learning knife skills

Last week, I wrote this about using a chef’s knife in the kitchen:

“When we were cooking the Dog Mountain Farm dinner, I was lost for a few moments in the rhythm of my knife on the plastic cutting board as I chopped herbs fine. Something made me listen to it, step outside of myself as my sharp knife divided the rosemary in half, then half again. It sounded good. It sounded right. The tip of my knife stayed on the board as the blade moved from right to left, like a lawnmower through tall green grass. I haven’t noticed, in months and months, just how evenly I cut something now. Chopping is meditation, getting a job done. Now that I have the confidence of hours of doing this the right way in my hands, I don’t have to think. I can simply step up to the counter and enjoy.”

Many of you wrote me to ask — how did you get there?

Well, I watched Danny and I practiced. (Also, I’m still not that good, just more sure.)

Since many of you have asked recently, and before this too, we did a video of Danny demonstrating how to use a knife well.

This is the first part in a video series on knife skills.

Watch and practice, if you don’t already feel comfortable with a knife in the kitchen.

20 comments on “learning knife skills

  1. Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing your knife skills! The shirt with the bloody hand print was a nice touch (hee hee). I'm a reader from NECI-land in VT…

  2. thenewstead6

    Love this! Love Lu taking away the carrot to eat 🙂 Danny is so true about the dangers of blunt knives – however having cut with blunt knives for years I recently switched to some serious (Pampered Chef) cool knives and other cutting implements – and didn't change my cutting technique to take account of that! So far I have cut, sliced, gouged myself with every one of them the first time of using them!

  3. Best Wishes, Marie

    it is amazing how "mindful" certain tasks can be. things that we often breeze through and do not even acknowledge.

    i read an article a few years ago about "eating mindfully." point being if you eat mindfully, you can eat a moderate quantity and have an amazing amount of satisfaction.

    it is a great weight management tool.

    best wishes, marie


  4. Heather

    You seriously read my MIND! I was thinking of that exact quote from your last post when I was cutting onions wondering how I'd ever learn to cut in such a Zen-like manner. And I thought, "Shauna and the Chef should do a how-to video." Dead serious! Love that you're doing a series!!! I'm all ears and eyes. Off to practice on mushrooms…


  5. Kerrie

    Love the video, just finished watching it. I really value a sharp knife, just last week I boxed our most used knives and sent them to be sharpened while we are away vacationing! I would appreciate a knife skills video on tomatoes, both slices and dices. Some how I always massacre a tomato.

  6. Shelby

    It's funny how much good knife skills can change you. I love to cook, to bake & have been doing it since a young age. Was even a Pampered Chef consultant for 12 years. It wasn't till I took a class that taught me (LOVE the video you did) that I truly felt competent in the kitchen. There is something both empowering and meditative in chopping veggies & herbs. It's some of my favorite kitchen work.

  7. Shae | Hitchhiking to Heaven

    I too have been thinking of that part of your post all week — every time I'm chopping veggies in the kitchen, wondering how it could be as comfortable as you described. I had some idea, but this makes clearer what I need to practice. Thank you! More knife-skills videos would be awesome — tomatoes, yes, please!

  8. RosieGirlDreams.com

    Love it! I need me some much-better-than-what-i've-got knife skills. Inspirational.

  9. Deborah Wiles

    Danny taught at NECI? I got my MFA at Vermont College in Montpelier. NECI students worked in our dining hall and cooked our food. It was always, always an adventure! Sometimes amazing. Sometimes… not. But they were learning and so were we, and the cookies were always awesome. Love the video. I need good knife skills. Wet towel! Debbie Wiles

  10. The Country Mouse

    Thank you for this! I just chopped snow peas and scallions for supper, they looked great, and I never once felt like I might lose a fingertip. How has no one ever shown me this before? More! MORE! (Er … please.)

  11. Anonymous

    This video was very helpful! I was really proud of my improvement while prepping onions for dinner last night. The big change for me was sliding the knife FORWARD through the food instead of just bringing it down over the veggies like a guillotine. I am looking forward to more knife skills lessons in the future. Thanks!

  12. Sara

    great video, loved lucy's little additions 🙂 i've seen the 'fingers curled under' advice before, but haven't really been able to apply it in the kitchen, i feel like i can't actually get a grip on the food that way =/

  13. Holly Bruns

    This is great! I'm going to be really selfish and ask if you would do a 'how to care for your knives' video some day. I am not sure I know how to sharpen mine properly. Thanks for all the videos, and stories, and photos, and sharing.

  14. Bea

    Do one on knife sharpening!!! That's where I really need help. This is great though.

    You guys are great. Such a cute family.

  15. Jenny, Maniac #401

    Great video. This has saved my fingers several times! My newest favorite kitchen technique involves using a hand grater. I grate up zucchini into " noodles" and top with spaghetti sauce! Yum!

  16. Trista

    Oh gosh, wonderful video, thank you! I had to laugh when Danny said he cringes when you don’t put a wet towel under the cutting board. He’d really freak out if he saw what I’ve been doing. We had to move to another unit in our apartment complex due to a broken water pipe and unfortunately, it’s a smaller unit. I have next to no counter space. So, before I start my cooking I do my chopping of my vegetables. Do you want to know where I put the cutting board? I put it on one of the burners on the stove. The big one in front. Heck I don’t know, maybe the wet towel trick will work there too. 🙂

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