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  • The Chopping Blog

Life List: Learn to Use a Knife

Posted by Val on Oct 23, 2013

Cooking, and food, were passions I shared with my dad. Every Thanksgiving, while the rest of my family stayed far away, I would spend the day with him in the kitchen – dressing the turkey, preparing casseroles, peeling potatoes. When I moved into my first apartment in college, had my own oven for the first time, he gave me a binder filled with his favorite recipes. He taught me everything I knew.

We were a family who loved to eat, whether it was home cooked meals or a night out someplace nice. Food was important to us. So, when my dad found out he had cancer, he started to make a list of all of the restaurants he had always wanted to go to, but never had. It was a page full of places ranging from greasy hot dog joints to 3-star experiences.

When he passed away, a year later, he left behind that list.

At that moment, the untouched life list I had started crafting became all the more important. There were so many things I wanted to do in life, wanted to learn, wanted to see, but always put off for one reason or another.

Some items on my list were big and complicated – travel the world, learn to surf.

Some, small – visit a popular museum, learn to cook my favorite food.

But no matter how trivial the item seemed, it was something I wanted to accomplish. I didn’t want to leave a list behind.

Today, my ever-growing life list contains over 200 things, and, so far, I have crossed off 26 of them.

Knife Skills Class at The Chopping Block Photo Courtesy Val Bromann

One of the skills I’ve always wanted to learn was how to properly use kitchen knives. I like to think that I can cook decently, but I never really knew how to correctly hold a knife and cutting vegetables into anything resembling uniform pieces was well beyond me.

Last October I had crossed another item off of my life list at The Chopping Block: learn to make gnocchi. It is one of my favorite foods – one of those things I almost always get at Italian restaurants or would buy pre-made from the frozen foods section because it seemed like something too difficult to make from scratch.

Photo Courtesy Val Bromann Photo Courtesy Val Bromann

After the class though, I realized that it was much simpler than I ever thought and was able to make some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever eaten. So I decided to return to The Chopping Block to cross “learn to properly use kitchen knives” off of my life list.

One night in September, I gathered with other students at the Lincoln Square store for the two and a half hour knife skills class. Our instructor taught us about the different types of knives, knife safety, and knife care. Then the rest of the class was hands on – we each took a chefs knife, trading between vegetables to see and feel the differences in brands, and learned different techniques for cutting everything from onions to carrots to garlic. In the end, I walked away with bags full of vegetables cut more perfectly than any vegetables I’d cut in my life, a newfound confidence in the kitchen, and one more life goal completed. And yes, I did learn that I have been holding my chef’s knife completely wrong for my entire life.

Photo Courtesy Val Bromann Photo Courtesy Val Bromann



Topics: gnocchi, dice, knife, cut, list, Knife Skills, cooking, chop, family, food, The Chopping Block, Recipes, uniform

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