Photos and GIFs by Liz Barclay

Celebrity chefs with sprawling restaurant empires at their fingertips do a lot of things, but cooking generally isn’t one of them. If you want to know how the dirty work gets done—the descaling of fish, the peeling of potatoes, the chopping of ridiculous quantities of onions—you’re better off going down the line and talking to the cooks who are in the thick of it, day in and day out.

To wit: For our first installment of FWF kitchen-skills tutorials, we hollered at Henry Molina, a cook at Mission Chinese Food on the Lower East Side. If you haven’t been to Mission, know this: It is insanely busy all of the time. The kitchen is small, and it turns out a startling amount of food each day. For Molina, that means working quickly, efficiently, and sans any unexpected trips to the hospital. While some of the stuff he does isn’t relevant to the home cook, the fundamentals—like how to actually hold a knife properly—can take your kitchen prowess to the next level.

Here, Molina breaks out his blades and shows us how to cut some things you use all the time: garlic, onions, avocados, and lemons. You think you know, but you have no idea…

[NOTE: None of this works if you have a shitty knife. For tips on buying a chef’s knife that won’t break the bank, check out our interview with Brendan McDermott, Knife Skills Expert at the Institute of Culinary Education. Or just buy a Nenox Wa-Kiritsuke like Molina and be a goddamn boss.]

Click through gallery above to see Molina demonstrate each of his essential knife-skill tips. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryAMolina.