When it comes to steak, it does matter which way you slice it. With grilling season in full swing, you’d be wise to learn the simple technique for making every steak more tender and delicious: slicing across the grain.

One of the most common mistakes with steak preparation is not in the cooking — it’s in the cutting. Meat has long muscle fibers, which are naturally chewy and tough: cutting across them makes each piece of meat easier to chew. In a new video from ICE and Wüsthof, ICE Chef James Briscione shows the proper method for cutting steak. Watch and try for yourself next time you fire up the grill (or pan).

Want to learn knife skills and more alongside the pros? Click here for more information on ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

Summer is the season for seafood. Whether you’re dreaming of sushi like Jiro or picturing the perfect seafood cookout, learning how to properly fillet a fish is essential. But we get why you’ve been putting it off: it’s intimidating. That’s why ICE and Wüsthof teamed up to roll out a new video demonstrating the correct technique for breaking down a whole fish. Watch as Chef Sabrina Sexton, ICE’s Culinary Arts program director, uses a range of Wüsthof blades to fillet a beautiful red snapper. Check out our tips below, outlining the technique, then head to your local fishmonger and make your seafood dreams a reality.

Chef Sabrina’s Guide to Filleting:

  1. Using kitchen shears, snip off the dorsal and pectoral fins (you can see where these fins are located in the video), to prevent them from sticking to your hands (optional).
  2. Using a fish fillet knife, start by making a 45-degree angle cut behind the skull down to the spine.
  3. Next, make a shallow cut along the dorsal fin from head to tail.
  4. Gliding your knife over the bones, trace a shallow cut along the belly from tail to head.
  5. To loosen the fillet, insert your fillet knife and slice towards the tail.
  6. Then, using your chef’s knife, remove the fillet by slicing over the surface of the spine from tail to head. While doing this, you will cut through a few small bones — don’t worry, that’s normal.
  7. Trim away the small row of belly bones. Then use your fingertips to feel for any pin bones and carefully remove them using tweezers. Slice the fillet of fish into portions of your choosing.

Ready to take your culinary skills to the next level? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

 

If you want to cook like a pro, it’s essential to master the fundamentals. That’s why ICE culinary students start their training by learning the proper techniques for basic cuts: from slicing and dicing to a julienne and chiffonade.

In a new video from ICE + Wüsthof, Chef James Briscione, ICE’s Director of Culinary Research and two-time Chopped champion, demonstrates the proper technique for three basic cuts: the slice, the dice and the julienne, just as he does with ICE culinary students. They look simple, but don’t skip these essential skills — mastering these cuts will make you a better, more efficient chef, as you use them again and again for mise en place and more.

Three tips from Chef James:

  1. Slice: The key to slicing is smooth, long cuts. Let the knife glide through the item you are cutting with a smooth sliding motion, rather than just pushing the knife through.

  2. Dice: Dicing should give you perfect cubes. It’s all about consistency — to get the right shape, every cut must be the same 1/2 inch wide, 1/2 inch long, 1/2 inch tall. Use a ruler when you first start to help improve your consistency.

  3. Julienne: Julienne will reveal all of the flaws in your cutting technique. Make sure that your knife moves straight up and down, meaning it should form a perfect 90˚ angle with your board when it makes contact. But also be aware of how the knife lines up. You want to make sure that the knife tip and handle are in a perfect line, not with the tip of the knife leaning to the left or right of the handle. In other words, the knife should also form a 90˚ angle with the edge of the table.

Think culinary arts is your calling? Click here to learn about ICE’s career programs.


When it comes to making layer cakes, it’s all about the tiers — and not the crying kind, though beautiful, Pinterest-worthy layer cakes can occasionally cause some waterworks. Achieving those perfect tiers, however, can be tricky — making a layer cake isn’t exactly, well, a piece of cake. But with the right tools and an expert teacher, it can be. That’s why ICE + Wüsthof have partnered to present a new knife skills video demonstrating the proper knife and technique for splitting a cake into layers. Watch as ICE Chef Sabrina Sexton levels a pound cake into perfect tiers using a serrated bread knife (and don’t miss the stunning layer cake at the end).

