Essential Tools

The Cutting Board You Had Very Strong Feelings About

by:
August 24, 2018

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.

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We asked each tester to answer the following questions:

  1. Thoughts on the dimensions?
  2. How do you feel about the thickness/weight?
  3. How functional are the juice groove and pour spout?
  4. Is the slot that holds a phone handy? Well-positioned?

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:


TESTER NO. 1: TOM HIRSHFELD

Tom Hirschfeld, one of the earliest voices on the site and a repeat Food52 recipe contest winner, wrote:

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.


TESTER NO. 2 JILL FERGUS

Jill Fergus, also a long-time Food52er, had this to say:

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?


TESTER NO. 3 KENJI LOPEZ-ALT

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?

Alicia helping with tonight’s pizza.

A post shared by J. Kenji López-Alt (@kenjilopezalt) on


TESTER NO. 4: JOSH COHEN

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.


ADJUSTMENTS IN PROGRESS

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.

Phone slot feature

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.

A closer look at our phone slot options. Photo by Kristina Wasserman

Wood type

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.

Size

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


What Makes the Perfect Cutting Board?

28 Comments

Alicia F. August 27, 2018
I LOVE the idea of a phone slot!! Great job Food52, can't wait ot see the final result.
 
Amanda H. August 26, 2018
Thank you all so much for weighing in, and with such conviction! One of the things we love most about the Food52 community is all of the different (and passionate) opinions represented here, and the fact that we can have constructive debates on any topic -- from whether brown sugar or white makes for the best banana bread to the usefulness of a phone slot in a cutting board.<br /><br />In this case, since you haven't actually seen the full cutting board, we want to clarify a few details: the board is indeed double-sided and is a size that falls within what the majority of you asked for. One side has the juice groove and pour spout: this is the side for cutting meat and the like. The other side is flat and is intended for chopping things like an onion or slicing bread. This is the side with the phone slot. The slot is positioned on a corner of the board, and is not necessary to use, just as vegetarians may not use the juice groove.<br /><br />We heard and appreciate what you have to say, and as we continue to develop products, we want to take as much feedback as possible into consideration. In this case, we've weighed the comments on this post against the feedback of our testers, as well as the response of others who have seen/used the final prototype and given us their thoughts, and we're going to move forward with the existing design. We're excited about this board and we think you're going to love it. Please keep sharing your thoughts -- we'll create better products together!
 
suzybel63 August 25, 2018
Seriously? A phone slot? That’s a new one. My phone would be a total mess if it were anywhere near my cutting board.
 
Doris August 27, 2018
My ipad lives in a ziploc bag on a stand on my kitchen counter
 
Alison August 25, 2018
As the OP, I clearly touched a nerve! as some of you suggested, I like the idea of a nice looking, separate phone/iPad holder, at a slightly higher level than the usual docks, for use while cooking. I generally print out recipes, because it is easier to see them while working in the kitchen. The docks and stands I have tried have been a little low for me, or perhaps the wrong angle--admittedly, I am fairly tall, so perhaps others don't have this issue.
 
Brad August 26, 2018
That’s what I do. I have a strong magnet and hang the recipe on my microwave above the stove. It’s at perfect eye level, and it keeps it from getting all messy/unreadable from the counter and my hands.
 
Kathryn L. August 25, 2018
I’m adding my voice to the many home folks who think a phone slot in a cutting board is just wrong. If I’m using a recipe from my phone, I keep my phone away from any mess in my kitchen. I’ll prop it up at the end of my clean counter, away from any food. I would never purchase a cutting board with a phone slot! Seems like a waste of space. I’d rather have a larger board to prep on. I’d love a reversible board! Prep work on one side, cutting cooked and rested food on the other. No phone needed!
 
Bunny August 25, 2018
Nobody even mentioned the fact that your phone is one of the dirtiest things you own, and it is difficult to clean and de-germ. I don't want my phone near my food!
 
MC August 25, 2018
One out of 16 comments in favor of phone slot? Pretty poor favorable percentage, I'd say. Seems like it is a design "feature" in search of a problem. Plus, can you say "health hazard"?? I cringe every time I see some knucklehead take his/her phone into the restroom AND then to hear that person talking on it. Ewwww. 'Nuf said. Never spending money on a "cutting board phone slot".
 
