Why Alton Brown Skips The Mandolin Hand Guard When Slicing Onions

Nobody knows their way around a kitchen quite like Alton Brown. With a decades-long career in the food industry, the "Iron Chef America" commentator and professional chef has picked up his fair share of hacks to make cooking more accessible and exciting (via Biography). Some of the tips and tricks that he is generous enough to share with us cookery amateurs are not what we would expect or ever think of doing ourselves. But there is a reason, after all, that his celebrity career has reached the level of stardom that it has: The man know's what he's doing.

In a video on his YouTube channel titled, "Pantry Raid: Onion Dip Edition," Brown shares an insider strategy he uses for cutting onions. As anyone with cooking experience knows, working with a mandolin, or any sharp edge, can lead to some serious accidents when precautions aren't taken. However, as Brown points out, there is a way to stay safe in the process without having to pull out extra safety equipment.

An alternative safety measure

As anyone with cooking experience knows, the best way to keep home cooking simple is to limit the amount of ingredients, dishes, and gadgets needed for prep. This way, the cleanup process at the end isn't nearly as time-consuming and deterring. Alton Brown expresses his support for this idea in his "Pantry Raid: Onion Dip Edition" video, in which he walks viewers through the preparation of his onion dip recipe. When slicing the onions, he uses a mandolin. 

When it comes to mandolins, most of us opt to use a hand guard to protect our most valuable cooking tools from getting cut by the fine blade of the instrument. Brown, however, skips the hand guard in the video. Instead of rummaging the drawers for the safety accessory, he holds the onion at its root, as far from the blade as possible, using the onion itself as a makeshift hand guard. Though this method works and his hands come out unscathed, he still advises viewers to be careful, and the video text still recommends using a hand guard when working with mandolins.

Whether you follow Brown move-for-move or stick to the standard safety protocol of using a hand guard, we advise that you tread in the kitchen with caution.