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How are your knife skills?

My suck, but aren't as bad as my husband's...who is painful to watch.

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  1. Good enough to debone a trout and leave it intact. First saw it done at Yellowstone lodge and kept working at it . Ate lots of fish.

    1. Excellent for slicing, dicing, julienning, mincing, etc. They suck for fileting and de-boning. I would not be the first person you would go to for carving a turkey, either.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gardencook

        Mr Pine calls my turkey carving "hackarama time." I always start with the best of intentions, but it quickly devolves into a greasy, slippery mess. Not only bad carving skills, but less than ideal knife.

      2. Keep trying. Don't be intimidated by TV chefs. They do it for a living and have hundreds of hours of practice behind them. Take your time and get it done right.

        Mine are okay I guess. Good enough for me and that's what counts.


        1. Mine are good...but every once in a while:

          1 Reply
          1. re: BiscuitBoy

            Impressive. Would give you more points if you'd stitched it yourself. ;p

          2. My knife skills are...
            Not as good as Hung's from Top Chef (season 3) but better than Casey's from Top Chef (also S3)

            Twice as good as my mother's but 20 times as good as my father's.

            Probably not as good as Thomas Keller's but much better than Helen Keller's (probably)

            Good enough to evenly fine dice an onion in a few seconds or break down a chicken in under a minute, but not so good that I can get rid of the box of band-aids in my kitchen cupboard.

            9 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee

              "Good enough to evenly fine dice an onion in a few seconds or break down a chicken in under a minute"

              That put you over 99th percentile of the US population.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Given the current US population is around 320 million, I'd say likely five-nines over the masses.

                1. re: wattacetti

                  "five-nines over the masses"

                  You mean cowboy's knife skill is over 59% of the US population? I don't know. Given that 25% of the population is under age 20 and over age 60, you are really putting cowboy's skill below average among those between age 20-60. :P


                  Seriously, the fact that he can breakdown a chicken under a minute and dice up an onion in a few second (probably like the same speed as Salty's blind onion), I think is definitely at the 95 percentile if not 99 percentile.


                    1. re: pamf

                      Oh............. :D. Thanks for the correction.

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      To be honest, it was a bit of an exaggeration. I've never timed myself. I can cut an onion salty-style and pretty close to salty's speed. Though not blindfolded. But even that is probably closer to 20 or 25 seconds for peeling and dicing a whole onion. And the chicken thing depends on whether you need the tenderloins kept on the breast or the thigh and leg separated. Quick enough though, I guess.

                      But seeing as I just prepared a meal at my in-laws in their kitchen, I'm reminded that a lot of that speed and precision comes from having very sharp, thin knives. Cutting onions today with a Cuisinart chefs knife that hadn't been sharpened in a decade definitely took more than a few seconds.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        "utting onions today with a Cuisinart chefs knife that hadn't been sharpened in a decade definitely took more than a few seconds."

                        That is true.

                        Hey, by the way, how many Salty are there? Some time ago I went to Mark's Chefknivestogo website and saw the "Salty's Corner". It took me a few minutes to realize it is not the same Salty.

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        part of the 1%!, in a Chowhounding kind of way...
                        What will the 99% do to him with their knives - ooh!

                        1. re: gingershelley

                          "What will the 99% do to him with their knives "

                          Jealousy leads to fear, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred -- which all fuel the power of the dark side.

                2. Good enough for all my cooking purposes. The key are good (or at least *sharp*) knives, a good & stable cutting board (I cannot count the times I'd cut myself b/c the damn board moved at the wrong moment), and the right technique.

                  I can filet whole fish, I'm not that great at carving birds. But my knife skills are good enough that I rarely use the mandoline -- that's only for time-saving purposes or large volumes.

                  1. ... will never be as good as my mom's.

                    1. They're better than almost all of the people I've ever cooked with but I have to give a lot of credit to my husband who keeps them sharp and my big cutting board that gives me the room to spread out. I get great satisfaction out of cutting up a chicken, especially when I cut the leg from the thigh in one accurate stroke. On a cold, grey day I look forward to prepping all the ingredients for a minestrone while the fire crackles and a favorite movie plays on the TV in the kitchen.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: escondido123

                        You kinda bring up a good point. A good size cutting board give you plenty of room to roam around and probably THE most important thing (other than sharp knife) is using the proper knife. I've seen Mrs. Sippi try and attack a Vidalia onion with a paring knife. Conversely, she's tried delicate maneuvers with a chefs knife. Use the right tool for the job and it becomes much easier.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          I truly believe if you master a chef's knife you can use it for virtually everything except peeling--and even that I can do if it's the size of an apple or bigger.

