Shipping to
United States
Illustrations by Mr Joe McKendry

For anyone wanting to be a pro at this, you must practise until you are totally comfortable using knives. If you do it for long enough, you'll be able to chop with your eyes closed, scale thickness with the fingers of your left hand, and feel texture with your right. The key points to remember are pretty universal: use a good knife, slide smoothly, and use the whole section of the knife.

When I learnt my knife skills in Japan, I started with katsura-muki, one of the most difficult yet essential cutting techniques for professional Japanese chefs. It is used for making very thin ribbons of vegetables such as daikon (mooli radish). When I started learning culinary skills, I made sure to practise every night after I finished dinner service. Although I've been a chef for 20 years, I practise every day in order to maintain the sensitivity of my fingers and the condition of my knives.

Cheap equipment

Since kitchen knives will be an investment that are used daily, selecting good quality ones that are durable and that handle well is very important. Swedish steel is very good for knives.

A poor selection

Choosing the incorrect knife for a specific food just won't cut it.

Blunt instruments

Cutting with a dull knife is more dangerous than using a very sharp one - the knife can slip off the food rather than cut into it easily.

Being lazy

Practise makes perfect - the more you cut and chop, the better you'll become.

Sharing your tools

Sharing knives with the rest of your housemates or family is a mistake. Not only can they get lost or damaged, but different knife shapes suit different people. It is important to have a grip that fits comfortably in your hand.