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This tip believe it or not is not actually something one learns in culinary school. I recall when I was much younger starting out working in kitchens and I would be given kilos and kilos of onions to slice, dice, julienne and chop by the head chef. During those times I never noticed it at the time but I rarely became teary eyed when working with them. However on my days off I would often knock up a meal at home and after cutting half an onion I was balling like a 1960’s teenage girl at a Beatles concert.

I wondered what I was doing different and I could see nothing I was doing different at home than at work. I later discovered it had nothing to do with what I was doing but what the kitchen itself was doing. You see at work there were 6 huge extractor fans across from me and my chopping board and there was a big corridor running down to a huge receiving door behind me that was open to the fresh air. At home I had the windows in my apartment shut and the tiny overhead fan turned off. So the answer is no more simple than making sure you have good circulation and air being drawn out of the kitchen.

  1. When chopping the onions try to face or be as near as possible to your exhaust fan and open some windows and doors to allow air to flow.
  2. If all else fails take the board out to the patio table and chop em in the great outdoors.

Paul Hegeman

Paul is a personal Chef to exclusive Sydney clients and is also our most frequently contributing writer. Paul was born in The Netherlands and moved to Canada at a very young age.

Experience with traditional European meals at home and the diverse multicultural influence of foods in Canada gave Paul a great appreciation for different culinary styles. Over the years Paul traveled extensively and worked at every level of professional kitchens, from the deep fryer in the local burger joint, to the Head Chef in Five Star Hotels.

He now resides full time in Sydney, Australia with his wife and their children. You will find his recipes emphasize natural, uncomplicated flavours and fresh ingredients such as those found in Mediterranean and South East Asian cuisines.

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