March 2015 Newsletter

Posted by on Mar 3, 2015 in Newsletter | 0 comments

Knife Skills

After addressing a group of culinary students at an ACF state competition, I sat back and thought about my words and the content. In the Skills portion of the competition, one of the four disciplines is “Knife Skills.” It requires a competitor chosen from the team at random to perform this culinary skill. The competitors must dice an onion, cut julienne and chop some tomatoes among other things. As judges, we critique the competitors on the accuracy of the cuts and compare them to a known standard. One of the standards is a molded plastic form with the exact dimensions of the named cuts that are mounted to a board. I describe it as the original “3D APP.” You can look something up and then stick it back in your pocket. If you have ever been to culinary school or attended these competitions, you may have seen this guide or are at least familiar with the names of knife cuts that are common in a professional kitchen. In some cases, students spend hours fine-tuning their skills such as lining up their little sticks of carrots up in a row like little Napoleonic Soldiers. A sight to see!

That day, I stressed to the students the importance of practicing these cuts: if they perfect them, the cuts will become second nature and they will be better chefs for it. I was prepping them for the real world of the professional kitchen and they needed to know it. In reality, I don’t want to be a hypocrite, but lately, the examples I have seen in the industry are appalling. I was at a showing of new pre-cut vegetables that certain markets can use in our industry. For example, kitchens that don’t have enough staff for the amount of work that they need to accomplish over the course of the day. This could benefit them by reducing labor costs. I said to the vendor, “you have got to be kidding me!” I could have cut this better myself with a dull cleaver and been more consistent. He explained to me it was “all hand cut.” He wasn’t convincing any one that just because it’s called hand cut (out of a bag) that it’s going to be better.

March Newsletter 2015

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