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Tuesday April 18 / 06 - Executive Chef Susie Reading does a Brunoise cut of a red pepper with her 8" Contemporary Chef's Knife at the Calphalon Culinary Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo By Deborah Baic The Globe and Mail 18/04/06 (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Tuesday April 18 / 06 - Executive Chef Susie Reading does a Brunoise cut of a red pepper with her 8" Contemporary Chef's Knife at the Calphalon Culinary Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo By Deborah Baic The Globe and Mail 18/04/06 (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Do you think there's value in taking a knife-skills class? Add to ...

Do you think there's value in taking a knife-skills class? I'm not a chef or anything, but I sometimes wonder if I could be more fancy or efficient in the kitchen.

Knife skills is the most valuable cooking class you can take. Here's the thing: Just about everything you need to know to be a good cook, from making stocks and sauces to sous-viding musk ox eyelids, you can learn from reading cookbooks and paying close attention when you eat out.

But knife skills are best learned hands on, with a pro standing nearby; they're also one of the most critical (and frequently overlooked) foundations of being a great home cook. A good class will teach you how to choose, sharpen, hold and use a knife properly; it'll make you a better, faster, more confident and, frankly, ravishingly sexy cook overnight.

They're cheap, too: Most culinary schools and better cookbook sellers offer them for under $100; Toronto's The Cookbook Store offers two-hour sessions with chef Martin Kouprie for just $15. But the best part? No more unsightly spurting dinner-party wounds or blood in your mashed potatoes. If that isn't "value," I just don't know what is.

Chris Nuttall-Smith is a food writer and restaurant columnist. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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Follow on Twitter: @cnutsmith

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