Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christmas - One More Time

A lot of people don't like January, but I do. After the holidays, it's good to have a month to unwind, relax a little, do whatever I can to stay cozy, and just enjoy a little down time. By the time February rolls around, it's easy to get sick of winter. And March. Forget about it. By then it seems as if spring will never come. It always does, but in March, except for ice cream day, spring is usually a fleeting memory. But tonight - a bitter cold evening in the middle of January - felt more like being back in December because we had our office Christmas party!

Walter, Jordan, Nick and I left work early and started out with soup dumplings at Grand Sichuan International. (Of course we had more than soup dumplings, but they were the highlight since Jordan and Nick had never had them before.) Then we walked over to the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump's) on West 23rd Street for the main event - an introductory course in Knife Skills taught by the effervescent Norman Weinstein.

The class was lots of fun and extremely enlightening. I think anyone in the New York City area with a keen interest in cooking should take it. (If you can't, do the next best thing and get this.) Norman Weinstein is energetic and engaging. The class, Knife Skills 1, is hand's on, fast paced, and comprehensive as far as it goes. And if you want to go further, you can take Knife Skills 2, 3, and 4. Tonight we learned the correct terminology for the parts of the knife and the basic uses of a chef's knife, a 6-inch utility knife (a knife I never think to use, which turns out to be a nifty tool), and a 3-1/2 inch paring knife.

The big surprise of the evening was that from the smallest person in the class (me) to the largest person in the class (Jonathan), everyone's favorite knife turned out to be the 10-inch wide chef's knife in the Wüsthof Classic series.

It was startling to see how much easier the tasks were performed with this knife compared with both the 8-inch chef's knife and the regular (not wide) 10-inch. And it's beautiful. John Pawson, the minimalist English architect who designed the Calvin Klein flagship store in NYC as well as the Ian Schrager residential development, 50 Gramercy North, at the Gramercy Park Hotel, in his great book Living and Eating says "The outline of the traditional riveted handle [on the Wüsthof Classic line] has not to date been improved."

Like most of us who love to cook at home, I have amassed a large collection of knives, including Henckles, Global, Messermeister, F. Dick, and even two carbon steel Sabatier knives, but I always find myself reaching for the Wüsthof Classic chef's knife. The only thing different now that I've taken this class is that I'll be picking up a much larger knife. We ended the evening by getting our Christmas presents - the 10-inch wide chef's knife.

I'm going to go now and sign up for Knife Skills 2.


  1. What a FANTASTIC office party!!! Jealous.

  2. I am a bit jealous of your knife class. I use the same two knives for everything. I get by, but would love to know what all those knives are for.

  3. Isn't Norman the best? Loved that class. I bought Ben the 10-inch wide knife for his birthday a few years ago.


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