Can't Cut Straight (Need Help)

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by passionforcooki, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. passionforcooki

    passionforcooki

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    Culinary Student
    Hey everyone,

    I've been a big fan of ChefTalk for a while now, but mostly just read the posts. However, I come to you all with a dilemma.

    I recently enrolled in a culinary arts course with a school in NYC. I have the passion for it and have been cooking for a while, but my knife skills are just not up to par. Particularly with medium dicing potatoes.

    Long story short, every time I try to cut into a potato to make the starting rectangular block, I end up either cutting the sides at a 10° angle left or right. I have little issue getting the dimensions right on the final cuts, but my shapes are all off as a result - these aren't perfect squares, at best they are rhombuses.

    I asked my teacher for help, but he just said "I don't know. There's no trick to cutting straight. Just cut straight." Obviously, not the guidance I was hoping for.

    So I turn to you guys. I've been practicing 10 hours a week and my cuts are still rough. My blade is sharp as can be, but somehow I always end up with an angle - even when I line up the blade and food perpendicular to the cutting board.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep a level cut on both a high cut and low cut? I'd really appreciate any advice given to correcting my cuts.

    Thanks.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    What's your knife?  It could be thick for the task taking you off course.
     
  3. passionforcooki

    passionforcooki

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    It's a Wusthof Chef's knife, 9". I've seen a few people in the class attempt the cuts with the santoku, but my attempts with that have been equally as error-filled.
     
  4. cschley

    cschley

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    The first thing to check is your grip. It's something that you might want to discuss with your professor.

    It's also possible that your knife isn't the best fit for you. Only thing to recommend here is to find someplace that will let you try out the knifes before you buy them,

    If you can keep the tip of the knife on the board, that should help as well.

    I hope this is useful.
     
  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    As well as trying different knives, take a detailed, analytical approach to what you do when handling the knife. Cut as if you are in a slow motion video. How does your grip change as you cut? Is your wrist twisting slightly? Does the pressure of your fingers change in some way? Are you holding your other hand in the correct position to enable you to guide the knife in the right way? Is your grip too loose or too tight? Does your grip lessen or increase as the knife travels downward? 

    You might actually have someone make a video of your hands as you work so you can rewind and watch yourself. Close observation of what happens should reveal what you are doing wrong. When I first started out, I found the proper technique and hand positions challenging and often had the same results you are having. It is easy to give in and adjust your hands, grip and pressure to make it easier for you to cut but at the cost of poor results. Have faith that you will eventually master the technique. Paying close attention to making sure you do the techniques slowly but correctly is vital to becoming better. Speed is not of the essence in the beginning. Buy some more potatoes and carrots, make a video and watch closely. 
     
  6. passionforcooki

    passionforcooki

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    These are all great suggestions. Thanks, everyone!