                      2. I still have all my fingers, so I guess they're OK.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: treb

                          me too, but several have multiple scars. guess that's not the best measure of knife skills for me.

                        2. Ok when the knives are sharp, horrible when they are not. I'm not bad when compared to a lot of my friends but far from good.

                          1. Mine are better than the average bear's, but worse than when I wielded a knife for a living.

                            1. Good enough to achieve the ends I want, given that I am NOT a perfectionist and I really don't care less if everything is perfectly evenly diced and sliced... I'd never get a job in a restaurant!

                              My brother spends three hours prepping for a stir-fry before he starts cooking. I turn on the pan, grab some veggies, and chop as I go. His is far more immaculate than mine, but they both taste the same in the end!

                              1. My knife skill is adequate for most of what I need -- both in term of control and of speed, but I can certainly use some improvements.

                                Of course, there are vastly different of knife skills. There is the knife skill to dice up a onion, which is different than the knife skill to break up a chicken, which is different than the knife skill to do katsuramuki.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  I tired katsuramuki carrots once with a gyuto... I felt like I had VERY poor knife skills then.

                                  Mincing, julienne, large, and medium dice are all no big deal. I would venture to say I have good knife skills, certainly not salty-style tomato cutting (although, Salty's ability as a sharpener probably impacts this to a greater degree).

                                  1. re: mateo21


                                    I think it is a slightly harder (but not impossible) to do katsuramuki with a gyuto (curved blade knife). Still, I don't know this means you have poor katsuramuki skill. I have above average knife skill compared to people I know. That being said, I don't know chef friends, so I would say that I have better knife skill than most home cooks, but probably not as good as most chefs.

                                    I did want to say that one person can be very good with certain knife skills but not others. I can imagine a Japansese chef very good at katsuramuki but may not at breaking down a chicken.

                                    I agree your assessment regarding Salty's knife sharpener skill directly impacts his knife wielder skill.

                                    1. re: mateo21

                                      "although, Salty's ability as a sharpener probably impacts this to a greater degree"
                                      The sharpening is pretty important to the tomato cutting trick. It's actually quite easy to do something similar with an ever-so-slight pushing motion while cutting if your knife is pretty sharp (but not necessarily fresh off the stones like Salty's knife), and if you did it as fast as you can it would look sorta similar. But that straight up and down chop through tomato skins requires an edge fresh from a skillful sharpening on a high grit stone and/or some strops.

                                      It's also a little bit trickier than it seems to avoid flinging tomato all over the place while you're cutting like this. Also, sometimes you can see him compensating for the edge failing as he goes by moving forward and cutting nearer to the heel of the knife as he goes without breaking his momentum. Strangely, that is what I've found to be the hardest thing about mimicking that particular trick - the adjusting as you go.

                                      But yeah, the fresh sharpening is the most important part.

                                  2. I have a better that average knife skills, but my fish skills suck. I need to buy some whole fishes and learn.

                                    1. Mine are pretty good. Wife is strapped to the wheel. and I throw them, as she spins. I seldom hit her...

                                      No, in reality, mine could be improved upon. I do not slice and dice, like they do on "Top Chef, " but then I do not cut off the tip of my fingers, so a bit of speed might not be the ideal.

                                      Still, mine could be improved upon. While I have about 24 specialized knives, and try to choose the correct one, for the task, still, could be better.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        So now we know the true identity of "Bronco Billy"!

                                      2. I'm really just learning good knife skills. I still get better results with a semiautomatic and a high capacity magazine.

                                        1. Tournes are still the bane of my existence.

                                          1. Good as vegetables and fruits go, terrible as meat/fish/chicken go. For all the training that chefs go through, I'd put most chinese grandmothers' knife skills up against them. My mom and MIL are so incredibly fast w/ a chinese cleaver, meat or vegetables. They can probably shred faster than my food processor can, debone and/or take apart a chicken in no time, little waste.

                                            26 Replies
                                              1. re: hetook

                                                Fast but doesn't compare. Honestly, a chinese cleaver in the hands of a grandmother is amazing. They finely cut the vegetables to even little slices for eggrolls in no time.

                                                1. re: chowser


                                                  This guy's basic knife skills are pretty impressive. I mentioned him above. His sharpening skills are similarly impressive.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee


                                                    That guy is pretty good, but Salty is probably a slightly but noticeably better. Salty is in cowboyardee's video. Here is Salty's blind onion:


                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      yeah, I agree. Salty walks us thru it. He had better watch that finger, though. When u r that good,can u chop the same with a cheap knife? The practitioner looks like he has a special connection w/ his tool.

