s knife, and I explained how to use it. I give her the same tips as my adult students. Hold the knife correctly, use the claw, and always pay attention. I supervise closely so I can correct her movements. She’s now almost nine and is a pretty good sous chef. 

Create Flat Edges 

Produce tends to roll around so create a flat edge by trimming a bit with you knife so you then have a stable surface to cut. 


Cut In Uniform Pieces

Making all the pieces roughly the same size helps ensure they cook in a similar fashion (some chunks overdone or underdone). Plus, this kind of uniformity will please the eye!


Working With Kids and Knives

I’m a big believer in getting kids in the kitchen, and that includes teaching knife safety. When my daughter was very young, I used something called a sandwich knife. It cuts through veggies and things but there is low risk of injury because it has a plastic blade. By the time she was five, we got her a mini chef’s knife, and I explained how to use it. I give her the same tips as my adult students. Hold the knife correctly, use the claw, and always pay attention. I supervise closely so I can correct her movements. She’s now almost nine and is a pretty good sous chef. 

Credit: iStock.com/burnorbs
Credit: Tori Sellon with Bon Vivant Cooking School

Consider a custom knife

We reached out to Scott Wing of Leucadia Custom Knives to understand the process of ordering a custom knife. 


Ordering A Custom Knife

Creating a truly custom knife ideally begins with a conversation and a few questions: 

  • What knives do you already have that you like, or don’t like?
  • What types of food do you most often prepare?
  • Do you tend to be careful with your knives, or do you prefer to use them hard?
Credit: Leucadia Custom Knives

Questions like these help me determine size, thickness, weight, steep type, handle material and other details that go into a custom culinary knife. I order materials to match what I think the person will be happy with. For example, the difference in just half a millimeter of thickness at the spine, or a few thousandths of an inch at the edge, makes the knife feel and perform in a completely different way. The communication is key to the customization process. 


Why Buy A Custom Knife 

The attention to detail that a custom knifemaker gives to each knife is so far above what you can get from a vast array of different steels, blade hardness, handle materials that all add up to making this knife truly one-of-a-kind and your own. The materials in a custom knife will be of higher quality than factory knives, and with proper care, should last a lifetime or longer. You know where the knife was made, who made it, even how they made it if you want. Most custom makers will even be glad to spend work-in-progress pictures to document the process. At the end, when you receive your new knife, you can be sure that no one else in the world has this exact knife, and that it was made by hand, possibly just down the road from where you live, just for you. 


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Related Stories
Related Recipes
No items found.