Lindley S. August 25, 2018
Why in the world would you put a phone slot on a cutting board? Pointless. More of a gimmick than a feature. I would never use that.
 
Dianne N. August 25, 2018
There is no way I would ever put my phone near the cutting board. There would be cross contamination from the phone to the board and from the board to the phone. Please omit this feature and keep the space for cutting or for the moat area. If you are anxious for some place to put the phone, maybe the next product you create would be a phone holder at the right height to use in the kitchen -- perhaps it could be convertible for phones, ipads, and mini ipads.
 
lori August 25, 2018
I agree with the others who don’t understand the advantage of having a phone slot. Under no circumstances would I keep my phone in close proximity to spatters, knife damage or food contamination. It would definitely not be a selling point for me.
 
J M. August 25, 2018
OMG, at first product readings /review I thought I was so out of touch with reality. A phone slot? Had I missed out on some new wave cooking method? Thank you other reviewers below for reeling it in. Please, no phone slot, it makes NO sense. Or cents. I would put the development dollars into making the board reversible . The meat juice chanel and pour spout- great idea, but take up extra work space on smaller boards. Flip it over to use for prep cutting .... I’ll buy and shout cudoos with high recommendations to everyone I know.
 
Geri L. August 25, 2018
I think the phone slot is genius! Not everyone is a professional chef, meaning we don't keep recipes in our heads, or can make them up by ingredients on hand. Some of us still need recipes, and to be able to have it right in front of you,(or even a how-to video) helps tremendously. I want one of these, it looks awesome to me, just what a home cook would want!
 
Geri L. August 25, 2018
I have a kindle, I can see it quite well, I never take it in my bathroom, nor talk on it. So, germs aren't a problem. But, I can see everyone's point.
 
cranberry August 25, 2018
I would not buy that board just because of the phone slot. Useless feature that I don't want to pay for. Take your manufacturing costs from that "special" feature, and try to add an inch or two to the size of the board instead.
 
Stacy August 24, 2018
Agree with other commenters - what on earth is the purpose of the phone slot?
 
Matt H. August 24, 2018
You say that the reviews were generally good, but it seems like the reviews were mediocre at best, and the people testing the boards merely thought that the board made do.<br /><br />One of the poorest rated aspects of the board was it's size, but apparently creating a board that's actually useful isn't imperative? Why did you bother soliciting these reviews if you're not going to follow their advice?
 
Smaug October 17, 2018
The advice wasn't exactly what you'd call consistent, and a great deal of it in the impractical to insane range. I think the real problem with this design process was that cutting boards really don't need features- they need to be flat, manageable size and weight, stable- boring stuff, and the upscale market pretty much demands sexy features.
 
Beth M. August 24, 2018
I have been looking for a new cutting board to replace one on its last legs. But a phone slot? Maybe I am just too old but a food spattered phone is just silly. Apply a little more logic to this.
 
BakerBren August 24, 2018
Yes, I concur with the others that a phone slot on a cutting board is a less than inspired idea. I'd rather not impale my iPhone with a chef's knife. And I don't need a phone handy to cook. Last time I checked, meat juices (or any liquid) and phones don't get along.
 
eleise August 24, 2018
A phone slot on a cutting board? Really? I'm surprised you need people to point out to you how ridiculous that is.
 
M August 24, 2018
A smaller size has been chosen for cost reasons, which makes a phone slot all the stranger. Who wants their phone mere inches from messy food work? I keep my iPad and Paprika at least a foot away from active work when cooking or baking, and it still gets a touch soiled.<br /><br />I bought two large and beautiful wood cutting boards for a friend just last year, for under $100, so it will be hard to be competitive, though the pour spout is a great idea.
 
Brad August 24, 2018
I’m wondering about the phone slot...seems gimmicky to me. I don’t need my phone in the cutting board, just somewhere nearby. I don’t need a phone/recipe for the majority of my cooking/cutting. <br />My hands are usually messy when I’m using a chopping board so I would think having it right there would lead me to use it before wiping my hands. Not to mention it creates a nice spot for bacteria to grow that requires attention during cleaning.
 
Smaug August 24, 2018
Well, they looked pretty hard for ways to set these boards apart- I don't remember seeing that one in any of the discussion that I followed, but it is different- seems gimmicky (and ill advised) to me too, but as far as I can see that's the sort of world we live in.