The Chopping Block | Chicago

Learn all the knife tricks of the pros at The Chopping Block

It's one of those classes we all talk about but never actually take.

Yep, we're talking knife skills–the art of slicing and dicing like a chef.

The Chopping Block, Chicago's largest recreational cooking school, has been there to help for over a decade. The school now occupies two mega-sized stores, one in Lincoln Square and another at the Merchandise Mart. Their most popular course (no surprise) helps home cooks learn how to wield a knife.

We took the plunge and signed up. The class ($40) gives students a knife, a huge bowl of herbs and veggies and a friendly chef or two to show them how to mince. We were julienning in no time; never mind those first few onions we destroyed.

Slicing and dicing like a pro.

To learn how to cut up a carrot, take the class. But we've got some general knife tips perfect for any home cook, courtesy of chef-instructor Ron Martin.

1. Keep your knife really sharp. Buy the right sharpening tools or take it to a professional (we like Northwestern Cutlery).

2. Never put a knife in the dishwasher. It might cut you if you reach in without looking–and the detergent makes it duller.

3. Get a silicone mat and put it under the cutting board. That way, the board won't act like a Slip 'n' Slide.

4. If you're looking for a well-made knife at a reasonable price, go Japanese. Shun and Global are the The Chopping Block chefs' favorite brands.