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Jan 12, 2008 06:49 PM

Alton's knife skills

I like Alton Brown, despite his liberal use of "ah's" in his monologues, but today I saw him teaching people to chop by moving the food toward the knife (I always move the knife). How do YOU do it?

Then he pulverized a poor garlic clove with a cube of marble! Ghastly scene - I made my child look away. I hate it when he overcomplicates things, especially with a single-function tool.

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  1. I haven't really noticed his knife skills, I have noticed his frequnt use of 'Ah's". I always though that if a contestant had done that on Food Network Star, it would have been pointed out as a flaw. He loves that word.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bookwormchef

      I love Alton. I think he's fantastic. I love how he explains why these processes work they way that they do. I've never noticed anything strange about his chopping skills. It seems to me that however you feel comfortable holding a knife is how you should do it.

    2. Strange about the single-f(x) tool -- He usually talks about avoiding them. '
      I move the knife, but am not a trained cook.

      Have you noticed Jamie Oliver's knife skills? Shazam! He is fast.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gridder

        He's fast but his cuts aren't very uniform.

      2. Depends on what you're cutting. Some items have more friction than others. Usually people can't move the food because they're trying to cut too much of it at once. IMO, the important point is to use your knuckle as a guide, whether moving the knife or the food.

        1. maybe off-topic, but i hate it when nigella mangles veggies with that demi-lune. learn to cut, already!

          9 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            If a demi-lune is that weir semi-circle shaped thing the yes! I totally agree with you. It looks even more complicated than cutting and it looks all messy and uneven and bruised.

            1. re: alkapal

              I saw her use a tiny dinky knife yesterday to cut a scallion, low and behold she mangled it. Then she picked up a silly half moon rocking thing, that looked awkwardly small and clumsy. She looked embarrassed after she used it. I wish she would of been more Julia Child, had a good laugh at it and tossed the silly thing in the garbage.

              I really do like her show, but I was sort of scared for her.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                yep, it was the same show. she also wasted half of the white parts of the scallions by chopping them off carelessly. waste not, want not, nigella!

                i don't get her apparent ignorance on cutting?!?!

                1. re: alkapal

                  I was taken back as well... I love her recipes, maybe she is just a sloppy cook and then again it was "express meals". She isn't particularly fussy, I guess I can forgive her...and hopefully she wrapped the rest of the onions up for another dish..

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Its a mezzaluna .... VERY effective once you learn to use it correctly. And with BOTH hands away from the blade, extremely safe. No, its not a perfect chop, but it gets the job done with herbs, etc.

                    1. re: Cheflambo

                      i'm aware that it is a mezzaluna, but one doesn't use it for practically everything, like nigella. yes, it is fine for herbs. what else can it be used for -- without a mangling? mincing meat, maybe?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        my mom always used a mezz to chop walnuts and other nuts for baking-- she had a heavy old iron one that fit in a hand-hollowed wood bowl-- kind of a dull blade. it was the only thing she used it for.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          that makes a lot of sense, to keep the nuts from skittering away! how large was the bowl?

                          1. re: alkapal

                            she had a small one not much wider than the mezz, that was made to fit it-- she had larger wood bowls she could have used it in, but i don't think she ever did, come to think of it! she always just kept the mezz and bowl set-up on the counter, very homey. growing up, i didn't realize *everyone* didn't have a mezz just for walnuts, and was kind of bemused when they came back into vogue, for herbs, because we always chopped those on a board. i do think they're great for chopping nuts though! :)

              2. I was taught; knuckles to guide the knife, thumb to push the food. single use tools are only for stuff that other tools don't work well for. the side of a knife works fine for garlic.

                11 Replies
                1. re: chazzerking

                  yeah, but NOWHERE near as dramatic! {;>o

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Maybe they'll give Gallagher a show next.

                    1. re: LabRat

                      LOL! For me, it's quite exciting to watch Rachel Ray use her knife: I keep waiting for her to cut off her nails...

                      1. re: Claudette

                        Hey now! I've done that! Time for a manicure!

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          Hell! that's what nails are for isn't it? absent their presence, I'd have shorter fingers

                          1. re: chazzerking

                            sally hansen nail hardener has nothin' on a wusthof!

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Alkapal (what does that mean by the way?)
                              The first time I had Thai basil shrimp I saw the lemongrass slices and thought they looked like toe nails! Can't be too careful!

                            2. re: chazzerking

                              Chazzerking - yes and then you might slice your fingers! I call them finger guards!

                    2. re: chazzerking

                      That is the way I was taught too. I move the food. I didn't see the episode, but I use the side of my knife for garlic.