I’ve come to a conclusion: you are what you cut. I am so convinced of this maxim that the knife is, in my opinion, the instrument that determines whether any serious cooking will occur. Those that love their knife, hone it every time they have ingredients before them on a cutting board, have it professionally sharpened at least once a year, keep it clean and visible at all times, are proud of their investment in this piece of fine crafted metal, love the feel of it in their hand, especially when it beautifully slices and dices through onions, ginger, garlic, and carrots, they are likely to be devoted, passionate cooks, spending much more time than most in their kitchens, and better quality time at the dinner table. But those that have dull knifes, don’t use it with any confidence, hate the thought of cutting the onions, garlic, ginger, and carrots, thus not motivated to get started because all cooking begins with preliminary cuts, keep their dull knife in a drawer, out of sight, as it only reminds them of a tedious chore, and they are always on the look-out for quick and easy solutions, they are likely to spend uninspired time in their kitchen and less than satisfactory time at the dinner table. I’m always encouraged by the incredible quality of the knives the Foodies bring to our classes and how determined they are to learn to them well. I wish my professional students were just as determined, consistent, and persistent, as they too often try to learn bigger fish without knowing mastering the very basics of pre-cooking/plating techniques.
What’s the real message here? Cooking is doing. Cooking is time and effort. Cooking is technique and performance. Most of the cooking time occurs during prepping. If you know how to use the knife you will cook – period. No cookbook, no food show, no smell, taste, no travel experience can connect you to your kitchen and dining table like the knife.
Once the knife issue is out of the way – and I’ll come back to this topic when classes, both professional and amateur, begin in September and will share some tips, actually new training techniques I want to continue experimenting with – the next learning essentials are mise-en-place, key culinary happenings, and how to apply heat. In every term I try to evolve how I teach these essentials, mostly learning new details from colleagues and student behavior. Look out for future blogs on those key essentials.
Owner, Chef Instructor