I have often been asked why such importance is placed on knife skills. The food taste just the same, some think, regardless of how neat they chopped, diced, or julienned. However, attention to detail pays off in even cooking and delicious presentation. We eat with our eyes first and a pretty plate can go along way in the culinary world.
My first 8 weeks spent in culinary school were filled with perfecting all these cuts. The vast piles of carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions I tortured in creating cuts that past the mustard to the large, intimidating French chef that taught all incoming culinary hopefuls still haunts me a bit, lol. Hopefully you can have a more light-hearted experience while mastering your best cuts at home :)
Fantastic illustrated tutorial on basic knife skills! Check out Illustrated Bites , you won't be disappointed.