When you are ready, go slowly, remaining focused, as you separate your product into segments and remove the rounded sides to make it easier to work with. We want a squared shape so it is important to keep your knife perpendicular to the product being cut.
Exercise 2: Squaring Off
Beginner Lessons > Basic Knife Skills > The Cuts Matrix™ > Squaring Off
Exercise Checklist:
Recommended Pre-requisites
Basic Knife Skills-Topic 4: Knife Handling- Exercise 2: How to Hold your Knife & The Rock Technique
  • 12 Large Peeled Carrots
Tools & Equipment
  • Cutting Board
  • Kitchen Bowl
  • Chef's Knife
  • Kitchen Towel
Estimated Time
1-2 Minutes per Carrot
4-6 Squared Off Carrots

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Exercise 2: Squaring Off


Squaring Off (“parer” is the French term) is the first step for creating most of the classic cuts in The Cuts Matrix™. It is a concept that often elicits an emphatic “duh” from new chefs. Especially from new chefs who have spent years literally chasing their naturally round-shaped product across their cutting boards.

Squaring Off is a prerequisite step in The Cuts Matrix™ achieved by cutting off the rounded sides off of the product and leaving (most often) a two inch (2” or 5 CM) portion with which to make your derivative cut “Planks” (classically “Tranches”) which in turn can be cut down into, rectangular “Logs” of various thicknesses such as Bâtonnet, Alumette, or Julienne

The first step in squaring off is to cut your product into roughly 2 to 2 ½ inch segments. In the classic kitchen, this segmentation step is called tronçonner. Once in segments, the rounded sides are removed with a perpendicular knife cut, leaving a square sided product that is ready to be cut further into the classic log or cube shapes.  

It’s important to monitor the angle of your knife in relation to the cutting surface – this should be a completely perpendicular, 90º angle. The best way to ensure the proper angle is to cut with your head directly over the cutting surface and product. So it’s best to use a high table or counter to cut on – otherwise you may prompt an aching back in as little as a few minutes.

Assuming that you have some peeled product ready from Topic 5, and if you are ready to practice some Squaring Off, in anticipation of creating various end cuts later in this Lesson, set up your cutting board on a towel as discussed previously. Once set, take your knife, preferably a Chef’s Knife, and focus on the safety lessons learned in How to Hold Your Knife. If you are not comfortable with how to hold your knife, review How to Hold Your Knife again until you are. 

When you are ready, go slowly and remain focused as you Square Off your peeled product by cutting the Carrot into two inch (2”) long sections (Tronçonner) and then squaring them off (Parer). How was that? Is your product square? Does it resemble the product in the video? If it does, we are ready for Exercise 3: The Classic Cuts