Cheffy knife skills: you don't need them

Cheffy knife skills: you don't need them

An onion chopped any which way is still just an onion

Do you think you need to improve your knife skills?

I think you don't.


So often we seem to be transferring what makes sense in a professional setting, to our private at home settings.

Such as applying regulations that are meant for mass farming to keeping backyard chickens, using rules that make sense in a food factory in our home kitchens, or looking to use skills that are relevant in a restaurant to cook our family dinner.

To me, this doesn't make sense at all.

It doesn't make sense that the same should apply for someone keeping 30,000 chickens in a shed the size of a football field to someone keeping three chickens in a little garden coop, as it doesn't make sense that what applies to the factory production of, say, yoghurt, would apply the same (or even remotely similar) to making yoghurt at home. And in the same way, what makes sense in a restaurant doesn't necessarily apply to what you do at home.


Let's just take knife skills as an example.

A lot is being touted by cooking experts all over about learning proper knife skills : it's meant to be safer, save you time, and make you a better cook.

Well... in a restaurant, as a chef, you probably chop... 200 onions a day? While when cooking dinner tonight you'll be chopping one onion.

Superlative chopping skills with well practiced technique might save you... 15 seconds per onion? If chopping 200 that would be a huge time saving. If just chopping one onion, 15 seconds more or less really doesn't matter.

It's the same thing with driving: you got your satnav on and it gives you a certain arrival time. You're in a rush so you're speeding, overtaking, and stepping on that gas. 20 miles later you have shaved one minute off the original time estimate - was that really worth all that edgy driving?


So is it really worth getting hung up about knife skills when all you're doing is cooking dinner?

The truth is that an onion chopped any which way is still just an onion.

Yes, the size and shape of onion bits does make a difference (more on this another day) but your dinner will still taste good, whichever way.


Of course, safety is a concern too: knives can be dangerous indeed. 

But here too, common sense is called for: 

Be careful when handling knives.

Use a sharp knife: blunt knives slip and this is when accidents happen.

Don't get distracted while chopping (easier said than done, I know).

Sure, there are techniques meant to make accidents less likely to happen. And if you want to practice these, that's great.

But don't judge your cooking by your knife skills. They are NOT essential.


Just get cooking. Chop it all up whichever way. Simply pay attention.

As the Zen saying goes: when chopping an onion, just chop an onion.

Learn to love the time spent cooking as precious 'me time' - regardless your level of knife skills.


Oh, and teach your kids early how to help with the chopping - with a child safe knife, of course.

Categories: (RE)THINK


We all have a cook in us! Sign up to our newsletter to unleash your own inner cook. Packed with practical tips, tasty insights, and food for thought to empower and inspire your cooking beyond recipes.
Come join us for your weekly dose of kitchen confidence!

We will never pass on your details. Obviously.
For more information see our Privacy Policy.