                                                      1. re: hetook

                                                        "He had better watch that finger, though"

                                                        :) Well, the middle finger of the other hand.....look at the pause.
                                                        (viewer discretion is advised)


                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Those were both impressive. I wonder what he's like when he's watching.

                                                        1. re: ukjason

                                                          yeah ,but can salty do this kind of volume w/o the profanity?

                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                        That was impressive!

                                                        Was that you, Cowboy, or Chem?

                                                        1. re: DPGood

                                                          Neither...... it could be cowboy's secret identity, but definitely not me.

                                                          Aside from Salty's incredibly sharp knife and quick knife skill, I don't know if you notice one very impressive and yet slightly subtle display. Salty intentionally showed it, but people who are not used to these knife videos may not know what to look for -- the potato did not at his knife blade. This is one of the main reasons he was able to go so fast. Had the potato slice stuck to the blade, it would have slowed Salty down for sure. Watch the cowboyardee link from 2:07 minute:


                                                          A good knife with good knife skill will do just that.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            whoa, far out!! there's a guiding force at work.

                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                          you can see the knife loosing its edge a the 40second mark in the video

                                                        3. re: chowser

                                                          hey chowser,could salty take on the Iron Chef Grandma?

                                                          1. re: hetook

                                                            I'm going to challenge my MIL to make eggrolls blindfolded.;-)

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              First of all, I have to say that I have a phobia of sharp knives, needles, etc. The thought of getting cut with a sharp knife just sends me over the edge. I must have been run through in a war in a different life.
                                                              And for those of you who are tempted to tell me, "If the knife is sharp, the less chance you have of cutting yourself", save your breath. It ain't gonna happen.
                                                              I'd probably be tempted, in a wierd way, to actually WANT to cut myself, the same way that people look over the edge of a tall building and "want" to jump off.
                                                              That having been said, I actually do a (decent) job of cutting onions and veggies using just (don't laugh) a steak knife.
                                                              And I've been cooking for 40 years.
                                                              It's good enough for me.

                                                              1. re: aurora50

                                                                Have you considered an offset serrated bread knife? If you are dead set on the serrated, not-too-sharp route, an offset bread knife is more efficient and will probably help you get your prep done quicker and easier.

                                                                Something like this.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  Thank you for your suggestion, cowboyardee, but I have very small hands, and I've been using a steak knife for so long, I actually think an offset bread knife would feel awkward to use!
                                                                  Good idea, though.

                                                                2. re: aurora50

                                                                  I do all my cutting with a 5-inch knife. I only dig out the 'real' chefs knife for really big, heavy-duty jobs, and then I'm half afraid I'm going to cut a finger off. I have small hands and weak wrists and a big knife is too heavy. It's all a matter of what you're used to - grandma did almost everything with a paring knife!

                                                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                                                    Thanks Kajikit, I don't feel like I'm the only one now.
                                                                    : )

                                                                    1. re: aurora50

                                                                      I have to say, the chef's knife was worth it for doing the sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. They're easy to peel, but so hard that I struggle to cut them up with the smaller knife, and the big knife went wham, wham, wham, done!

                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                          I too will use a big chef's knife on very specific occasions (like cutting up potatoes, as you did).
                                                                          But that is rare for me, and I don't use the knife "the right way", with all that rocking of the knife back and forth, etc. I've tried the "right way", and it feels extremely uncomfortable - just not for me.

                                                                3. re: chowser

                                                                  :D Blindfold eggrolls, too funny.

                                                        4. Have more accuracy than speed. Like to use scissors on meat, raw or cooked (good ahead and laugh - it really works well in many circumstances!) I have a tendency to see what others are doing and then find my own way.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                            sandylc, I also like to use kitchen shears to cut herbs (cilantro, parsley, etc.), and they are also handy for cutting bacon into lardons for recipes.

                                                            1. re: aurora50

                                                              Yes! Another great use for them. I reach for my scissors a lot in the kitchen.

                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                Scissors are great and definitely have their purpose but they can't dice, slice or julienne and wreak havoc on a tomato. A sharp pair can slice bread dough better than a razor blade, though. And, I saw a clip of Sandra Lee spatchcocking a chicken which was surprisingly easy and effective.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  That is true. Of course I use a chef knife for all of the slicing, dicing, chopping, mincing, julienning, etcetcetc. But as much as I hate to have anything in common with Sandra Lee (ha), I always spatchcock with kitchen scissors.

