The importance of controlling a knife goes beyond showmanship and theatrics. A flashy cut does not guarantee the best final result, or safety for that matter.
All cuts should be clean and just that, cuts. Crushing the food will extract the juice and change the texture and overall appearance of the dish.
For this reason it is imperative to have the proper equipment: table, knife, and good light. Each type of ingredient has a knife specifically designed for the perfect cut.
Another thing to keep in mind is technique. This requires a good instructor and lots of practice.
First let’s focus on cutting styles for vegetables (potatoes, etc.). In many cases these cuts are also useful for other types of ingredients.
Allumette: This julienne-style cut creates very thin strip slices. Perfect for Golden Cod or garnishes, etc.
Chips: Finely cut slices.
Souflé: Although more popular in the past, it’s still wonderful to see this garnish, usually with roasted dishes. Cube the peeled potatoes, sweat or poach on low heat and later finish in hot oil at about 180 C.
Tourné: More than a cut, this gives shape to the vegetable.
Batonnet: A meticulous cut that creates sticks of uniform size.
Baton: A rougher and thicker cut than the Batonnet.
Spanish Cut: Thick potato slices, roughly 1 cm in width.
Cubed: This cut is used in potato dishes accompanied by a sauce: mayonnaise, garlic mayonnaise, brava sauce, etc.
Pont-neuf: The thickest and most common Spanish cut. Ideal for garnishes, in long, rectangular sticks.
Ruffle/Waffle: It is important to have a good grater available. This combines two cuts, after each turning the potato 90 degrees, after each forming a ruffle.
Noisette: Balls made with the help of a special spoon called a “baller” (also called a “melon-baller”). Very useful for potatoes and some fruits, like melon.
Wedge: A crude cut usually ending in the breaking of the potatoes during cooking, ideal for soups and stews.
Baker’s Cut: Thick slices intended for slow cooking or baked recipes.
Vichy: The ideal cut for longer vegetables like carrots, creating thicker and round slices.
Other popular cutting styles in the kitchen include:
Mirepoix: An irregular cut that doesn’t go for appearance, used in sauces, soups, etc.
Julienne: Creates long, very fine slices.
Brunoise: A fine dice-cut, small and uniform cubes, intended for stir-fry, soups, and garnishes.
Concasé: The same cut as the Brunoise, but specifically for peeled tomatoes.
Jardiniere: Cut into thicker strips or sticks.
Macedoine: This is a diced cube, larger than the Brunoise cut.
Chop: A finer and more irregular cut than the Brunoise. Usually intended for herbs.