Kitchen Knife Skills – Dice Celery

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 28,554
    Chef de Cuisine Chris Clime demonstrates some basic knife skills and shows how to dice celery.

    Chris Clime

    When you’ve mastered Caesar Salad by the age of nine, where else is there to go but into a culinary career? Christopher Clime followed his destiny, and he now finds himself perched at the top of one of the hottest restaurants in town. As Chef de Cuisine at Acadiana, the newest sister restaurant of the popular DC Coast, TenPenh, and Ceiba restaurants in Washington, Clime brings his version of Louisiana-inspired cuisine to the nation’s capital, which he calls home. And make no mistake: home is an important word to Christopher Clime. Clime had a colorful childhood in northern Virginia and in Puerto Rico, where his father was Commanding Officer at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. No matter where they lived, the Climes were always entertaining – their guests often high-ranking dignitaries – and for the Clime family, entertaining was always a family affair. Graduating at 17, Clime headed straight for Providence, Rhode Island, and Johnson & Wales University. Following his New England training, Clime stayed focused on the South. Post-graduation opportunities were waiting in Charleston, South Carolina, at the very exclusive five-diamond Woodlands Resort, where Clime served as chef de partie, a job he describes as “basically, a jack-of-all-trades.” His six years in Charleston gave him a solid grounding in the techniques, traditions, and flavors of southern cooking. It also brought him to the attention of a major corporation that brings him to Augusta, Georgia as a private chef for its executives and guests at The Masters Golf Tournament, an opportunity he still looks forward to every year, serving lavish banquets often based on Low Country cuisine. But while things were going well and he was receiving rave reviews in Charleston, Christopher Clime’s future suddenly had to be put on hold; his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had him return immediately home to Virgina. Needing a distraction at one point, he brought his application to Jeff Tunks at DC Coast, and was immediately hired as a tournant (“basically, another jack-of-all-trades position, a kind of substitute Sous Chef”), which suited Clime’s schedule well. After a year of constant dedication to his mother’s care, Clime was ready to take on more responsibility. Clime forged ahead at DC Coast and then at TenPenh, which provided a creative outlet for this young man during a trying time in his life. All the while, Tunks and his team were already planning the third jewel in their crown, and Clime was the logical candidate for Chef de Cuisine. Clime’s youth in Puerto Rico had imbued him with an inherent sense of Latin cuisine. Two years later, Tunks and his partners were set to open Acadiana, a fourth restaurant that would draw its inspiration from the rich culinary tradition of southern Louisiana. Tunks had spent four years in New Orleans, and knew just what he wanted the restaurant to be. He also knew just what he was looking for in a Chef de Cuisine, and again tapped Christopher Clime. Clime explains that authentic Louisiana cooking is what they serve at Acadiana, but with a contemporary, urban approach for their Washington clientele. “We peel the shrimp for you, but flavor it with the same delicate combination of Creole seasonings we found again and again in rural Louisiana – paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper.” Acadiana is enjoying unprecedented popularity, and already, in November 2006, Christopher Clime has been named one of Washington’s Top Ten Hottest Chefs by DC Style magazine. Has it gone to his head? Not at all: he’s found the ideal balance – his beloved southern cooking, right here at home.

    Chris Klien: Hello! My name is Chris Klien, I am the Chef de Cuisine of Acadiana Restaurant, Washington DC, the heart of the Penn Quarter, doing some basic knife skills today. We are going to show you how to do a medium dice of celery. First of all you need a celery stalk I have already cut it in half. I have trimmed the leaves, you see over here I have some celery. What we have done is, we have removed the leaves here, we have trimmed the tops, we have then washed the celery of course and then I have cut in half to make it more manageable. It makes it easier to manage, we cut in half. When you are dicing longer things, it is hard to get control of it. We are going to start off. We are going to take this one piece of celery so it is very I can see rocks a lot, we done want to cut ourselves. We are going to go ahead and cut in half. If we cut in half in here, we already got a pretty think flay, it is about a quarter of an inch maybe. So, that is probably what we are going to do for a medium dice, quarter of an inch.

    So, we are going to go ahead and do a julienne. Now, we are going to start off with a strip here and we are going to cut three. So, it is going to rocking a little bit because I have a big piece of celery right here. So, if you are not really comfortable with that what I mean is just take it down and cut it one more time in half, that way we can cut it in half and we can work a little bit easier. We can go ahead and make the same cuts, equal in size and put them over there and as you can see, we have the exact same thing. We have cut this into a like double julienne almost. This is a quarter of an inch cut, slices we have cut the flays, we have come down, we made our incision down and we can manipulate more by cutting it in half, so you dont have to worry about the knife rocking.

    We are now going to do the dice. We are going to take these, these sticks here and we are going to cut just like that and then we are going to make sure that we cut the same ones, so take in the knife and squaring them up, make sure that we cut the exact same way. So, there we go, one more cut then we will finish it up.

    Now, if you want a very perfect medium dice that is what it is and you get rid of the other pieces to the side. What we are going to do now is, we go ahead and take the larger once, which you can use as well so say you didnt want to do the medium and cut in half, or you have the same thing. And then all I have to do is slice down. Here we have medium dice of celery.

    Now, we are going to show you how to clean corn.