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How to Cut Veggies with a Chef’s Knife

When guests arrive for a cooking class at The Cook’s Studio, one of the first things the professional chef instructor will go over is how to properly and safely hold and use an American/German standard chef’s knife, or a Japanese Santoku. Although TCS doesn’t offer a knife skills-specific class, a knife skills lesson is incorporated into every single class.

How to Hold a Chef’s Knife

When holding a chef’s knife, regardless of its style, professionals use the term, “choking up on the blade.” The thumb and index fingers actually pinch the blade while the remaining three fingers wrap around the handle. Holding a chef’s knife this way allows for greater stability, safety, precision, and even helps prevent wrist fatigue.

The Bear Claw

The positioning of the hand opposite of the hand holding the knife is just as important.TCS chef instructors teach the “bear claw” method, where you bend your finger tips in towards the palm, and make sure the thumb is tucked safely behind the other four fingers’ knuckles. This makes it nearly impossible for the knife to snag on the provided food handler’s gloves, or accidentally cut your finger.

It’s All in the Motion

When chopping vegetables, TCS chef instructors prefer to teach guests how to, “rock chop,” or use a seesawing motion that keeps the tip of the knife nearly in constant contact with the cutting board. This rocking motion helps train those new to cutting veggies to make more accurate slices and is ultimately safer than chopping in an up and down motion as seen often with a Chinese cleaver.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

If you’ve ever watched a chef cutting veggies and thought, “wow they make it look so easy!” That’s because they have practiced for hundreds, if not thousands of hours throughout their career. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to remember to take your time, master the technique slowly and with patience. With practice, you’ll pick up speed over time!

The Right Tool for the Job

Chef knives have an extremely wide range in price, but the pricier the knife doesn’t necessarily correlate to quality. A lot of chef knife brands are expensive due to ornate handles and design, but ultimately what every cook needs is a reliable sharp edge. At TCS, we choose Mercer Culinary professional chef knives. They’re affordable, durable, and hold an impeccable edge with moderate to low maintenance. Beginners and professional chefs alike find Mercer’s design to be comfortable, sturdy and sharp enough for even the toughest of tasks. Over time when you practice with the right knife for you, it’ll feel like an extension of your own hand. Just don’t put it in the dishwasher!

The Cook’s Studio is Long Island’s top recreational cooking school for date nights, private events, celebrations, and anyone who loves food, with locations in Hicksville, Huntington, and more coming soon. For more information, email or follow us on Instagram and Facebook

Create. Eat. Repeat.