Fundamental Knife Skills




  • Steel knife
  • Chef’s knife
  • Paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Sharpening steel


  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Fish filet


  1. The basics are a steel, a chef’s knife, a slicer, and a paring knife. 00:12

  2. To hold a knife, curl your middle, ring, and pinky fingers around the handle. Rest your forefinger against the tang of the knife and use the thumb for stability. 01:07

  3. To slice, use a long, smooth motion. 01:25

  4. Keep hand and fingers away from the blade of the knife. Hold the ingredient to be cut with fingers curled under in a “claw” shape, never with fingers extended flat. Use the middle knuckle area as the guide and guard for the blade. 01:32

  5. To dice an onion for general use: slice onion in half and peel. Trim off ends. With onion half flat-side down, slice through the onion parallel to the cutting surface in 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch increments, stopping before you get to the root. Turn onion so cut end is facing you. Slice toward you with the grain in even increments. Then turn onion 90 degrees and slice against the grain in even increments. 02:03

  6. The cutting motion begins with the tip of the knife inserted into the onion then brought down and forward by the weight of the knife in a long, deliberate motion. 02:42

  7. For a more precise dice: trim the ends of the onion and slice into quarters. Take one quarter and peel. Separate onion layers. Stack 2-3 onion layers and, using the tip of the knife, slice lengthwise with the grain in even increments. Don’t cut all the way through, leave about 1/2 inch at the end to keep the onion together. Turn the onion 90 degrees and cut against the grain in even increments. The diced onion pieces should be more square and uniform in size. 03:02

  8. To prepare raw carrots: remove skin from carrot with a peeler. Trim off the ends. 04:02

  9. To dice: slice carrot in half widthwise then slice top half lengthwise. Take a carrot quarter and lay flat for stability. Slice across the long way in even increments to end up with carrot sticks. Turn sticks 90 degrees and cut across them in even increments to end up with uniform diced carrot. 04:13

  10. To julienne: take a carrot quarter and lay flat for stability. Cut thin slices in even increments lengthwise. Stack carrot planks and slice in even increments lengthwise to end up with julienned carrots. 04:48

  11. To cut a carrot tourné: start with a peeled carrot quarter. Using a paring knife, slice down the length of the carrot in curved motion. The carrot should be tapered at the ends and have 7 sides. 05:06

  12. To filet a fish: cut the fins using kitchen sheers. Using a slicing knife, make a cut right below the gil. With the fish head point towards you, insert the tip of the knife into the fish by the tail then cut down along the backbone using small, deliberate strokes. The top half of the fish should be loose. To release the bottom half, nudge the fish off the backbone and down the skeleton with the tip of the knife. Cut the rib bones away with kitchen shears to remove the filet. 06:01

  13. Turn the fish over and repeat steps to filet the other side. 07:41

  14. To maintain knives, keep them clean and hone edge regularly. To sharpen a knife using a steel, hold the knife using the proper knife grip outlined above. Holding the steel firmly in the non-dominant hand, run the knife down the steel in decisive strokes from the bottom of the blade to the top. Alternate sides until there have been about 6-8 strokes per side. Repeat as needed during the job. 08:18

A sharpening steel, also called a honing steel, consists of a sharpener–either steel, ceramic, or diamond coated–with longitudinal ridges up to a foot long. A honing steel should be used for light maintenance. Knife sharpening, which is done with a sharpening stone or through a professional service, should be done periodically.

There are 7 main parts of a well-made kitchen knife: the blade, blade edge, blade heel (the back of the blade), bolster (the thick part of the blade that attaches to the handle), tang (the part of the blade that extends into the handle), handle, and rivets (the studs that keep the tang securely attached to the handle).

Each cut offers a precise shape: “dice” means to cut into an even, cubical shape; “julienne” means to cut into matchsticks; “tourné” means to cut into a tapered football shape. When cutting any ingredient into a smaller shape, try to make pieces the same size to ensure even cooking and a more polished presentation.