Product Design

Help Us Create the First Product in Our Line!

March 29, 2018

In case you missed it, the other day we made a Big Announcement. We’re creating a new line of Food52 kitchen and home goods...with you! And today, we’re revealing our first project: an American-made, all-purpose cutting board.

We chose this because everyone wants—nay, needs!—a great cutting board. Designing one may seem simple and straightforward, but the details—the wood, the dimensions, the heft—really matter here. And that’s why we need your help, so we can make the best dang cutting board this world has ever seen.

If you have opinions about what makes a great cutting board, let your voice be heard! Answer the questions below before 5pm EDT on Friday, April 6th, and we’ll not only take your feedback into account when designing our cutting board, but we’ll also enter you into a drawing to win one of three finished cutting boards. Keep an eye on our Instagram stories for more questions there, too, and follow along with #f52byyou. Once we gather and discuss all of your thoughts, we’ll get a prototype underway and start sharing our progress with you in a few weeks. (More product quizzes in the weeks to come, too!)

Take the quiz!

No time for a questionnaire? You can still enter to win here. For rules and regulations, click here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Cherie Francis
    Cherie Francis
  • Sally Bergmoser
    Sally Bergmoser
  • AntoniaJames
  • BakerBren
  • Smaug
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Cherie F. October 16, 2018
I would like to see a large cutting board that is at least 24 x 24 that will hold liquids and solids in and keeps from spilling off the sides. I want it to be quality made and last as long as my Grandmas cutting board that is just wearing out after 50 plus years.
Sally B. October 14, 2018
I would like a board to have a well for non edible scrapes ? Maybe a small flush stainless steel basket you can scrape the inedible pieces in and then lift and throw away !
Sally B. October 14, 2018
I would like a cutting board that has a gtove in it for the non edible scrapes ! Never found one ?
AntoniaJames April 5, 2018
I second the suggestion that the boards (offer more than one size, please) be designed to fit into 1/2 sheet and 1/4 sheet pans, and thick enough to clear the rims, so as not to interfere with the knife.
Weight is important to me - I'd only buy it if it were not too heavy to remove easily from a lower cabinet. I have a thick Boos board that I almost never use because handling it is a bit of an ordeal. I take it out to sit in my sheet pans after grilling, when serving on the deck, because it's the only board I have that's thick enough to clear the rims of the sheet pan.
No handle. Grooves on each side. I would never hang mine up, at least not in my current kitchen, but I can imagine wanting to do that. If you put a hole in one end, please make it large enough to enable thorough cleaning. ;o)
BakerBren April 3, 2018
Another consideration I've not yet noticed mention of: endgrain vs. crossgrain orientation. For example, bamboo cutting boards aren't much fun to cut on (too hard and cnoisy) for me when crossgrain, but I have an endgrain bamboo board that is satisfactory--it's a little softer but heals well. If an assembled board is thick enough (1in or thicker), I think endgrain orientation will work, but your manufacturer should know best practice. It can look pretty cool too. There are amazing mosaic boards produced in this way--but they're more art than tool.
Smaug April 3, 2018
In retrospect, you may have already nailed it. The sort of world weary chic of the board in the picture is probably the best you can do aesthetically; you can't really do anything with finishes anyway, the choices for wood are pretty much maple- not much by way of interesting grain- and gluing up different colored pieces really doesn't look good and can lead to technical problems . The small handle provides a bit of interest in the shape without interfering with the straight edges, the size appears to be small enough to be reasonably easy to handle. I'm not sure I like the beveled edge, but it does help to prevent chips. Question is, can you mass produce these things?
thirschfeld April 1, 2018
I prefer a hefty cutting board with room to work. There is nothing worse than cutting half a carrot and the having to move it someplace else in order to cut the other half so 18x24 is perfect.

I like domestic maple but also could settle for birch. I like maple because it isn’t so hard that knife cuts become permanent but rather if you rub them with lemon or oil the wood swells and the blade marks become less prominent.

I also like boards that are heavy, usually made from twenty 3/4 (wide) x 1 1/2 (deep)x 24 (long)inch boards glued with the 3/4 inch boards forming the top of the board. All these boards glued together keeps everything from warping.

