During my last visit to Cookshop Plus – the lovely all purpose cooking store located in West Hartford – I signed up for their mailing list to keep up to date future events and specials.
So when I received an e mail a couple of months ago, announcing a Knife Skills Academy Class hosted by Chef Michael of Wusthof I signed myself and Mark up immediately.
We both love to cook, but knife skills are not our strong suit, so this was the perfect class for us. It was also great that the class was on a Friday evening – a great start to our date night!
Mark and I arrived and headed to the demonstration area in the back of Cookshop Plus. We each claimed a station, that were each set up with several knives (chef, Santoku, and paring) as well as several food items for practice.
The class was great, enlightening and very hands on.
The first part of the class was spent not only learning about the history of Wusthof, still a family owned and operated company that was founded in 1814, but about the different knife edges (straight, hollow, serrated and reverse scallop) that make up the Wusthof collection.
After our brief history lesson, we were taught the most basic skill, how to hold a knife. After the lesson, I finally realized that I had been holding the knife totally wrong for all of my adult life. I normally just grab the handle and start slicing away, but Chef Michael taught us that the thumb and the index finger clasp the blade on the left and right allowing for a more controlled and precision cut. And you know what – after testing this new “grip” on the food available it made such a difference.
As we learned how to slice, dice and julienne a variety of items, myself and Mark became “pros” (at least in our eyes). It’s amazing what such a slight change can do. From celery, to peppers to onions we made a beautiful mess at each of our stations. Then, just when we thought we could not get any more cool, Chef Michael told us we were going to use our paring knives to make tomato roses.
It’s much tougher than it looks, but again, by holding the knife correctly, I produced an “acceptable rose (as long as you did not get too close). Kudos to Mark – his rose looked much better and I joked that I expect a tomato rose with all the meals he cooks me from now on.
We also made some cute radish mice.
Mark’s favorite part of the class was to learn how to hone (re-aligning the microscopic teeth in the blade) and sharpen knives using a steel. I have never been good at sharpening knives. Honestly, I leave that to Mark as I am always afraid of not getting the “angle” right, so this part of the class re-affirmed the fact that Mark will continue to be the master knife sharpener.
This was a great class! I never felt like we were being sold anything (although Cookshop Plus DOES sharpen knives) and I really learned a lot from Chef Michael whom was great with all the participants. He was very knowledgeable and his demonstrations were easy to follow. He was a great teacher – even making a little dessert before the end of class (although not before showing us how to cut a pineapple – a picture of which I forgot to take.
Thanks to Cookshop Plus in West Hartford for putting on this great class. I still have my eye on that 8″ Offset Deli Knife.
Check out the Facebook page for Cookshop Plus and sign up for their mailing list to keep up to date on any future classes and happenings in the store.