Want to sharpen your culinary or pastry skills? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

 

Bright, fresh and packed with flavor, learning to cook with herbs is an essential part of a future chef’s training. A beautifully plated, delicious dish often seems incomplete without at least a hint of greenery. But selecting herbs to adorn your dish is only half the battle — the other half is prepping them. Chefs use different techniques to ensure each herb is handled with care. Understanding these basic cuts is key to a solid foundation in the kitchen — which is why ICE and Wüsthof partnered to create a video demonstrating the proper way to use a classic chef’s knife to cut three herbs: an expert chiffonade with basil, a neat chop with parsley and a smooth slice with chives. Watch, practice and repeat.

Knife Skills Tips from Chef James Briscione

 Chiffonade:

  • Arrange the leaves into a neat pile in the center of your cutting board. Tightly roll the leaves into a cigar shape and hold secure with one hand.
  • Position your knife at one end of the rolled herbs with the knife tip on the board, the heel and handle of the knife lifted high above. Make one smooth slicing motion so that the curve of the blade glides along the cutting board. The idea here is to slice through the herbs, not down onto them, to avoid crushing them. When the heel of the blade reaches the board, lift the knife back to the starting position. Point down on the board and line up your next cut. Continue repeating this motion until all herbs are cut.

Chop:

  • Arrange the leaves in the center of your cutting board. Gather into a tight ball and hold secure with one hand.
  • As with chiffonade, position your knife at one end of the herbs with the knife tip on the board and the heel and handle of the knife lifted high above. Make one smooth slicing motion so that the curve of the blade glides along the cutting board. When the heel of the blade reaches the board, lift the knife back to the starting position. Point down on the board and line up your next cut.
  • Then gather the cut herbs back into a tight ball and rotate the ball 90 degrees. Slice all the way through the herbs again, as above. Repeat until herbs are chopped.

Slice:

  • Place herbs in the center of your cutting board and hold them firmly with one hand.
  • Position your knife at the spot where you want to make the first cut. Curl your non-knife hand into a loose “claw” with your thumb tucked behind your fingers. Rest the front of your knuckles against the side of the knife blade to serve as a guide as you cut. The tip of the knife should extend just ½-inch beyond the front edge of the item being cut.
  • To cut, slide the knife forward driving the tip of the knife toward the cutting board while providing gentle downward pressure. It is essential to move your knife forward and down at the same time for efficient cutting. Continue the motion down until the heel of the blade reaches the cutting board. Lift the knife and reposition your hands for the next cut.

Learn to chop, slice and cook like a pro — click here for more information on ICE’s career programs. 

A chef without a good knife is like a steak without salt — just plain wrong. According to ICE Chef Ted Siegel, a knife is the “singular most important piece of equipment that we use in the kitchen.” ICE and Wüsthof — a premier culinary school and a maker of expertly crafted knives — have been partners for more than 30 years, joining forces to prepare professional chefs and at-home cooks to work with more precision and confidence.

As any chef will tell you, knife skills are equally crucial. That’s why ICE and Wüsthof are combining over four decades of culinary technique and 200 years of craftsmanship to roll out a new video series: knife skills. From slicing and dicing to chiffonade, cake leveling, filleting fish, or finding the grain for the perfect steak, the beauty of expert craftsmanship and skilled chefs shines through — and the result is nothing less than culinary art.

Watch the trailer below for a sneak peek of the knife skills videos coming soon.

Ready to sharpen your culinary skills? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

If there’s one thing that will make your time in the kitchen effortless, efficient and enjoyable, it’s tackling basic knife skills. Below you’ll find our essential tips and a video of ICE Chef Michael Garrett demonstrating how to cut three common vegetables that are surprisingly tricky to break down: an onion, a pepper and a head of cauliflower.

knife skills how to hold a knife

Core Knife Tips:

