Ask Chef Melinda 

Do you have questions for Chef Melinda? Submit questions about techniques, ingredients and recipe modifications to guide you in the cooking, baking and prep and they may be used in an upcoming column. 

Chef Melinda honed her skills as a chef and baker at the Scottsdale Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School and has worked at the Phoenician Resort, Simply Bread bakery and the Olive & Ivy restaurant. She has baked challah and other baked goods at the East Valley JCC’s Challah Factory since fall 2016. 

The EVJCC’s kitchen is under the kosher supervision of Rabbi Michael Beyo. 

What is the proper way to cut an onion? How do you hold a knife and chop so fast without injuring yourself? – Submitted by Erin

Chef Melinda’s answer

There are a few important points to remember when practicing your knife skills.

1.  First and foremost, sharp knife!  They’ll slice with greater ease, so you’ll be less prone to make a strong, forceful cut and possibly lose control.

2.  Keep the tips of your fingers out of the way.  The hand that is holding the object (let’s say your left) should have the fingertips curled under. It’s almost your fingernails holding on to the top of the object, and those top finger joints serve as a bumper or guide for your knife. In your right hand, keep the knife straight up and down and against your knuckles as you cut, and there won’t be a chance of nipping anything off, especially if the knife tip stays put on the cutting board and you rock the knife up and down.

3. Create stability in the object you’re cutting. (Rachel Ray talks about this in the video.) Round objects should first be halved then placed on your cutting board, flat side down. Rocking objects = unsafe.

These three tips will help ensure safety as you hone your knife skills. Take each cut slowly and deliberately and with lots of practice, your speed will increase!

Here is a short video from Rachel Ray showing how to chop an onion. She forgoes the extra step of slicing toward oneself – quick and easy!

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