Chef Instructor Tim Shaw leads a knife workshop for students
SF State’s Vista Room offers students real-life cooking experiences in a fully functioning restaurant.
October 28, 2022
It was completely silent as a small group of students huddled around Chef Instructor Tim Shaw as he chopped silently.
“A common misconception with cooking is that you want to chop the knife down on the board,” Shaw said. “This is an incorrect method and probably the fastest way to dull your knife.”
On Thursday, students attended Shaw’s workshop on how to effectively use knives in the kitchen at SF State’s Vista Room kitchen.
“Today, I am going to give you more confidence in working with a knife,” Shaw said to the group. “We’re going to start with some real basic cuts.”
Shaw has a professional and culinary background that includes catering, private chef services and extensive teaching that stems over 20 years. He currently works at SF State’s Vista Room, where he trains students in the Hospitality and Tourism Management department.
The Vista Room is a fully functional restaurant turned learning laboratory in SF State’s Burk Hall.
“I really like cooking, it’s a fun way to bring people together and learn about different cultures,” said third-year student Angellynn Tam. “This workshop provided me with skills to cook better and to work safely around the kitchen.”
Shaw loaded the cooking board in front of him with an assortment of vegetables, including celery, carrots and garlic. He showed the students how to properly hold a knife and execute specific chopping methods like slicing, dicing and mincing.
“Cutting and dicing onions has always been something I struggled with,” Tam said. “It was really helpful to learn the proper way to cut them instead of the messy way I usually do.”
Shaw then cut cilantro and parsley to show students how to properly cut herbs.
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“I learned that you could smash garlic to mince it,” said third-year student Janaveve Solis. “That was totally new to me.”
The students then walked to their own individual cutting stations where they were handed a bowl of fresh produce. Under Shaw’s guidance, the students practiced cutting each vegetable.
“It was really nice to get more practice with cutting vegetables,” Solis said. “Also getting to work with cloves of garlic was cool because that’s something I never do.
SF State’s Nutrition Education Coordinator Danielle Lundstrom was also helping students learn proper cutting techniques.
“I’ve known Chef Tim through collaborations we’ve done and through his help with Gator Groceries,” Lundstrom said. “Because he’s got great skills in knife work and working as a chef, I wanted him to do this event so we could help bring those skills to students.”
The workshop concluded with a quick tutorial by Shaw on how to properly sharpen your knife, and how often one should do this.
“These students might not be able to get these skills elsewhere,” Lundstrom said. “We want to assist them with those basic cooking skills and support them with teaching safe cutting skills.”