Knife Skills - The Chef's Cooking School

Knife Skills

Knife Skills Class

A kitchen essential to gain knowledge on is knife skills.  You are going to view these photos and read the corresponding text.  There are multiple cuts you can do, not all of them are listed here.  The focus here is on Carrots, Onions, and Celery.  While you will be learning dicing and julienne cuts of these, remember, these techniques can be done on most vegetables.  Notably eggplant, pepper, squashes, tomatoes

Proper hand position for holding a knife

correct position for holding a knife

The index finger and the thumb seem to pinch the butt of the knife.

This allows the chef to use the blade in rocking motion on the cutting board. The knife never leaves the board.  It rolls from tip to back. Once to the back you raise the back, keeping the tip on the board and moving to next cut.

The left hand is poised with the tips of the fingers back and slightly curled. This is a safe way to hold something that you would be cutting. It keeps you're fingertips out of the way of the sharp blade.

Safely Walking with a Knife

The picture to the right shows the chef safely walking with a knife.

Here the chef is holding the point of the knife to the

ground, and the knife blade is facing, back, while the

blade is to the side of the chefs body.

safely holding a knife while you walk


planking carrots

Knife skills lessons, uniformity

Here we will show you how to begin to cut uniform sizes.

1. We have peeled a carrot and cut he ends off.

2. Then using the "knife hold" and cutting hold, you will turn your carrot into a rectangle, squaring off the sides.

3. These planks, formed after uniformly squaring your carrot, can be used to make other cuts, sticks, diced.  They also are great if you would like to grill your vegetables for grilled vegetables, making it easier to keep them from falling into the grill.


Now that you have the "planks" cut, you can square up the edges once again.

1. Stack the squared planks

2. Cut even strips, from this you will then dice, or make other cuts, however this is what you will use for a crudite tray or vegetable tray for a party.

carrot sticks


diced carrots


The hand position above shows: fingers bent and curled back while holding the product with fingers behind the blade. this is the correct position for holding a knife and should be used

Onions, peeling

To the right we will begin working with onions

1. Using a smaller knife such as a pairing knife, cut close to the root end off

2.. Then, remove the outer peel off the onion.

3. With a small knife, cut out a V shape where the root is. This will help later

peeling onion

Onions, halfing

halfing an onion

Pictured to the left is an onion that has been cut in half

1. Position the root end that you trimmed earlier either facing up or down but not on the side

2. Run your knife straight down the middle of the onion

Notice: Take note of the position of the left hand. This is a clear picture of that "product holding" position, as described in the beginning of this lesson.

Onions, preparation for further cuts

Preparing the onion for common cuts,

such as julienne, diced, minced.

1. Take 1/2 of the onion and place the flat side on your cutting board.

2. Place your "product holding" hand on top of the onion. This is a crucial step to preventing your fingers getting cut

3. Take your knife and run the blade through the center of the onion about 98% through.


onion prep

Onion, Julienne


The photo to the left shows julienne cut of an


1. Take 1/2 of the onion, lay it on the board.

2. Hold the onion with the correct "object holding" pose of the left hand.

3. From right to left or left to right if you are left handed begin slicing in 1/8 inch increments from the stem end to the sprout end.

Onion, preparing for dicing

The image to the right shows a step in preparing to dice an onion.

1. Take 1/2 of the onion, lay it on the board.

2. Place your "product holding" hand on top of the onion.

3. Take your knife and run the blade through the center of the onion about 98% through the onion

4. Follow Step 3 from the julienne steps.

5. It is important for dicing that you keep all of these cuts together until you dice them, that is why above you only cut 98% of the way through the onion


Dicing an Onion

dicing onion

Here we have the combination of all of these steps we have used with the onion so far.

1. We have cut the onion in half, cut 98% through the middle horizontally and then down through in 1/8 inch slices that are still attached because you only cut it through 98%.

2. Now we will turn the onion 90 degrees so that you're product holding hand holds the uncut 2%, as shown.

3. Notice in the picture how the french knifes tip is touching the cutting board.

4. You can then rock the blade, slowly yet precisely through your onion making it the size you need.


Here to the right we will start working with celery


1. Take your washed rib of celery and lay it on the cutting board.

2. Split the celery down the middle in even half's.

3. Split each half in half making 4 even celery lengths

celery into lengths

Celery, Dicing

diced celery

Shown to the left here is the celery lengths that have been lined up side by side.

1. Now you will move your "product holding hand" up the celery lengths towards the end you will be cutting.

2. Line the blade of your knife about 1/4 inch from the end, or whatever size you want, and place the tip on the board.

3. Now rock the blade cutting the desired thickness, and slide your "product holding hand" as needed away from the cut and towards the uncut lengths.