The Perfect Slice
Knife Skills
Place of Learning: 
90 Min
Grade Level: 

ESY Berkeley Teaching Staff
Edible Schoolyard Project
Berkeley, CA

Why is practice important to mastering a skill? What is pride? And how does it show up in work? In this lesson, students will listen to a short story from StoryCorps and answer a few questions that hone in on the topics of taking pride in one's work and the importance of practice. Students will then practice their slicing technique on onions and prepare quick pickled onions.
Student Learning Goals & Objectives: 

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe why practicing is an important skill for developing their abilities
  • Execute slicing an onion
  • Execute a basic pickled onion recipe
  • Understand that taking pride means wanting to present your best work and always seeking to improve one's own abilities
Materials & Prep: 
  • Computer or phone with internet access to listen to podcast and view video
  • Notepad or Paper
  • A cutting board
  • A knife
  • 1 red or yellow onion
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • Jar or container with lid
Procedure Steps: 
Before students get started

Grab a notebook or a couple pieces of paper and a pencil


Students will first listen to the podcast of Joshua Gubitz and Len Berk on StoryCorps.


Students will write the answers to questions on their notepad or paper. They may relisten to the podcast or re-read the transcript as often as they need to help them answer the questions.

  • Why is practice important to mastering a skill? When Len says “I’m still trying for the perfect slice,” how does he mean that? Is he still practicing after 20 years?
  • Two aspects of taking pride in work are identifying with the job and finding joy in the work. How does Len find joy in his job? What does Len say that shows he identifies with his work?

Students will watch a short demonstration of slicing onions before practicing the skill themselves. Students will approach the activity with a mindset of practice and pride in their work. Students will use their sliced onions in a quick pickled onions recipe.

  • 1 medium size red or yellow onion; sliced
  • ½ cup of vinegar or citrus juice (lemon, lime or orange juice all work well)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • Mix all the ingredients in a container with a lid and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Lox:  Salmon that has cured in a salt-sugar rub or brine
Pickling: The process of preserving or extending the shelf life of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar.


StoryCorps (2015, June 5). Joshua Gubitz and Len Berk. Retrieved from

Edible Schoolyard Project (2020). Onion Slicing Demonstration. Retrieved from