When I worked as a server after college, if I wasn't ferrying glasses of vino to guests on the floor you would likely find me back in the kitchen, leaning over the window and chatting with the cooks. Besides hearing a handful of very NSFW stories, it was here that I learned one of my greatest lessons in the kitchen — how to actually hold a knife.
Straight out breaking rule #1 (no hanging out in the back) and rule #2 (no eating delicious snacks the kitchen staff makes for you), I'd watch as the guys in the kitchen would flip omelettes with ease, use shortcuts I'd never think up, and make odd yet delightful pairings.
One day as I struggled in the prep kitchen to cut up lemons and limes for the bar, I received the quick and dirty on how to properly hold a knife. Sure I knew all about curling the fingers of my left hand so I didn't lose a fingertip, but I actually had zero idea there was a method to the grip. Pretty soon I stopped rolling my eyes and started nodding my head.
Suddently it made so much sense! Little did I know the pinch grip I had seen demonstrated by pros actually helped to give greater control over the pressure, direction, and path of the blade. While a little awkward at first, over time this new grip has become natural and a great aid in the kitchen with larger knives.
Whenever I'm rusty, I love taking a look at this great GIF tutorial on First We Feast with one of the cooks at Mission Chinese Food in New York.
This week, I realized how inept I am with smaller paring knives and finer detailed skills in the kitchen. While I am not exactly expecting cooker cutter, perfectly uniform quarter-inch diced onions (sounds painful!), it would be nice to brush up on some of these practical skills in a short course or tutorial. As of now, my method is pretty much get it as uniform as possible then chop away until it's as small as you want. Not so scientific, eh?
Do you have any knife tips, tricks, or resources to share?
More on Knife Skills
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)