I recently had the fortunate opportunity to attend a knife skills class with the kind folks from Idaho Potato Commission and Sunday Supper Movement in Tampa, FL. I arrived early because it was a bit of a drive for me and to my surprise these goodies were waiting for me at my hands-on station. Next to my station was a container filled with peeled potatoes that I presumed we would be slicing and dicing and I was correct.
Once my colleagues arrived, no time was wasted in getting the event started. After brief introductions, Chef Chris called us around to watch his demonstration. First he showed us how NOT to hold a knife. (See photo) None of those examples give you control over the knife or keep you safe from cuts. The correct way to hold a knife is with your thumb and forefinger on either side of the blade, where the blade meets the handle. That’s the one thing I knew going into this class. From there, it was one major learning experience. Oh, I did know you are supposed to curl your fingers and have the blade touching your knuckles to slice but that ALWAYS scared me. But Chef Chris made us all try it and I must say…what a better way to slice a potato or onion. So much control when slicing and little fear of cutting myself. Since this is a new technique for me, which I have been using regularly since the event, slicing takes a bit more time than it used to because I’m being extra careful. I will say, my slices are far more even now utilizing this method. We were given Wusthof knives to use and they are my favorite. I’ve owned them for years, more than 20 actually, and won’t use anything else. Wusthof knives are perfect to hone your knife skills. I must say, this post contains affiliate links.
I recently sliced onions for a recipe and they were so even that my husband asked if I had used my mandoline. I replied I sliced by hand and he was majorly impressed. (So was I!) Once we learned the basics of slicing a potato and an onion, we moved on to dicing. Chef Chris demonstrates how to dice a potato in this photo. Notice how he has made smooth edges? By doing so, it keeps the potato from rolling around and makes uniform diced pieces.
Chef Chris couldn’t stress kitchen safety enough. In addition to teaching us how to properly hold a knife he reiterated that when walking through your kitchen with knife in hand, it should be held downward next to your leg. He didn’t only talk about knife safety. He reiterated what every food blogger should know about safe food handling. Things like washing your hands after handling raw meat of any kind – beef, chicken, seafood, pork. No cross-contamination like putting food on a board that just had raw meat on it. Other seemingly obvious safe food handling tips are don’t stick your finger in a dish to taste it, use a spoon. Don’t continue to wipe your hands on a dish towel or your apron. You will cross-contaminate. Wash your hands frequently. But probably most importantly – never, ever thaw anything, raw or cooked, on the counter at room temperature. Always thaw in the refrigerator. While I know this takes planning because some things will take longer to thaw than others, I’m sure no one wants a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor to get sick from careless food handling.
Now on to the rest of the day. After lunch, we were challenged to another #hashed competition. We had a number of ingredients to choose from but were required to use potatoes to make a version of potato salad. My teammates and I decided to do a sort of deconstructed potato salad. We scooped out the potato from the shell and took the shells to the oven to crisp. We mixed the potato with some potato we sliced including a mixture of mayonnaise, seasonings, Greek yogurt and linguça and served it in the crispy potato skins. My team was surprised to tie for first place! But, unfortunately, there could only be one winner because there was only one prize and it went to the other team. We were still pretty excited the judges enjoyed out creation.
All in all it was an amazing day with great people who have become friends through similar events. New friends were made as well who I hope to see at future events. A great big THANK YOU to Famous Idaho Potatoes and Sunday Supper Movement for spoiling me.