                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                    "I hate to have anything in common with Sandra Lee ("

                                                                    A saint can be wrong 1 out of 1000 attempts, and an idiot can be right 1 out of 1000 trials.

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      Cute! I have a different outlook on food than she does, that's all. To paraphrase a NYT columnist, she discourages a love of cooking and she encourages the use of processed foods over simple, nutritious ones.

                                                          2. My knife skills are decent. My husband and I took a knife-skills class at our local independent kitchen supply/cutlery store. I am so glad we did. It was only a few hours, but it gave me confidence and speed in all my food prep. I wish the guy had a knife skills class for butchering/carving/deboning fish. I would totally be into that. I like using some of that rubberized mesh (drawer liner) under my cutting board. It keeps it from sliding around. I use my santoku blade for about 80% of my food prep. I almost never reach for my chefs knife anymore.

                                                            1. Was making kombucha the other day and saw this.I like the short sequence with this aussie chopping apples. ha. http://youtu.be/ty5_LxlgyQY

                                                              1. I'm no Salty but am pretty good and keep practicing with every meal. A good sharp knife is essential

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                  Can someone tell me if there are many famous Salty or what?


                                                                  How many famous Saltys are there?

                                                                2. I'll place a bet. I'll bet a sweet card dealer ie. Vegas, would make a pretty good knife skills expert. Not too sure about fileting or deboning.

                                                                  1. Ugh. I thought they were great.... until I lobbed of a fifth of my index finger just a few minutes ago while chopping Brussel sprouts. And it was pure idiocy -- too small cutting board, not properly secured, AND thinking 'who needs the claw technique when you're working with those small nubby things'.


                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      My sympathies. I have done that. They stitched it back on and it hurt like bloody hell for a week! May time pass quickly for you over the course of the near future!

                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                        Should you be in a hospital (as opposed to typing) when you lobbed off a finger? I had chopped through my fingernail. Long story short, the ER doctor decided to pull off my entire fingernail. I can tell you that it hurted more than a week....

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                          Oh goodness! No, thankfully my nails are on the short to very short side (I'm a biter >blushes<), and I didn't actually cut anything *off*.

                                                                          It's just a deep one that took quite a while to stop bleeding. And pressure. And saliva (magic saliva).

                                                                          I just realized the last time I cut myself this badly was maybe 7 years ago, so my average ain't all that bad. That was when I was julienning red peppers -- for some reason, my risk of cutting myself doubles when I cut/chop bell peppers. What gives?

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            Been about 6 yrs since I cut into the tip of my left index finger. Still had a hinge. Should have gone for sutures but just stuck it back on, wrapped tight and kept going. Bled for a few days Took a LONG time to heal. I curl those fingers all the time now. So far the only cuts I get are from bumping into the heal of my J-knives. Usually with my thumb. I feel your pain

                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                              One of the best 'tricks' for any woman or man) under the height of 5'7", is to stand on a flat stool or stand to get ABOVE the counter for cutting. One of the things I teach in my cooking classes, is that most of us don't have control of the counter, cutting board, knife - truly if we can't have the dexterity that those who can use the height of the standard counter to their advantage.
                                                                              Many women, and some men are not tall enough to get a good angle to do good knife work as we are not far enough above the work surface for easy downward pressure, etc. This is true for rolling out dough, mixing, and more.

                                                                              In my next kitchen - I am 5'4", I will lower my main prep counter to "30 inches from the standard '32 to help with these issues. I wish I had done it on one counter in my current kitchen.
                                                                              Many prep areas of larger commercial kitchen's use stainless steel tables that are set at a level of 30" instead of the standard '32. This allows people to use more upper arm strength, more downforce, and helps with everything from cutting items to mixing in all from bustubs of marinating meat to plating finishing hors d'oeuvres. Kitchen scalability is a good topic to talk about, and it certainly affects knife skills.
                                                                              If I am looking nearly AT the knife as I cut items on my cutting board, versus, DOWN on them, it changes how I can handle my knife, and my finished prep.

                                                                              A thought for all of us, who are not so tall, but love to cook!

                                                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                I'm 5.8, so that is not really an issue (for me, at least). I was just being really, really stupid. It happens.

                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                  Yes it does and in a flash. I doubt you will do it again

                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                    I did it twice. Doesn't say much for my learning abilities.

                                                                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              See now, THAT's why you won't ever catch me with a big, sharp knife!!!!
                                                                              EEEKKK!!!! LOL