Why Are Knife Skills Important to Learn In Culinary School?
If you take nothing else away with you other than good knife skills when you complete culinary school, you will still have a great foundation for a career in the food industry. That’s because knife skills, or the ability to properly use and maintain your knives, are one of the most important things you will learn as a culinary student.
Typically the first class you’ll take in a culinary program, they are also the ones most commonly brushed up on if it’s been a few years since you worked in a professional kitchen.
What are Knife Skills?
Knife skills cover a wide range of activities related to the food preparation portion of cooking. This includes:
Holding a chef’s knife
Holding food while cutting
Avoiding injuries with a knife
Chopping common foods (such as onions)
Basic knife cuts
The best types of chef knives
Depending on the type of culinary course you take, you can spend a few days or even a few months honing all of these skills.
Why These Knife Skills Matter
When it comes to the culinary arts, many professionals rank prep work low on the totem pole. Typically reserved for entry-level cooks, cutting vegetables is what gets done before the “real” work in the kitchen begins. However, having good knife skills is a requirement if you want to succeed—either as a chef or as a restaurant. Here’s why:
Consistent cuts equal uniform cooking times. If you cut vegetables into varying sizes, they will all cook at different rates. This can quickly spell disaster. Few things are worse than a delicious dish with half of the carrots undercooked and the other half overcooked.
Prettier dishes taste better. Part of the dining experience includes the visual aspect. Well-plated dishes with a colorful range of ingredients make for a better meal, regardless of whether or not it tastes as good a bland, unappealing dish the next table over. Cutting things with flair can make all the difference.
It’s obvious you know what you’re doing. Just as you wouldn’t trust an architect who is bad at math to design your home, few people want to be fed by a chef who skips the building blocks of working in the kitchen. Developing knife skills is the first step in many as you begin your path in culinary school, and it’s important to start right.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.