  1. The average cook only needs three knives in the kitchen: a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated knife. The first is for general slicing, dicing and cutting. A paring knife is ideal for peeling or more intricate work. A serrated knife is essential for cutting any food items with a hard outside and soft inside—like bread or tomatoes.
  2. Proper knife handling: Grip the handle of the knife with your dominant hand, and place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the base of the blade. The other hand’s job is to prevent food from sliding around on the cutting board. For safety purposes, it is best to tuck your fingertips in (curled under like the legs of a crab), while maintaining a steady grip. To slice through an ingredient, rock the blade from tip to base (and repeat).knife skills honing steel
  3. The role of a honing steel: Contrary to what many believe, the honing steel is not a sharpener. Your steel merely straightens the “teeth” of the blade, while a sharpener sharpens the blade. A honing steel restores the edge of your knife and improves cutting ability. To maintain good knives over time, you will need to both hone and sharpen your blades. You should hone your blade every 2-3 times that you use your knives, while sharpening can typically be done just once a year.
  4. Knife sharpening: It may seem counterintuitive, but the sharper your knife is, the safer you will be while using it. A dull knife will slip off of objects—and right onto your fingertips. Sharpening is a special skill, so if you haven’t been properly trained, there are many knife manufacturers or restaurant supply stores that offer reasonably priced knife sharpening.

Video Techniques

Red Pepper: Diced and Julienned

  1. With a chef’s knife, slice the top and bottom off of the pepper.
  2. Slice down through the wall of the pepper from top to bottom. Pull the sides apart to insert your knife.
  3. To remove the seeds and white part of the flesh, turn your knife, so the blade is parallel to the cutting board, and run it along the inside of the pepper from one side to the other, gently separating the seeded core from the rest of the flesh. Remove this and discard.
  4. To make it easier to handle, cut the pepper into three-inch sections.
  5. One section at a time, slice the pepper piece into thin strips.
  6. To dice, slice your pepper into strips, then rotate them 90 degrees and repeat the same slicing motion.
  7. To julienne the pepper, remove most of the watery flesh from the thick outside wall before slicing it into 1/8-inch slices.

Onion: Diced

  1. With a chef’s knife, cut off both of the ends of the bulb, but only cut off the tip of the root end, identified by the small sprouts or “hairs.”
  2. Standing the onion on one of the flat ends, slice it in half lengthwise.
  3. Peel the onion skin and the first layer of the onion’s flesh away from both sides, using either a knife or your fingers.
  4. To dice, lay one half of the onion (flat side down) on the cutting board. With your knife parallel to the cutting board, run the knife through the onion, three or four times, creating multiple layers. Be sure not to go all the way through the onion, as leaving the stem intact will stabilize the onion for creating the next cuts.
  5. Rotate the onion 90° clockwise, with the cut end facing you. Cut vertical slices through the onion, again making sure not to slice all the way through the stem on the opposite end.
  6. Rotate the onion 90° counterclockwise, and slice through the onion, moving from one end to the other.

Cauliflower: Florets

  1. With a paring knife, trim the outside leaves from the stem.
  2. Remove the stem from the head of the cauliflower by pointing the paring knife in towards the center of the cauliflower, piercing the stem and working the knife around the circumference of the stem.
  3. Working in a circular fashion, cut large florets from the head by slicing through the individual “branches” within the “tree” of the cauliflower.
  4. Smaller-sized florets can be created by repeating this technique on the smaller stems within the large florets.

Ready to take your knife skills to the next level? Click here for free information about culinary career training at ICE.

 

By Carly DeFilippo, Culinary Arts Student

The first thing you learn in culinary school is that being a chef is far more complex than most people realize. From your white commis cap down to your stiff-toed shoes, everything is designed for safety, efficiency and cleanliness. In fact, sanitation is the first subject you’ll tackle, learning how factors from temperature to humidity, pH to protein content affect the safety of everything we cook. That may sound boring, but once you’ve studied the many ways improperly handled food can lead to illness, it’s pretty fascinating how rarely we all get sick!

Testing out my chef's coat for the first time and a few tools from my knife kit
Testing out my chef’s coat for the first time and a few tools from my knife kit

Beyond worrying about proper heating, refrigeration and cleanliness of the products you’ll serve your guests, you also need to learn how not to harm yourself in the kitchen. As culinary students, our tools are our trade, and we’re dealing on a daily basis with fire and knives.

In fact, it’s only when you receive your knife roll that being a “future chef” starts to sink in. Laser-sharp, these knives are our best friends and worst enemies. Ironically, the sharper the blade, the safer you are cutting up your mise en place or filleting a fish. But even the smallest knives have a big bite—I got my first culinary school cut by nicking my thumb with the tip of a paring knife. 