As far as handles go, I like it when they are routed and inset.
Smaug April 1, 2018
Actually, other than Hickory the hard maple usually used in this sort of project is the hardest common domestic you'll find. Birch is quite a bit softer, walnut and cherry-which combine very well- are softer than that, though pretty porous for a cutting board. Most people prefer a pretty hard wood- it's still a good deal softer than your knives.
702551 April 6, 2018
Hard maple and hickory cutting boards are wrong, despite their misguided popularity in the USA. They are great for furniture and baseball bats, not good for cutting boards because they accelerate the dulling of knife blades.

Better wood for cutting boards would be medium to medium-soft in hardness. This eliminates most fruit woods.

One hint of guidance: what do the Japanese prefer?

The two woods most prized for cutting boards in Japan are Chamaecyparis obtusa ("hinoki," Japanese cypress) and Salix caprea ("bakko yanagi," a type of willow). Both are medium-soft and give to knife blades, allowing them to retain their sharpness longer.

Hinoki is a common tree, widely grown throughout Japan. It's a very light colored wood and very, very recognizable as the preferred wood in top-notch Japanese restaurants. The wood is also used in temples, furniture, and kitchen utensils.

Heck, hinoki is so widely recognized as a top cutting board material that some Japanese plastic cutting boards are manufactured to look like hinoki.

Bakko yanagi has more limited availability. It is mostly grown in one area of Hokkaido island (up north) and as a willow, the tree trunks are not big, so specimens that have trunks wide enough to make a cutting board are rare and thus way more expensive.

Note that the Japanese are aware that hinoki (and bakko yanagi) cutting boards are generally moistened with water; they are not treated with a sealant. One thing this does is temper some of the natural wood odor (which the Japanese do not necessarily consider disagreeable). Being untreated, these boards tend to be more susceptible to staining.

The typical American cook tends to prefer sealed/treated hardwood cutting boards which makes their very resistant to staining.

Thus, there will a balanced choice between performance, aesthetics, durability, convenience and cost.

I myself would likely opt for a larger hinoki cutting board. I'd still have the option of temporarily tossing some cheapo NSF-approved plastic slab on top for certain tasks.

But that's just me...
702551 April 6, 2018
A few other notes, now that I've read a few more of the comments here.

End grain cutting boards in Japan are rare. The classic hinoki cutting board used in a nice restaurant there is whole cross grain wood, there is no glueing of boards like American cutting boards.

I believe part of this is due to the material. Hinoku is highly rot resistant and used to high humidity, thus does not warp. In fact, hinoku is the typical wood used to make wood soaking tubs as well as kitchen utensils. The classic is the "masu" the square wood cups traditionally used for drinking sake.

There's also an aesthetic quality about well-crafted hinoki object. The Japanese make countertops of whole cross grain hinoki. They are gorgeous and far more harmonious looking than a bunch of boards glued together, like my Boos maple cutting board.

Of course, Food52 will have to make some hard decisions based on the target audience for this cutting board product.

But one thing is for sure, a "good" cutting board in Japan is completely different than a "good" cutting board in the USA.
Smaug April 7, 2018
I've never worked with Hinoki, due to the fact that it is basically unavailable in this country- it can be imported, in large quantities for a huge price. The sometimes recommended domestic substitute, Port Orford Cedar, is wonderful stuff, but as it is a prized boat building wood it is in short supply and also very expensive.
702551 April 7, 2018
Looking at older Food52 threads on cutting boards, it appears that at least one Hotline regular has a hinoki cutting board. I know they can be purchased online here in the USA (yes, including Amazon) and that some people (and not just restaurateurs) do bring in the wood from Japan, so not much different than importing Italian marble.

As for imports, I'm way beyond that point.

My kitchen has things from overseas: an Italian hand-crank pasta machine, pans from France, Japan and USA, knives from German, Switzerland, and Japan. Oh, and yeah, there's some stuff that was made in China as well, like my enameled Dutch oven from Lodge.


