How Restaurants Chop Vegetables

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Restaurant chopping vegetables.

This will cover the different ways that restaurants use to chop vegetables. Restaurants go through a lot of vegetables throughout the day after preparing food for their customers. One of their first routines is prep, and one of their first tasks is chopping vegetables. Some restaurants go through three cases or more of tomatoes, and an entire large bag of onions.

So how do restaurants do it? There are many ways that restaurants chop vegetables, but the most common way is with the use of a chef’s knife.

How To Cut Vegetables Like A Restaurant With A Knife For Beginners

  1. Get a cutting board.
    • Always begin by using a cutting board to cut your vegetables on. The cutting board will be prone to sliding, so you will also need a cutting board mat. This is exactly the one that our restaurant uses. The cutting board mat will prevent the cutting board from slipping and losing integrity while you are cutting, otherwise the cutting board will slide all over the place.
    • Cutting boards will prevent other surfaces from getting scratched up from repeatedly cutting on them. It can get really bad after some time if those surfaces are used instead of cutting boards, and cause some permanent damage to them. Some of the damaged surface particles can also get into your food, so use a cutting board to prevent this.
  2. Get chef’s knives.
    • You are going to need a really good sharp and durable chef’s knife. You will need many of them if you are going to be chopping a lot of vegetables on a daily basis like the restaurants do. A sharp knife is going to make cutting vegetables easier on your wrists and shoulders in the long run, so you don’t develop any unnecessary long term injuries. Restaurants often replace knives that have become dull for this reason.
  3. Set up your cutting board on a prep table.
    • Restaurants set their cutting boards on a stainless steel prep table. They are big enough to not only set up the cutting board, but also to provide extra space to set up vegetables for cutting in large quantities. This way they are ready to grab instead of being set on the floor or a nearby space that is out of reach. It is better to use this than a dining table, counter, or kitchen table.
    • Take the cutting board mat and place it on the table first, then place the cutting board on top of the mat to keep it from slipping.
  4. Set the vegetable you are cutting on the cutting board.
  5. Grab your chef’s knife and begin cutting.
    • Before you start cutting with the knife, there is a certain way the knife has to be held for your safety, especially if you are using a sharp chef’s knife.
      • Take the chef’s knife with your good arm (right if right-handed, left if left-handed) and hold it by the handle with the blade facing down.
      • Move the index finger and thumb to the back of the knife, past the handle, and grab it with these two fingers. This is where you will keep your fingers for holding the knife. Now take the other three fingers (the pinky, ring finger, and middle finger) and grab the handle. This is the proper way to hold a knife for cutting.
      • Lay the vegetable down after it has been washed and peeled and begin chopping it into pieces by using a rocking motion with the knife while firmly gripping it. The back part of the blade will come up and back down when cutting.
      • The other hand will guide the vegetables while they are being cut, and the finger of the other hand will remain curled to prevent them from getting cut. The tips of the fingers will face down towards the cutting table. The knuckles of the hand guiding the vegetables will be pressed against the side of the knife as if you are making an organic cutting machine with your hands.
The proper way to cut vegetables with a chef’s knife.

Cutting vegetables with a chef’s knife will feel weird at first, but eventually you will get used to it, and pretty fast when having to cut vegetables on a regular basis. It will become second nature to you, and you will be able to cut veggies fast, the safe and right way.

Accidents happen a lot in restaurants when people are prepping and cutting vegetables, when they don’t use the proper techniques. Many of the people prepping feel as if they are too good and too aware to ever cut themselves. They think that it is just ‘common sense’ to not cut yourself, yet everyone using knives in a restaurant without using the proper techniques has eventually cut themselves.

Make sure you are sober too. I saw one guy cutting vegetables while he was high and he literally chopped off a piece of the tip of his finger. This same guy worked in the restaurant for years, and spent 2 years doing nothing but prepping for the restaurant by chopping vegetables all day long, every single day. Don’t get complacent when handling sharp knives and cutting vegetables.

Other Ways Restaurants Chop Vegetables

Restaurants have other ways that they use to chop vegetables that can not only be more convenient, but safer and faster. They use different mechanical machines to get it done. It still requires some hand-to-cutting board chef’s knife cutting, but far less than the traditional way.

1. A Manual Vegetable Chopper

Manual vegetable choppers are a common way that restaurants get vegetables chopped into little dices for salads. The veggies are chopped up into smaller parts to fit into the slicer, and then pressed down with a lever or handle through the checker gridded blades. They come out as little squares or ‘fries’ on the other side and fall into a bowl or a pan underneath.

It is pretty effective, but it still requires a little bit of elbow grease. Sometimes if the vegetables pieces aren’t placed in the machine correctly, the other pieces can go flying everywhere. They work for tomatoes, but it can get real juicy and messy if the tomatoes are a little softer, sometimes smooshing some of the contents in between. It works really well for firmer vegetables, like bell peppers and onions for example.

2. Commercial Slicer

Commercial slicers are designed for slicing meats into thin slices, but restaurants also use this quite often for cutting vegetables. Deli restaurants have found great value in using commercial slicers to cut onions into onion rings for example.

They cut off one of the ends of an onion first so they can peel the entire thing, then they place it on a slicer and set it for thin slices and make thin slices for onions rings. These same slices can also be placed in the manual vegetable chopper to get onion dices for salads and other foods.

They can help to cut up a 50 pound bag of onions into onions rings in under 30 minutes. They are good for making thin slices out of other tougher vegetables as well, and sharp enough to cut soft tomatoes that won’t go through a tomato slicer easily to make tomato slices.

3. Ultra Food Processors

Food processors are the high end for slicing up vegetables for restaurants, which don’t require any manual labor besides peeling the vegetables and placing them into the machine. These are very valuable for pizza restaurants. They can make slices of various sizes that can be placed on pizzas as well. They basically make the chopped vegetables 1000% faster than any other methods described here that restaurants would otherwise use. Over time, restaurants using this are glad that they bought one.

Here is a demonstration of one in action:

Fastest way for chopping vegetables.

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