Medium dice carrots and my first culinary school cut

Medium dice carrots and my first culinary school cut

As our first hands-on knife skills challenge, Chef Michael Garrett taught us to wield our massive 10-inch Wusthof chef’s knives to break down oddly shaped carrots and potatoes into small, perfectly square, half-inch cubes—a process chefs call “medium dice”. It’s a frustrating skill to get the hang of, but as you go through the patient repetition of crafting each little square, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction to the process.

In addition to honing our knife skills, our first days include learning about raw ingredients. First up, herb identification. Have you ever tasted fresh marjoram or chervil? Even as an accomplished home cook, I hadn’t. But the most shocking herb to taste raw might just be oregano—it’s essentially a fuzzy fireball! From there we moved on to cheeses (which might be the most indulgent day in all of culinary school). From fresh ricotta and tangy buffalo mozzarella to creamy French explorateur and funkier chunks of pont-l’évêque or taleggio, we tasted flavors from all over the globe and still had only skimmed the surface of cheese world.

Herb identification

Herb identification

We also dove into oils and vinegars, tasting them on their own and experimenting with various vinaigrettes. We also learned to “emulsify” these concoctions, adding and whipping the oil gradually to create a thicker texture, somewhat similar to that of the salad dressing you buy in stores. Best of all, we learned to make the mother of all emulsions, mayonnaise, from scratch.

Chef Michael Garrett shows us how to make mayonnaise.

Chef Michael Garrett shows us how to make mayonnaise.

From the choice of our ingredients to the precision required for each preparation, our day-to-day work as culinary students is all about learning to be focused and to multi-task. We carefully craft dishes—sometimes in mere moments, sometimes over the span of many hours—that our guests will enjoy for just a few minutes. Everything is a balance of time and precision—do it fast, but do it right— and the line between success and failure is about as thin as it gets.

You would think it would take a very specific kind of person to do this job, but our class couldn’t be more diverse. From former marketing executives to recent high school graduates, medical professionals to fashion photographers—we all have the same passion. True, some of us will end up in restaurants, while others will work in food media, launch their own small businesses, or any number of possible futures. But we’re all here because we love working with our hands and learning to craft the only kind of “art” that humans can fully interact with: food.

By Carly DeFilippo

Jonathan Waxman, chef and owner of New York City’s Barbuto, has garnered many superlatives during his culinary career: “One of the country’s greatest chefs“, king of roast chicken and even “the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Top Chef Masters“. Monday night, Waxman shared one of his many talents – and favorite aspects of cooking – with ICE recreational students: butchery.

When we arrived at class, Waxman announced that we would be preparing proteins ranging from lamb to pheasant – but first, we went back to basics. “Jacques Pepin says the most important thing to learn is how to cook an omelet. I say it’s how to cut an onion”. Waxman explained that knives are shaped like a boat, which means we should chop using a gentle rocking motion. Our non-chopping hand should be shaped “like a crab”, walking delicately backwards as the knife approaches.

After reviewing the essential slippery onion, Waxman taught us how to debone striped bass (the bones in the fins are poisonous), a leg of lamb (cut away from the body), pheasant (avoid piercing the “oyster”) and that all-time classic, the chicken. Regardless of the protein, Chef Waxman insisted that it’s important to use your cutting hand to feel for the bones and joints (closing your eyes may help) before diving in with a knife. He also assured us, again and again, “these are unnatural movements”, and that even he has to remind himself to practice proper knife technique.

Yet one of the most memorable skills shared by Waxman didn’t even require a knife. He charged us with the task of sautéing pasta, a Ligurian technique that browns pasta before adding liquid, adding extra crunch and flavor to this essential Italian foodstuff.

Sauteed pasta with endives and jalapenos.

 


Yesterday ICE hosted a professional knife workshop with Norman Weinstein for students. He is a nationally known expert on the subject of knife skills and also author of the book, Mastering Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen.

In this class, students learned that good knives and impeccable skills are critical for all professional cooks and chefs. One of the main things communicated was that repetition and practice are at the heart of developing high-level knife skills. When asked what his number one knife tip was, Norman responded “use the right one!”

Students heading out on their externships and into the food business will be expected to have these skills so the room was packed with ICE students looking to sharpen their skills. For any students that missed this class, we have another coming up on September 14. Sign up here.