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The Ultimate Guide to Holding & Using a Chef's Knife

22 Feb 2022, 5:29 PM

The Ultimate Guide To Holding & Using a Chef’s Knife

Good knife skills are essential for maintaining a safe and efficient kitchen. When purchasing catering equipment it is important to choose kitchen knives appropriate to the types of food and the preparation techniques that will be used regularly. It's also vital that staff have good knowledge of knife safety and are constantly working on their knife skills. In this article, we'll describe the correct way to use kitchen knives and share some essential knife safety advice.

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How to hold kitchen knives

Grip the knife by resting the thumb and index finger in a pinching position at the base of the blade. Next, wrap the other three fingers around the handle. This gives you full control of the knife. Any knife, no matter the shape and size, should be held in this manner.

Basic Cutting Technique

When you come to cutting food, you should position the food in the centre of the chopping board. A rocking motion should be used to slice through the food with the full length of the blade. Push the knife forwards in a downwards motion, then pull the knife backwards while raising the handle. The front portion of the blade should always remain in contact with the chopping board, simply gliding over the surface of it.

It's important to use your other hand as a guide for the knife and to keep the food you're cutting securely in place. Make a claw shape with this hand and place it over the food. Your fingertips should be tucked underneath so that they don't come into contact with the food. You should use your thumb for support, making sure it is positioned behind your fingers and not in front of them.

Run the blade of the knife alongside your fingers to slice through the food, using the whole length of the knife as you perform the rocking motion. You should move the knife across the food, rather than pushing the food toward the knife. The fingers, in the claw position, should move over the food as the knife creates slices along it.

The 'bridge' technique

When cutting large fruits and vegetables it can be helpful to first cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces. This has the added benefit of allowing you to create a flat surface on the vegetable which can give you greater stability when making finer cuts. The bridge technique is useful for cutting down large items.

Simply create a bridge over the food with your hand - fingers on one side and thumb on the other. Pick up the knife, taking care to ensure the blade is facing downwards. Guide the knife carefully under the bridge of your hand, press it down through the food then slide it back out.

Common types of cut

When first learning how to use a knife it is helpful to master the following common cuts:

  • Julienne

  • Thin batons measuring around 5cm x 3mm x 3mm

  • Dice - cubes of any size

  • Brunoise - fine cubes measuring 3mm x 3mm

  • Chiffonade - thin strips or ribbons, usually applicable to herbs

The importance of keeping kitchen knives sharp


In order to reduce the risk of accidents involving knives, all kitchen staff should adhere to the following safety tips:

  • Use a knife suitable for the food and style of cut

  • Maintain sharp knives

  • Cut on flat and stable surfaces

  • Carry knives with blades pointing downwards

  • Store knives securely, such as in a container or scabbard

  • Never carry a knife when carrying another object

  • Do not leave loose knives on worktops where they could be pushed off

  • If you see a knife falling, move away from it and do not try to catch it

  • Wear appropriate protective equipment where relevant

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