Holding Your Knife and The Rock Cut
Exercise Checklist:
Estimated Time
1-3 minutes
3 Cut Zucchinis
  • 3 Zucchinis
Tools & Equipment
  • Chefs Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Kitchen Towel
Holding the Knife Correctly Sets Up Your Success. The Rock technique cuts with a rocking motion without leaving the cutting board. Mind your Hand Form.

Okay, now we have come to the part of the lesson where we are working with your knife. For this topic, any quality culinary knife will do, although a Chef’s Knife is recommended.

We define cutting, as the way in which the knife blade moves over and through the product. In Basic Knife Skills we will discuss two of the fundamental knife techniques: The Rock Cut and The Slice. There is a third fundamental method of moving a knife over and through called The Chop, but we won’t cover it yet, because it requires a bit more concentration and practice. We will cover The Chop in Lesson 12: Intermediate Knife Skills, Topic 3: Further Cuts, Exercise 5: Chopping. A secondary knife skill, The Trim, is often used in food preparation like peeling Onions.

In the Instructional video, Teaching Chef, Smart Kitchen’s chef instructor, describes the proper technique for holding a Chef’s Knife and how to perform The Rock method of cutting product. As we mentioned in The Introduction to the Culinary Arts, our suggested approach to digesting the culinary material is "Preview", "Process", "Practice"™ which specifically means in this Exercise 2 to "Preview" the instructional video and then "Process" the technique or information mentally before "Practicing" it. To avoid injury, please pay scrupulous attention to the video and the techniques imparted by Teaching Chef.

Let’s review the highlights of Teaching Chef’s lesson. Mind the shape and placement of both your hands; what we call "Hand Form."

Holding the Knife

Hold the Knife with a firm but relaxed grip. In a long preparation, you may be holding it a while. Resist the temptation to extend your index finger along the spine of your knife. Extending your index finger results in a lack of control of the angles at which you work and impacts your future knife speed. When using The Rock method, it should not make much noise as the tip of the knife blade should always be in contact with the cutting board. The Rock Method is named for the rocking motion that you achieve as you repeatedly push the knife's cutting edge (near mid-point to near the heel), down and forward through the product.

The Guiding Hand

For the Guiding Hand, do practice "The Claw," or holding the item to be cut with your fingertips tucked under your palm. Leave your middle knuckle out as a guide, just pressed against the flat of the knife at all times. The speed at which your guiding hand retreats, in conjunction with your knife cuts, determines the size of the end product. It helps us to think of the knife “chasing the product” down the product’s length. If you are not sure you have it down, play the video again and watch Teaching Chef demonstrate it.

When you "Practice" start slowly and Safely. Speed and precision will come with time and repeated use. As the Teaching Chef says, there is no beauty prize for a missing finger. Do you have a feel for it?