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What are the names of ways to use a knife? “Top Chef” hypes brunoise

The seventh season of Bravo’s “Top Chef” has begun, and part of the first episode has already made a sharp impression. During the premiere Quickfire Challenge, which is a notoriously difficult test of adroitness and haste, the chef contestants (also known as “cheftestants”) had to cut 10 cups of onions into brunoise as fast as they could.

Brunoise is a way to dice food, usually vegetables. Many consider it to be one of the most challenging standard knife cuts.

The cut is a perfect cube that should measure 1/8” x 1/8” x 1/8”. Although that’s a tiny cut, recipes sometimes call for a fine brunoise, which is even smaller (1/16” x 1/16” x 1/16”). By comparison, the measurement for a medium dice of food is 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/2”.

The brunoise is tricky work, but when there is $20,000 on the line and you’re working with a razor-sharp blade, we truly are talking about a dicey situation.

Other common vegetable cuts include the julienne, which is a brunoise matchstick (1/8” x 1/8” x 2 1/2”). This cut is the best way to start brunoise. Larger matchsticks are allumette (1/4” x 1/4” x 2 1/2”) and batonett (1/2” x 1/2” x 2 1/2”). As you can probably now guess, the batonett is the starting point for a medium dice.

Fancy knife work is more than just for show. Vegetables cut at the same size will have uniform cooking times. If you’re in a rush and size does not matter, mince your food. This just means to cut an item in small pieces.

We could go on, but we don’t want to mince words …

9 Comments

  1. wolf tamer and coal miner -  February 9, 2014 - 9:38 pm

    Those are some very, very small pieces of onion.

    Reply
  2. Knife -  December 9, 2010 - 3:25 pm

    Thanks for the tips, it’s always good to know what we’re talking about when using knives.

    Reply
  3. cssawper -  September 24, 2010 - 9:43 pm

    Ohhh sounds like someone just got told!!!! OWNED!

    Reply
  4. “TOP CHEF” | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 18, 2010 - 10:25 am

    [...] always enjoyed cooking shows though we’ve never tuned into “TOP CHEF” — Hence we will not criticize — the competitive knifing is out of our depth. — [...]

    Reply
  5. cookysam -  June 19, 2010 - 8:16 am

    The person who wrote this should have done a little more research. Batonnet is actually 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 2 1/2.

    Reply
  6. Chefjlc -  June 18, 2010 - 9:48 pm

    Carrots are generally chopped for soup, but folks with knife skills will often slice the carrots into “rounds” or half moon shapes or even perfect cubes (dice)

    Reply
  7. Chefjlc -  June 18, 2010 - 9:42 pm

    @limerickmastr

    The words chop and slice do not refer to the size or shape of the food cut, but to the physical motions used to cut something.

    Chop is when you bring a blade straight down on an item usually with some force. Chopping is what you do when you want to cut something that is hard like chocolate or through a bone.Slicing is when you “rub” the entire length of the edge of a knife along the item you are cutting. Slicing is more precise, but is ineffective if you don’t have sharp knives.
    One of the marks of a professional cook is that they never chop vegetables or meat (anything soft),you can’t effectively dice near perfect cubes the same size by chopping.

    Professional slice nearly everything and usually without lifting the tip of the chef’s knife off the cutting board. Once learned correctly, this method is 1)very fast 2)very precise 3)knives stay sharper longer because your not banging the edge of the blade against the cutting board not mention it is quiet and doesn’t produce a lot of annoying and unnecessary noise. Commercial kitchens are loud enough and needless banging is to be discouraged.

    Reply
  8. limerickmastr -  June 18, 2010 - 5:37 pm

    So do words like chop and slice and dice mean something specific too? When I chop a carrot. Is there a shape or size that is definition of chop.

    Reply

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