Proper use of a chef’s knife requires proper technique.
Proper use of a professional kitchen knife is also as relaxing as any recreation. I <3 my chef’s knife!
Here’s how to get into the slicing zone:
1) Hold your knife correctly.
- The top of the blade (the non-cutting edge) faces the palm.
- Cradle the handle in your palm and wrap the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers around it.
- Grip the blade between your thumb and index finger, this gives you control and balance.
2) Steady the blade.
There’s no way to keep the knife from tipping from side to side if you don’t squeeze the blade between your forefinger and thumb–and a tipsy blade makes accidents more likely.
3) Size your knife to your hand.
For quite a while, I tried unsuccessfully to imitate how my chef, Ken, holds the knife. Then I figured out why I couldn’t do it–his hands are the size of country hams, and mine are, in comparison, like a thin slice of bacon. I cannot wrap my hand around, or control a 10-inch knife. That’s why I have my own chef’s knife with an 8-inch blade.
–my fingers are so tiny and pointed that I feel out-of-control when I’m handling a big knife.
4) Pay attention to your form.
Slicing is a contact sport–without good form, someone’s gonna get hurt.
- After you’ve got proper hold of the knife, make sure you get a firm grasp (literally) on whatever you’re going to be cutting.
- And speaking of body-mind connection, don’t think “chop,” think “slice.” Don’t hack at the board unless you want to whack off a finger.
(Using a chef’s knife is a mind-body sport, like Pilates–you have to think about what your body, in this case your hand, is doing).
6) Keep your fingers out of harm’s way.
Use your fingers of your holding hand like claws, curl them under–this keeps them away from the blade.
7) Rock and Roll!
- The blade tip rests on the cutting board–always!
- The cutting happens not by moving the blade up and down like a guillotine, but by rocking it: from tip to handle to tip.
- When your fore-knuckle is resting against the blade, and your fingers are curled under, there’s no physically possible way to cut your fingers. A chef’s knife is designed wider near the handle specifically to help facilitate this safe, and cool, maneuver.
After you get into the habit of holding a knife properly, you’ll groove.
Have fun with your chef’s knife. But let me remind you to please,
Concentrate on the mind-body connection–pay attention to where your fingers are whenever you’re cutting.
How do you groove?