Andrew Zimmern's Knife Hacks Every Home Chef Should Know

Ever start a recipe and think, "Wait, what is a food 'matchstick' really supposed to look like?" Or wondered to yourself if you've diced something a quarter of an inch properly? Maybe you don't have time for that nonsense, and your concerns are more hands-on — you've never taken Knife Skills 101 and you're embarrassed by your uneven cuts and poor technique. Embarrassed, you refuse to chop in front of other people and it's really cramping your style when you get together for homemade dinners with your friends. 

Whether you're approaching the problem from the philosophical or purely practical angle, Andrew Zimmern has a solution. As a great chef, Zimmern has an impressive repertoire of talents, and he's certainly got the knife skills to match his cooking chops. Best of all, he's happy to share his best tips with those of us who could learn the most important kitchen knife skills to use on our own. Zimmern tweeted a video where he walks us through four essential knife skills.

Cuts that build on each other

He's already helped us change the way we slice onions forever, and now Andrew Zimmern is showing us how to perfect our knife skills. He first shows us how to cut batons. He starts with simple quarter slices of a cucumber, and makes quick work of those (via YouTube). He then takes those cucumber slices, stacks them, and cuts them into quarter-inch lengths, producing perfect batons. Next, he does the same, but this time, a tad finer: ZImmern makes these slices a slender one-sixteenth of an inch, lays them flat, and cuts them into very thin matchsticks (aka allumettes, since some prefer to keep their culinary conversations in French). 

What if you want diced veggies? That's a cinch from here: you use those quarter batons, chop them into fourths horizontally, and voilà: perfect quarter dice. For microdice (brunoise), the process is the same: you take the allumettes and make another set of one-sixteenth cuts, providing you with perfect mini-cubes for garnishes, according to Zimmern. 

The chef concludes his video with an encouraging promise, telling his audience that if they practice these techniques, their knife skills will improve "about 300%." As the celebrated chef himself puts it, "Who doesn't want to be able to improve their knife skills and show off to their friends. I do. don't you?" Indeed we do.