embarrasing, but true

Joined Sep 14, 2002
I hate to admit this but my knife skills suck! I was happily ignorant of the fact, chopping away quickly and neatly, at various jobs, until I began school.

My little 3-D model sits there and mocks me. I can NEVER seem to get a julienne just right. Obviously, I won't have time to measure each and every batonet or matchstick. My tournes are more likely to have six sides than seven.

I only have time for an hour of practice a day, with work and classes and studying. How long does it take to become proficient?
Joined Sep 21, 2001
I had a job where I cut veggies for @ 2 hours a day, and worked that job for 3 years and when I left I had no problem with my knife skills. I used to call it 'knife drill". It made my hands strong, too. It takes some effort to cut a flat of mushrooms without getting tired. But that is history now. I don't even think about knife skills anymore. I just do it.
Joined Mar 7, 2001
It seems just like yesterday I was complaining to my chef instructor that I would never be fast at my knife skills ....he assured me that it would happen ...I asked how long he had been using a chefs knife he said 25 years ...I commented that in 25 years I would then be as good as he at knife skills ...I think it took less than 5 years to get really comfortable and notice that I was faster than when I was a student....using knife skills on the job really improves your skills .....just another experience
Joined Sep 15, 2002
I know the feeling. I asked my once a week teacher Chef Kevin Wagner how to improve my knife skills, he said pratice, then do it again, then do it again some more.:bounce: best of luck... still cutting for perfection. merwin
Joined Feb 22, 2002
I too am having problems with cutting and I don't really have practice time during class unless I happen to be making a dish that includes vegetable cuts. My tournees suck and most of my cuts come out with some pointy ends instead of squares or rectangles.
I still think everyone in a cooking school should take basics like knife cuts before being thrown into the real deal.
Joined Sep 9, 2002
the absolute worst must be turned vegetables. I mean, barrel shaped potatoes look lovely but perfect 8 sided same shaped potatoes - it's just not natural.

After completing one week's 'work based training' as part of our City and Guilds requirement I have ploughed through umpteen pumpkins, untold cabbages, carrots, courgettes, capsicums etc etc hours of cutting veges, but at least no turned veges :)

So, what is the point of teaching/learning them at chef school?????????
Joined May 26, 2001
Tradition. I'm a believer in learning the classics, to understand how to innovate from there. (although my tourné is lousy, too ;) ) Even though very few of us will ever have to tourné in real life, it is a classic cut and therefore good to know. Besides, who knows? Maybe someday we WILL decide to use it.

BTW: at NY Restaurant School, we were told 7 sides, which is even harder than 8!


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
For restaurant service you really only need to do 5 sides. Customers won't notice especially after they're cooked and sauced up. Some tips for tourne.

1) Hold the vegetable at its waist between your thumb and middle/fourth fingers. Support it at each end with your index and pinky.

2) Use one long smooth stroke. If your knife slips before you complete the cut, start again.

2a) Keep the distabce between your thumb and the blade of the knife the same distance. Don't move your wrist. In otherwords, move the knife straight toward you with a slight arc, don't try to "pull" the knife by using your thumb/finger opposing muscles.

Hrmm.. Hope I explained that properly.

3) Once you think you're done turn the vegetable 180 degrees and start from the other side and repeat the process.

4) Practice first with a straight edge paring knife.

5) Be thankful you're not fluting mushrooms. :)

Joined Nov 10, 2001
Kaliflower, there is no easy way to acquire knife skills,it just takes a lot of practice.It may seem pointless,but it does pay off.One day,when you`re a Sous Chef or higher ,you`ll have someone else doing the same.
Kuan,i know how you feel about fluting mushrooms.It has got to be one of the most mind-numbing tasks there is.I was glad to see the back of that!:crazy: Leo.
Joined Sep 14, 2002
;) My tournes are Meant to be 7 sided...Usually up to my elbows in dough at work---though I recieve very little bread for it--(old hippie joke there, ha ha) Don't get alot of practice time with my knife.
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