In anticipation of Taste of Tribeca*, the benefit for P.S. 234 and P.S. 150 on May 15, I’m asking the participating chefs for cooking tips. Russell Moss, Cafe 92YTribeca‘s chef, says that using a knife is like playing a violin: “It’s not an obvious skill.”
We do a lot of vegetarian cooking, and there are tons of vegetables in every style of cooking. Take something like beef stew, which has carrots, onions, celery, sometimes leeks. People who come to our classes say they don’t have time to cut all the vegetables, so they just do some of them. That won’t work—not for beef stew, not for braising, not for soups.
If you want to get better at chopping, the best thing is a little formal instruction, followed by a lot of practice. In our knife-skills class, I start by teaching proper hand and body position. Your legs should be spread a bit, then lean just slightly forward, and make sure the board is right in front of you. (It’s like tennis—you run, plant, and hit. You don’t run and hit.) Chopping is about transferring energy, which you want to do with maximum efficiency. Your upper arm should be vertical, at a right angle to the floor, and close against your body, almost at the hip. Your upper arm remains fairly still; instead, cut with your wrist and forearm. That’s the key. [As he explained this, Moss made short work of a golden beet, peeling and slicing into perfect little pieces.]
*Tickets are on sale now at tasteoftribeca.org. Buy before May 1 and you’ll get a discount.
Previous Taste of Tribeca Tips:
• Tip #1: Bake Beforehand (Rachel Thebault of Tribeca Treats)
• Tip #2: Method to the Mashedness (Henry Meer of City Hall)