Kitchen Knife Skills – Fillet a Pepper

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 27,600
    Chef de Cuisine Chris Clime demonstrates some basic knife skills and shows how to fillet a pepper.

    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, doing basic knife skills. Today, we are going to show you how to flay a pepper. First, this is a red Holland pepper or a red bell pepper if you will. A flay is basically cutting it off from the seeds or the stem. First, when you get a pepper you want to make sure it is washed thoroughly. You need a French knife, you need a cutting board and you need hand towel or something to wipe your board clean and a container to put the final product in. Basically what we are doing to do is, we are dong to take this pepper and we are going to take off the flay. You want to make sure that you kind of got a good balance to it. You dont want things to rock, so dont cut yourself. So, here we will cut this off and we will flay the bottom off that will be considered a flay. You put this down there like that now it is steady; we dont have to worry about any rock, anything like that. So, we are going to go ahead down and we are going to flay it right off of the pith, so there is not much piths on there and that is white and they are seeds.

    Now, it is even easier to work with, because you have got a steady surface, you have your knife here in your hands and you are going to go head and cut down, flaying off the other flay. Next, you have the seeds here, so basically you dont want the seeds that is where the bitterness comes. So, we do as a work off for the other flay, you take off the pith like this, and you roll down. Once you have rolled down through there, you go ahead and cut off the other flay. The last flay, basically you will get four flays of this pepper. You want to cut down right around the seeds and then remove the seeds. Now, we have this, right here, you want to go and clean the seeds right here, you want to clean the cutting board, come back through here and cut off the rest of the seeds and the pith, which is this white area right here, the pith is off. We go and rinse the rest of them off, get the rest of the seeds off and then we have the flays.

    From here, we can cut the flays down little bit more depending on all we want to do if we want to julienne, we want to do a small dice, medium dice whatever we have all the flays ready to work with right here. So, this is how you flay a pepper and now we are going to dice a carrot.