11/04/2011 11:06 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Use A Mandoline

As chef Eve Felder of The Culinary Institute explains, a mandoline is essentially a hand-held slicing machine. Two screws hold in a cutting blade, which can be a straight cut, a french fry cut, a julienne, or a fine julienne. To change the thickness of your cuts, you simply turn the mandoline over and adjust the screw on the back -- it will raise or lower the blade, giving you a thicker or thinner slice. Chef Felder slices a potato to demonstrate how the mandoline cuts, making sure to keep her hand flat and her fingers away from the blade. As the potato becomes smaller, she uses the guard, which protects her hands. At the end, she has a pile of very thinly sliced potatoes, created much more quickly than using a knife.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Eve Felder from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: the technique of using a mandoline.

A mandoline is basically a little handheld slicing machine.

Let me show you the parts of a mandoline. This is a straight blade, for straight cuts such as potatoes, for potato chips. These two screws on either side hold in our different blades. We have a blade for a straight cut, we have a french fry cut, we have a julienne and we have a fine julienne, which is basically strips. We're going to turn the mandoline over. On the back is a screw that lifts up this part of the mandoline, which makes the slice either thicker or thinner.

So here we go. This is for potato gratin, or potatoes au gratin, with cheese. Take a peeled potato and hold it flat against the left side. Now, I am not using the guard at this point because it is awkward. This is the guard and I will show you how to use that momentarily. Here we go: we're going to slice, and we're going to look at our thickness. So we're about this thick, maybe an eighth of an inch. If we wanted to make it thinner, we would tighten our screw and go to a thinner cut. This is great to use for something like fennel, to make a fennel salad. It's really great to use if you want really thin, long strips of carrot to decorate a plate.

At this point, when the potato is a little smaller, you want to start using the guard. One, it's easy, it's not awkward - when the potato was so large, it's awkward to use it. Second, we're getting close to where it could be dangerous. So here we go, we're using the guard, and we can go all the way down. Keep your hand flat: do not catch your fingers underneath! And there we are; all we have left is one little piece. As you can see, you can go very fast with this, as opposed to hand slicing - and they are evenly cut.