It really comes down to how much you are willing to pay. German wine glasses? Crystal from Czech Republic? Lace from Poland? Capers packed in salt from Pantelleria? Nori from Hokkaiko? Chocolate from Belgium? Cheese from France? Champagne?

In any case Food52 will have to decide what they think will sell to their target audience. For me, the cutting board gold standard was solved by the Japanese well over a century ago. (Once my Boos falls apart or starts to warp, it will be replace by hinoki.)

It will be interesting to see what Food52 ends up offering.
Smaug April 7, 2018
It would be a cool thing if they could do it, but I think it would involve tying up a lot of capital and possibly an uncertain supply chain, a pretty difficult situation for a startup manufacturing operation. It would also put them into competition with some fairly well capitalized and well known competition from imported boards, but it would be worth their while to talk with potential suppliers- trying to set a board apart by design features doesn't seem awfully promising.
702551 April 7, 2018
Well, we don't know the reasoning behind Food52's decision to start their private label efforts with a cutting board, but here we are anyhow.

You're right, this type of endeavor is capital intensive and has supply chain uncertainties. In attempting to source high quality lumber, can they outmaneuver competitors who have established business relations with suppliers? Can they grab top-quality hinoki lumber before it is snapped up by some hotshot interior designer to be shipped off to a future sushi bar in NYC, L.A. or SF?

Food52 would be indeed competing against some established competitors. Only a few Japanese companies market their products here in the USA: Williams-Sonoma sells the Shun-branded boards; Kodai and Kiso brands are also sold here in the USA.

One thing for sure, the Japanese competitors have significant business back at home and the Japanese consumers have interest in a large range of wood products, so the woodworking operation enjoys more efficient use of resources. Leftover scraps of hinoki can be used to make small kitchen and other household items. Is there much of a market for that here in the USA?

Time will tell.
702551 April 7, 2018
I suppose it's also worth noting that there isn't a perfect board for all usage cases.

Western-style cutting boards are intended for Western cuisine and the usage.

The knife movements for Japanese cutlery are considerably different than Western knives (a lot more rocking and sawing). Westerners frequently use serrated knives, not a kitchen essential in Japan.

The food that is prepared is different. The Japanese diet is heavy on vegetables and fish.

The knives are different. The Japanese knives are often beveled only on one side whereas Western knives are usually beveled on both sides. The material is often different, the Japanese use a lot of carbon steel blades whereas Western kitchen knife blades are almost exclusively stainless steel construction.

For sure, Food52 will need to make some concessions in their product design choices, not just appearance, price and functionality, but also other factors such as maintenance and convenience.

Hinoki isn't really ideal for slicing crusty country-style loaves or hacking gargantuan 9 lb. chickens with a Western-style meat cleaver.

Most of my cooking is focused around vegetables, so hinoki is a much more viable option as a cutting board material for my particular style of cooking but it is clear that I am not Food52's target audience.
Smaug April 7, 2018
No, I'm not really target audience either; I'd be highly tempted by a Port Orford Cedar board, but I suspect it would come in north of $200, and anyway, it's a scarce resource that I'd rather see turned into guitars. Also worth noting- the stainless steel knives are a relatively new thing. When I learned cooking, stainless steel knives were something you bought when you sent your kid to college. I made due for many years with my carbon steel knives- a 10" chef and a paring knife- from Sabatier, who used to make great knives. I was pretty amazed about 10 years ago when I decided to try some different knife styles, and all the stores were offering was stainless steel, but the modern high carbon stainless actually takes an edge very well. It's being adopted by Japanese manufacturers too, at least for export knives- stainless Damasscus steel, no less.
Smaug April 7, 2018
Made due? Idunno, long day.
Smaug March 31, 2018
Are you sold on wood? It's really not a particularly practical material for cutting boards and the obvious domestic woods such as maple and mountain ash are pretty bland. Perhaps something a bit more interesting, such as swamp ash could be used, but it seems to me wooden boards are best left to your kids in shop class and used for decoration or bread cutting. There is a lot being done with composites; mostly for decking and outdoor furniture, far as I know, but some have found their way to the kitchen; I have a composite pizza peel (made by epicurean) that is stable and fairly attractive.
Matt March 31, 2018
You would be best served by reading up on cutting boards and actual science. Wood is the only good material to use as a cutting board.
Smaug March 31, 2018
Smaug May 29, 2018
It has come to my attention that Epicurean does make a line of composition cutting boards, including some wood grain models. According to the ads, they're really good.
bittersweet March 30, 2018
BakerBren, I love that idea. I would buy those.
Konky's C. March 30, 2018
A "two-fer" - Cutting/prep on one side for your ready-to-eat foods (fruits, vegetables, breads/baked goods, etc) while the other side is for your larger carvings and/or larger prep work that may have excessive fluids that need to be caught.

