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Knife Skills Illustrated: A User's Manual Hardcover – August 17, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393061787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393061789
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Hertzmann has taught knife skills and cooking at Sur La Table as well as privately in both France and the United States. He also authors the e-zine à la carte. He lives in Palo Alto, California.

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Customer Reviews

Does not show or tell you how to master different knifes for different cuts.
Susen Jackson
First, there is only half as much useful content in this book as there should be because each section is repeated for left- and right-handed techniques.
Omega
This book is truly indispensable to those who wish to hone their skills in the kitchen.
Bruce Harrington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on March 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
`Knife Skills Illustrated' by cooking instructor, Peter Hertzmann, is eminently subtitled, `A User's Manual', as one could wish that such a book actually accompanied your one thousand dollar plus set of French, German, or Japanese knife sets, except that Professor Hertzmann makes the excellent case, along with almost everyone else who covers the subject, that you only really need three knife styles, the chef's knife, a pruning knife, and a serrated slicing knife.
Before buying this book, one must consider another volume, `The Professional Chef's Knife Kit' prepared by The Culinary Institute of America. The book has only 3/5 the pages of Hertzmann's volume, and costs five more dollars, list price, but it actually covers far more ground and may actually be preferable to Hertzmann if you already know your way around a chef's knife and cutting board.
Hertzmann's book is truly for the inexperienced amateur, in that he covers only the most basic techniques; however, he does this very, very well. Two aspects of the book may leave the professional or skilled amateur a bit impatient. The first is that all techniques are fully illustrated from the point of view of both a right-handed and a left-handed person. Thus, a lion's share of the book's 256 pages duplicate information. The second is that the sections on preparing vegetables often repeat the same techniques for produce where the methods are very similar, as with an onion and a shallot or a turnip and a potato.
This said, all the instruction Hertzmann gives us is very, very good. Coverage includes all the usual subjects, such as how to hone a knife, how to wash and store knives, how to use, wash, and care for cutting boards, and how to hold and handle knives safely.
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77 of 91 people found the following review helpful By HugeStakkaBoFan VINE VOICE on August 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to know the proper Frenchy way to cut a given food item, this book is for you. Do be aware however that there are other disciplines of knife use out there, and the French way isn't necessarily always the best way for everyone. It's probably better than the Rachael Ray way, but what isn't?

My chief complaint about this book is its organization. Left handed instructions are interspersed with the right handed instructions, and while this may be the socially conscious thing to do so as to make lefties feel they're part of the family, it's really, really annoying when you're trying to find a specific section. Say you're flipping through looking up shallot dicing; you'll see the pictures of the shallots, then you'll see the section on dicing, and you'll start reading, and then half a paragraph through you'll realize you're reading the version for the wrong hand. Then you'll have to flip back and forth looking for the same set of instructions for the other hand. What would have made infinitely more sense would be to divide the book into two clear sections so no one would be confused.

My second complaint is that the illustrations seldom show any hands. Hands are difficult to draw accurately and including them probably would have delayed publication significantly, but come on, they're important. If you're going to be encouraging people to take horizontal swipes at a peeled onion with an extremely sharp knife, you need to show them where their hands need to be. Not tell, SHOW.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Mcgiboney on October 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found this book quite by accident in Las Vegas. It is extremely well illustrated with step by step demonstrations of professional culinary knife skills. I have reccomended it as a "Must Have" for culinary students. It serves an an excellent resource for the best and proper ways to peel, carve, trim, and accomplishcut the standard professional knife cuts for most any food item. It would be a daily use reference for any cook
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Doc Holliday on January 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book and continue to refer back to it. The author wrote the book so that people who attend his classes or workshops could have a reference book to return to when their memories failed them. After twenty-five years of instruction with Asian knives, he discovered the qualities of the French Chef knife and didn't look back. Typically, people in the West travel in the other direction, so I think the approach by this author really helps those of us trying to improve our basic knife skills in the kitchen, without getting caught up in the current, popular fads of unnecessary knife sets and much wasted expense. Though, I thought the book's illustrations to be well done, I did find the "two-color" illustrations referred to in the book description, somewhat misleading, and should have read "two-tone" illustrations, instead. The quality of the book (printing and binding) is excellent, and something to keep on the shelf or share with others for a long-time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. McKim on November 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book has 235 pages of information, approximately 100 of which are unnecessary. Call out to Maria Guaranaschelli, editor: "Dominant hand" and "Non-dominant hand"

You did not need to repeat every paragraph, every page, word for word, just so that you could write 'right hand' in one and 'left hand' in the other.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Edwards on April 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Imagine reading a book review that periodically stopped for a left-handed version.

Left-handed version:
.noisrev dednah-tfel a rof deppots yllacidoirep taht weiver koob a gnidaer enigamI

How useful was that? Of course you may be left-handed (or an Arabic speaker) and having the exact same information rehashed backwards might be somewhat helpful. But for those of us who are either right-handed and/or able to pretty effortlessly transpose "left" for "right" in some text, well it basically means double the book with no extra value. That's double the paper, the weight, the printing expense, etc. Nothing against lefties here, but if it were so critical to avoid confusion for left-handed readers, then maybe a separate book should have been made.

I picked up this book because I believe knife skills are critical to good cooking. Good knife skills are central to inexpensive, delicious, and healthy food. Good knife work is also important for presentation which goes a long way in selling the meal.

I figured that if there was a whole book on how to cut things, it must be filled with a very comprehensive catalog of all known and interesting techniques. What I found was a random selection of produce with hand drawn illustrations on how one normally cuts it up. If you're having trouble with that, maybe this book is going to be useful. For me, however, almost none of the techniques were improvements on ones I've thought up myself.

The drawings were excellent, but I have to wonder if a different format wouldn't have been better. For example, the monochrome drawings don't clearly distinguish a colorful fruit from the silver knife.

The sections on knives was ok, but not especially comprehensive and sometimes not even clear.
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