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I remember when I was young, well before I was a Chef, watching cooking shows and being amazed at their knife skills. They could cut up an onion into perfect sized uniform pieces in the time it would take my mother to peel an onion. I’m sure (unconsciously of course), those cool TV Chefs were ultimately part of the overall motivation for my becoming a Chef much later in life.



  1. Some people prefer a larger knife others a smaller one, choose a knife that matches or is between the dimensions mentioned above.
  2. Next thing to do is to ensure that you always hold the food you’re cutting with your finger tips curled slightly under.
  3. In doing this you will find that your fingers will create an automatic guide for your knife to follow and it also keeps your finger tips out of harms way. This may feel slightly uncomfortable but it is the single most important tip to practice to improve your knife skills.
  4. Start out very slow, it may take weeks for you to get used to holding your foods this way but stick with it and your speed and skill will improve.

Dicing Carrot:

  1. Peel the carrot and cut it in half or 3rds (approx 7cm or 3 inch lengths)
  2. Stand one piece on end its wider end and cut it into four or five even slices top to bottom.
  3. Take half the slices and lay them on top of one another and hold firmly with finger tips curled under.
  4. Guide the face of the knife along those fingers and cut the carrots into batons the same width as the slices are thick.
  5. Once the carrots are cut into batons, group the batons together and hold them firmly with your finger tips curled under and the face of the knife then guided along those fingers.
  6. Roll the knife back and forth on the front half of the blade while chopping with the back half of the blade.
  7. This sample was using a carrot but the same principle applies when cutting virtually anything, (except onions).

Dicing Onion:

  1. Peel it first, then insuring that you maintain the tucked fingertips every time you cut. Cut the pointy end off and set aside.
  2. Place the onion on the now flat side and cut it in half down the centre.
  3. Then take each half, lay it flat and make 3-4 incisions horizontally almost all the way through to the base.
  4. Then make 4 incisions from the round top to the flat bottom, but do not make the incisions all the way to the back.
  5. The idea is to have the onion cut into a grid pattern from the end grain but still held together at the base.
  6. Now just like when you cut the carrot, run the knife across the grain and the onion should fall into a nice dice cut on the other side of the knife.
  7. The very base of the onion will not be used as dice but can be used for stock, along with the tip.

Paul Hegeman

Paul is a personal Chef to exclusive Sydney clients and is also our most frequently contributing writer. Paul was born in The Netherlands and moved to Canada at a very young age. Experience with traditional European meals at home and the diverse multicultural influence of foods in Canada gave Paul a great appreciation for different culinary styles. Over the years Paul traveled extensively and worked at every level of professional kitchens, from the deep fryer in the local burger joint, to the Head Chef in Five Star Hotels. He now resides full time in Sydney, Australia with his wife and their children. You will find his recipes emphasize natural, uncomplicated flavours and fresh ingredients such as those found in Mediterranean and South East Asian cuisines.

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Cajun Scotch Fillet
Cajun Scotch Fillet

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