The Cutting Edge: Understanding the Different Cutting Styles

10th May 2016

Photo by Benjamin Faust

Photo by Benjamin Faust

What are the different cuts that a chef must know?

  1. The Julienne
  2. The Brunoise
  3. The Batonette
  4. The Chiffonade
  5. The Baton
  6. The Small Dice
  7. The Medium Dice
  8. The Large Dice

One of the most important things a chef must first understand is the concept of different cuts. Every ingredient in a Chef’s arsenal must be cut accordingly. It can also be argued that a Chef’s cutting skills can directly impact how the dish will turn out. This much is true for the most successful restaurant in Europe as much as it is true for quality catering in Manila.

The Basics

One of the most basic things a chef should master is determining which cut to use, how to use it, and when to use it. People who have cooked for a long time understand the fact that the cut they use will determine the accuracy or faithfulness of the dish to the recipe. It affects the taste, consistency, and aesthetics of the dish, as well as its overall presentation. In cooking, aesthetic is just as important as the taste. Studies have shown that people are more likely to enjoy a dish based on its presentation. This isn’t to say that people are, by nature, picky eaters; In fact, the most passionate foodies are the type of people who know that they deserve only the very best from the most passionate chefs. Such is the case with Juan Carlo’s dedicated staff who continuously improves their skills with the latest and the greatest in cooking techniques.

Tools of the Trade

A great thing that a chef should remember is how important their tools are. A blunt and rusty knife will most definitely produce inferior cuts as well as run the risk of infecting the people who consume food produced by said knife. A good chef should always keep their tools in optimal condition. It can also be argued that the state of a chef’s tools reflect on their personality and approach when it comes to cooking and ultimately, their skills in its entirety.

The Importance of Squared Off Ingredients

Mastering each of the basic cuts requires the Chef to understand the importance of squaring their ingredients. The foundation of each and every cut on this list lies with squaring the ingredients and then preparing them according to what cut they should be.

 In order to explain how to do this, an example must be used in the form of a carrot. To start the process, the carrot skin must be peeled and the end must be cut off. Then, it must be sliced into segmented lengths of 4cm thickness. With each segment, one end must be sliced in order to produce a flat surface. Lay this surface face down to continue the process for the other ends to flat surfaces on all sides. The result should be a 3-dimensional rectangle. With this squared off carrot as an imaginary example, all the cuts below can be explained:

The Cuts

There are many different styles of cutting that a chef should remember and here are some of them:

The Julienne 

The Julienne cut is essentially done by cutting your ingredients into stick shapes and they are usually very thin. This is best done for ingredients that are used as a base for various sauces such as for sweet and sour pork.

In order to achieve this cut, it starts with cutting an item into a square. Then, it is cut length-wise with each cut only being 1-2mm thick (or 1/16 in); creating multiple thin, rectangular slices. These will then, in turn, also be cut the same way to end up with slices that resemble a group of matchsticks.

The Brunoise

Simply put, the Brunoise dice is the smallest dice that a chef can produce. The procedure for producing the Brunoise dice is quite similar to making the Julienne cut, except dicing them at the end of the process. Chefs do this by taking their Julienne cuts, bunching it up in their hand, then cutting them length wise which creates the dices of the carrot. Although this seems like a simple process to learn, it is difficult to master because the ideal Brunoise Dice cut is one that has perfect and equal dices.

The Batonnet

By this point you, our reader, will start to notice a pattern: the different cuts use a combination or variation of the basic ones. The Batonnet cut is essentially the Julienne cut except that it is significantly thicker; 6cm thick to be exact.

The Batonnet is done to add depth to a somewhat “flatter” sort of dish as well increasing the flavor of the vegetable. Also, it is used to make a dish appear to be taller, especially when serving a dish that is particularly large. This provides a linear appeal to a customer. It is because of this cut that one will usually see this as a requirement in many recipes in cookbooks.

The Chiffonade

This cut is especially suited for thinner ingredients such as herbs and spices. Unlike the other cuts on the list, the Chiffonade is almost exclusively used for vegetables and not meat; the imaginary example of a carrot, however, is not applicable to this.

The process of this is simple; it first involves stacking the herbs and vegetables to be used. Then, it is rolled like how one would roll a cigar. Once it is rolled, one can begin slicing it just like meat. This produces a nice chiffonade cut for the herbs which is best used for garnishing.

The Baton

This is the largest cut in the Chef’s arsenal (at 12mm thickness) and it is usually used for presentation purposes and crudites. While it is not common, it is necessary to know because it is needed to create Large Dice.

The Small Dice

This is exactly like the Brunoise except it has larger dices. To do this, chefs create thicker Julienne cuts to their carrots; these should be 3mm thick instead of 1-2mm. Applying the Brunoise to these Juliennes will create bigger dices.

The Medium Dice

This is basically applying the Brunoise to the Batonnet which will produce even larger cubes than the small dice. Thus, the name: Medium dice. The result of this should be 6mm cubes of carrots.

The Large Dice

Following the pattern, this is just the Baton with the Brunoise cut applied; creating 12mm cubes. This cut is usually used in stews and long-cooking dishes. It can really bring great presence to a dish and really makes it look professional.

Key Takeaway

In conclusion, cutting is a skill that every chef should endeavor to master, whether or not they cook as a hobby or professionally. At the end of the day, what every person who loves to cook strives for is one thing: Satisfying the people who eat their food.

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