Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event at the Merchandise Mart location of The Chopping Block in honor of the Chicago Cutlery DesignPro line of knives. When I received the invitation from Mom Central I was excited for two main reasons:
1. I have attended a couple of events at The Chopping Block and they are fun and well put-together.
2. I have really old, cheap knives that are in terrible shape but learning about new knives is something I’ve always been too lazy to take on, so this event would be the kick I needed.
When I arrived, I got excited for another reason: we would be not only learning some knife skills but we’d also be working in two teams to cook our own lunch. The menu?
Caponata on Crostini
Thai Beef Salad
Fish in Parchment with Julienned Vegetables and Olive Butter
Seasonal Fresh Fruit Tart
I didn’t even know what Caponata was, but it sounded really delicious.
Then I found out that the main ingredient in Caponata is eggplant.
I have a strong aversion to eggplant because when I was a kid, my mom would cook a whole eggplant on the stovetop, and the smell of it permeated every square inch of the house. It seemed like she cooked it for hours, but now that I’m an adult I’m guessing it was less than thirty minutes. Regardless, that smell–just like that of liver and onions–stuck with me and I have always stayed about twenty feet away from any and all eggplant.
Until Wednesday, that is. I put on my big-girl pants and decided that I was going to try the Caponata. In fact, I even volunteered to chop the eggplant. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me back up.
We were introduced to the DesignPro line first. Chicago Cutlery consulted with chefs to find out about the way they hold their knives, and more often than not it was discovered that chefs hold their knives close to the actual blade for better control over what they’re doing, which when you think about it is pretty important when you’re dealing with a sharp instrument. That’s why the DesignPro line has a really cool grip area built-in, so you know exactly where to put your fingers.
There are six knives in the DesignPro line:
7″ Santoku knife
8″ Chef knife
8″ Scalloped bread knife
5″ Partoku knife (my favorite, as it turns out)
5″ Scalloped utility knife
3 1/4″ Paring knife
All of them have that grip that I mentioned and of course, ultra-sharp blades.
After learning about the knives themselves, it was time to use them at The Chopping Block’s gorgeous kitchen area.
I picked my spot, which was all set up with a wood cutting board (our instructor recommended wood cutting boards over plastic, by the way, to help prolong the life of knife blades), a Chef’s knife, and a Partoku knife.
We got busy learning how to hold our knives, learning how to chop onions, and how to julianne. It was really fun (as I knew it would be) and honestly, I could have been very happy just standing there chopping vegetables for another hour or so. It wasn’t to be, though: we had lunch to make!
Our team was in charge of making the Caponata on Crostini, so we chopped up that eggplant and the other ingredients and got to use the Chicago Cutlery DesignPro bread knife, too.
Each of us got to make our own fish in parchment, and it was so easy I’ll definitely make it here at home. All you do is start with a heart-shaped piece of parchment paper, and in one half you put your julianned veggies. Top that with the salmon and a chunk of olive butter. Brush the edges of the parchment paper with butter and then fold them up all around. Sealing the ingredients in the parchment paper will keep the moisture in the fish during baking. (Yum.)
The other team made the Thai Beef Salad, and before we knew it we came together to eat our delicious lunch.
And dessert, of course.
Using the Chicago Cutlery DesignPro line at this event was an eye-opening experience for me. I wanted to come home and toss every single knife I have in the trash. I didn’t exactly do that, but was able to replace a few thanks to the goodies I brought home (thanks, Chicago Cutlery!). I have been looking for things to chop ever since.
The Chicago Cutlery DesignPro line can be found at their website and on Amazon. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you have old, icky knives like I do. The best news? There’s a lifetime guarantee on all Chicago Cutlery products, under normal household use!
Thanks so much to Chicago Cutlery and Mom Central for this opportunity; I had a great time and it was an awesome learning experience! (Oh, and? I loved the Caponata. Yay!)
Disclosure: I wrote this review after attending in an event by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Chicago Cutlery and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. All words, opinions, and pictures are mine.