It’s been a minute since we gave you an update on the very first product in our brand new line of kitchen and home goods—which, of course, we’re creating in partnership with all of you.
The countdown has begun, and our wooden cutting board will be launching in just a few weeks. The last time we spoke, more than 10,000 of you had weighed in with tons of excellent feedback and ideas (we’re looking at you, juice groove-lovers!), and we were hard at work on prototypes.
Since then, we've sent those prototypes to three of our most trusted friends and Food52 community members to test out and give their honest, unvarnished (like our board) opinion. We also gave it to Josh Cohen, who heads up the Food52 test kitchen, to do the same.
We asked each tester to answer the following questions:
To our relief—er, delight—the feedback was pretty consistent, with only one or two curveballs that had us scratching our heads. Here’s a recap:
Let me say it’s a great board. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. It is light enough I can easily tote it out to the grill, or to wherever it needs to be toted.
2. The way the board is beveled at the edges works well for picking the board up and flipping it, no handles required.
3. While I don’t usually go for boards with the juice trap, this particular version works well. Make sure you rinse and wash it not long after using, though. The juices can easily stain.
4. At first I thought it wasn’t going to be big enough. I am used to a Boos block that is much larger, but the board handled all the prep I could give it well.
5. We are moving and I am downsizing my kitchen a lot. New kitchen is about 1/3 the size of my current space. The Food52 cutting board should work wonderfully in its new home.
6. I like the wood chosen too. It’s got the right amount of hardness so your knife gets a little bounce when you are dicing vegetables.
Tom also said his iPhone 8 with a slim case fit in the phone slot perfectly.
I love the thickness. The "pour spout" is so helpful. I love the phone holder, but it doesn't work for my iPhone 8 case. The slot might not be wide enough to hold one with a sturdy/waterproof case. Would it be possible to angle the holder so the phone slants up a bit? I do love the heft of the board, very comfortable to work with. Would you like me to rub a coat of mineral oil on it?
We also asked our friend Kenji Lopez-Alt, chef, cookbook author, and food science guru, to weigh in:
Board is good-looking and a decent size, and feels sturdy and well made, though I personally prefer a larger board for my normal tasks paired with a smaller board that I place on top if cutting meat or seafood, so a mid-sized board is personally not particularly useful. That’s just me though. I find the thickness a little bit chunky.
The light colored wood marks very easily. After one use there were really clearly visible lines left by my knife and after a few days the board looked more used than darker wood boards I’ve had for decades. This didn’t affect performance of course, just the looks. Not that the worn-in look is inherently bad.
I really like the grease channel and a little pour spout on the carving side. The phone holder doesn’t work for me, because my phone in a case (iPhone 8 in a folded wallet-style case) doesn’t fit in the slot (slot in view below). What kind of wood is it made from?
Last but not least, Josh had this to report back from the Food52 test kitchen:
I tried the pour spout; it worked nicely. I like the size of the board. It's big enough for a professional chef to feel happy—home cooks often use boards that are too small, so I like this size, which feels sturdy. I use a plastic board because I think it’s easier to clean, so I wonder how it would feel to use this board a lot and maintain it over time—will it get very scratched up or discolored?
Josh’s phone didn’t fit into the slot (he has an Otterbox case), and he liked the idea of an angle, too.
Generally, people were happy, and everyone loved the juice groove and spout (thank you, survey responders!). But we realized we still had some work to do if we were going to to turn our initial prototype from a solid wooden cutting board into The Perfect Wooden Cutting Board.
Clearly the current iteration of the phone slot had issues, so we set about testing a handful of different shapes and sizes (see below) in order to land on a design that worked with every single phone/case combo we could get our hands on. We’re particularly proud of this feature because of all the work that went into getting it just right, and because we’ve never seen a phone slot in a cutting board before.
Most of our testers commented on the board’s tendency to show marks and stains easily. We like the look of a board that’s used regularly and has the scars to prove it, but we felt there was middle ground. We want to keep the board affordable, so while we love truly dark woods (apparently you do, too—walnut boards are top sellers in our Shop), we decided to go with a harder and slightly deeper-hued maple.
This brings us to the question of size. Don’t get us wrong: We love an extra-extra-large board, and we have trouble keeping up with the demand for boards like these and these, so we know you do, too. But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, while we want this board to be made to last, we were determined that it wouldn't cost more than $100. A larger, thicker board, even made of a sturdy economical wood like maple, would just be too expensive. So we’re staying the course on the dimensions we’ve chosen.
We can’t wait to unveil the final board to you—along with the name of our new line—and we’re getting really close now! Stick with us—we know you’re going to love it as much as we do.
Amanda & Merrill