It was just a small nick - a little bubble of blood, didn't really hurt at all, but I still felt pretty stupid! A quick trip to the first aid kit took care of it - a band aid and a rubber finger guard - and I was back to my station and resumed practicing my knife skills. First day at cooking school and we're learning all the basic knife cuts for using on vegetables.
After a tour of the kitchen and all the cooking equipment, we were presented with our knife kits (apart from cookware, most of our cooking equipment will be personally owned and maintained, such as our knives, our spoons, our spatulas, our whisks, and our pepper mill). Our chef demonstrated various methods of cutting vegetables, or taillage, and we grab a bowl of carrots, turnips, and onions and start working on cutting our own vegetables. We did emincer (thinly sliced) and ciseler (fine dice) on the onions, julienne (6-7cm x 1-2mm strips) and brunoise (1-2 mm x 1-2mm, cut from julienne) on the carrots, and jardinere (5cm x 5mm batons) and macedoine (5mm x 5mm cubes, cut from jardinere) on the turnips. We also skinned tomatoes by scoring, blanching, shocking, then peeling them (process known as monter), and did a simple rough cut called concasser.
We have two chef-instructors in the class, one of whom is our primary chef for levels one and two. We also have the luxury of a dishwasher - no, not just an appliance, an actual person! In The Making of a Chef, by Michael Rulman, he writes about how students at the Culinary Institute of America have to wash their own dishes. I don't really see how this adds any useful skills, apart from being judicious in the amount of cooking utensils one employs in preparing something. At the FCI, just like in a restaurant kitchen, all major cooking utensils are taken care of by the dishwashers - we just need to take care of our personal knife kit items, and an occasional special tool from the kitchen.
It was a lot of fun cutting the vegetables, which we then presented to the chefs for inspection. I got good feedback on mine, which I was happy about. I'm going to practice whenever I get a chance at home - grab a few carrots at the grocery store, some extra onions, and just get chopping. I really to build on my precision, speed, and confidence. We'll do some more taillage in the next class, and learn some basic techniques for cooking vegetables.