From cutting fresh vegetables to herbs, fruits, and more, the incredible cutting speed and precision of professional chefs we see on TV can make any home cook feel intimidated. That kind of knife skill is the dream of every home cook or to-be chef. If mastered, it opens up a world of possibilities to take your culinary skills to the next level.

Whether you want to mince, chop, or dice more effectively and efficiently, the only thing separating you and great knife skills is a cutting board, the right knives, the basic cutting techniques, and practice.

To hone your knife skills and a become better cook, here are 5 cutting tips to get you started.

1. Using The Right Knife

Knives are the backbone of any cook. Whether you are mastering culinary skills or working as a home chef, you have to have the right knife for the right purpose.

Every cook must be able to peel, slice, debone and dice properly- but a single knife can’t do everything. You need to invest in a good set of knives, the stars of which should include a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a serrated knife, and a utility knife.

2. Handling Your Knife Right

There’s a difference between how home cooks and master chefs hold a knife. While home cooks wrap their whole hand around the knife’s handle alone, the chef’s grip is more evolved and better such that it facilitates cutting speed and precision.

A typical chef uses the palm of his hand to choke up the knife’s handle and extend his index and thumb finger to grip the nearest end of the blade. This grip without a doubt is the easiest and most efficient way to control the weight of the knife and the sharpness of its blade.

3. Start Easy and Practice

Never start with the enervating butternut squash when mastering your knife skills, it will get you bored quickly and you may lose interest. Start with soft and easy veggies like zucchini.

As you practice and improve, you can work your up to mild vegetables like carrots, then gradually to the difficult butternut squash. As you grow, slowly familiarize yourself with essential cutting techniques like julienne, chopping, large and small dice, back-slice, and more.

4. Sharpen Your Knife

A dull knife is more dangerous in your kitchen than a sharpened knife. A dull knife requires more pressure and is more likely to slip off course to cause an accident. Once a knife is dull don’t force it. Sharpen your knife regularly depending on the frequency of usage in your kitchen.

Trying your knife against your palm to check if it’s sharpened is as dangerous as unhygienic. There are many ways to know if your blade is sharpened, we recommend you draw the blade along the edge of a paper.

5. Safety First

When it comes to safety, there are two things you need to keep in mind, your safety and your food safety. You need to keep your knife sharp to be free from accidents as mentioned above because a dull knife is more likely to cause an accident. If you have any concerns about sharp knives, there’s always a cut-proof glove on the market. So get one and be safe.

The other is to avoid food contamination by microorganisms or other bacteria. The ideal kitchen practice to keep germs at bay is using separate cutting boards for different cooking supplies. Don’t use a single cutting board for seafood, poultry, and raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.

There you have it. Five incredible tips to get you started and grow your culinary skill. Try them out today and boost your confidence in the kitchen.