Get the Knives Out...

Voodoo Knife Block (£74.99)

How often have you watched cookery programmes with just total exasperation at how quickly the likes of Jamie, Hugh, Nigella and Gordon all wield their knives? Until now I really didn’t understand how they didn’t (unlike me) manage to chop a nail - let alone a finger off? Well… guess what, since then I’ve discovered how... My friend Sherry rang me all excitedly to tell me about Divertimenti’sKnife Skills – Hands on Masterclass’. “Fabulous count me in” I squealed, I could hardly contain myself at the thought of being able to unravel the mysteries of professional knife chopping. On the appointed day we went to the Divertimenti Cookery SchoolHQ in Marylebone. We were given aprons, a small butcher block and a 9” Cooks knife that was as sharp, as sharp can be…Yes! Our teacher the lovely Gloria taught Sherry and I all sorts of clever tricks:

  • Always keep the tip of the blade down on the chopping board but lift at the ‘heel’ and rock the knife (especially when like me you are attempting to chop fast ;o))
  • If you are going to buy just ONE knife, it should be a 9” Cooks Knife. It’s the most  practical all round knife.
  • Make sure the stainless steel blade runs ALL the way through the knife and into the handle.
  • Never put your Cooks Knife in the dishwasher /always dry your knives properly.  Always keep the blade protected and store with a knife sheath on if loose in a drawer.
  • When purchasing your Cooks Knife, feel its weight and be careful to make sure there is moulded steel guard at the ‘heel’ i.e. the end of the handle/ beginning of the blade (Japanese knives sometimes don’t have this). Without this it’ll take your skin off!
  • Practise cutting something like Jeye cloth to test your knife for sharpness. When sharpening your knife start at the heel of the knife at the top, then slide all the way to the bottom and repeat.

A good example of a Cooks Knife: Henckels professional "S" Range Cooks Knife 26cm (31021-261) £89 from Cooks Knives Shop

Having mastered our chopping, dicing and slicing; we were put to work jointing a chicken. Gloria demonstrated this in seconds - Sherry and I laboured into minutes…and more minutes. However, I cannot begin to tell you all how (1) easy it is (after a bit of practise) and (2) how useful it is to be able to now utilise the whole chicken (especially when you own a Tibetan Spaniel who’s rather partial to a bit of fresh chicken!)  For inspiration, see this clever video below: [youtube=] All vegetables and chicken got used up and made into a delicious Genoese Vegetable Soup with Fresh Mint Pesto and Grilled Chicken with Soy and Chilli Glaze, which we all sat down and ate after class - yum! For details of the ‘Knife Skills – Hands on Masterclass’ and many other cookery courses please go to Divertimenti Cookery School All students receive a 10% discount on any purchases made at Divertimenti including cookery classes for up to a week after attending. NB: Sometimes there are special offers, if you book more than one class. E.W