Domestic wood to keep the prices reasonable for the home cooks out there. Created here in the USA and made by people in the USA would make this absolutely wonderful! This handle-free somewhat-thick board would need to be able to handle a good proper scrubbing for cleaning.

The cutting/prep side needs to be capable of handling both the lower grade knives and the professional knives. All too often, I have seen cutting boards on the market that just dont last durability-wise. I hear from people who just dont want to buy multiple cutting boards because they just dont help encompass almost everything they prep. This side would be for your vegetables, fruits, breads/baked goods - all ready-to-eat foods.

The opposite side with a grooved ring capable of catching the fluids from your larger prepped proteins where you tend to break down your own at home, foods that require cooking-side.

This leaves the home cooks having to purchase one cutting board for *this* and another type of cutting board for *that*.

Offer two sizes of the same "twofer": Standard/Typical restaurant sized cutting boards for those with plenty of room to get their mad-prep going.

For those who dont have much counter space - this board should be available in a smaller size as well.
Konky's C. March 30, 2018
UPDATE (I hit the submit button too soon while editing - stupid mouse in the way and my large hand hitting the button, HAHAHAH)

This leaves the home cooks NOT having to purchase one cutting board for *this* and another type of cutting board for *that*..
BakerBren March 30, 2018
Full, half, quarter, and maybe eighth sheet pan sizes (to fit inside these) would be epic. With just enough height to clear the 1in rims so knives don't hit the sides when placed in a sheet pan. Sheet pans are already a standard for so many kitchen items and racks and they are useful sizes. This would make those dumb boards with routed juice trough edges obsolete and would be wonderful when carving something like a hot turkey: Doing something messy? put it in a pan! Also, an embedded magnet or two under a dowel (so you know where it is but the surface is still usable there) would help keep knives and tools in place when moving around a board. I second many of the previous suggestions regarding maple (or beech, or ash), double sided, need for no-slip mat options. Of course, if it's a sheet pan size, one could just use silpats underneath. Routed finger grooves along the sides for sure. I have a design concept drawing of this but I don't see how to post it into this comment. Example size to fit a half sheet pan: 11.5in wide x 16.5in long x 1.125in thick with 0.5in radiused corners.
Nat D. March 30, 2018
The perfect cutting board would have a non-slip base, attractive medium hue wood to prevent showing as many stains so, a good maple or beech cutting board is somewhat self-healing, large enough to get a chef's knife across it, no handles (maybe built-in handholds on both sides), large with slightly rounded edges, not too thick (so it's a comfortable height for the knife)
BerryBaby March 29, 2018
Because my counters are slick (quartz), I need to place a non-slip mat or towel under cutting boards. A board that has a non-slip base (this could be a separate piece or something that could be removed for cleaning) would be ideal. BB🙃
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 29, 2018
I'm not particpating in your "product research" to hawk another product.
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 29, 2018
Where were these quizzes, polls and surveys about "community" improvements and overall realtions?
Leslie H. March 29, 2018
Maple, no handle, rectangle, heavy, but with routed finger grip edges all around. I use both sides- but the edge should be grabbable from either side. The wood must be beautiful and stable, so it should be made of strips, kindof stripey. Maybe a grab- hole which doubles as a hang -hole. We would love to make your prototype, here in Asheville, NC. [email protected]
Chris D. March 29, 2018
A chef knife should fit on the board vertically, good dimensions: 14" x 18"
To protect the knives, end grain is preferred to cross grain.

Also cool would some marking and indications for 1/8, 1/4, 1/2" cuts.