The Wooden Chopping Board Co.

Kitchen gear
The Wooden Chopping Board Co.

The most important things that any half serious cook owns are a couple of good knives.

Not a block of sixteen assorted flimsy efforts from IKEA, but two decent knives – one big cook’s knife and a smaller version – either German or Japanese, their edges honed to a razor-sharp finish on a steel or preferably a whetstone.

These knives are the workhorses of the kitchen. Any cutting task can be accomplished with just those two knives. There are other specialist knives out there that might tempt the eye, and yes, heaving around a great big cleaver (six quid from your local Chinese supermarket) is kinda fun, but none of them are strictly necessary.

Two knives, the best you can afford, German or Japanese, one big, one small.

That’s all.

These knives are pieces of engineering marvel. They’re milled to micrometre level specifications by some of the world’s most skilled manufacturers. Looked after well, they’ll last a lifetime. Looked after poorly, and well, you may have well have just used one of your crappy IKEA knives to shred through £100.

The second most important thing in any serious cook’s kitchen is a chopping board.

The Wooden Chopping Board Company

There’s no more certain way to destroy a decent knife than using the wrong board, and the material that it’s made of is vital. Glass, granite, slate, or any type of kitchen work surface whatsoever are not suitable materials for cutting against. The thought of the edges of any of my knives meeting a glass chopping board fills me with terror.

The only two materials that I’d even consider using are plastic and wood, and plastic only for meat and fish – there’s a minor advantage that you can chuck a plastic board straight in the dishwasher, which is great from a hygiene perspective when handling something like chicken.

That’s not quite enough, though.

The standout king of the chopping board materials is wood. It’s kind to knives, lasts forever, harbours natural antiseptic qualities, is sturdy, beautiful and affordable.

My main chopping board is nearly twenty years old, and gets used every single day, requires little in the way of maintenance , and represents a central practical and aesthetic piece of my kitchen.

There is simply nothing better than a well-made, well-used wooden chopping board, and this one from The Wooden Chopping Board Co. is one of the best.

It’s a gridlock pattern of end-grain black walnut and oak pieces, glued together and milled smooth to a thickness of just under 5cm and a size of 40cm by 28cm, so a substantial and sturdy piece of wood, weighing in at about 3kg. It has rubber feet screwed into the base to keep it still in use, which given the sheer weight of the board, seem a little like overkill – believe me, that board isn’t slipping anywhere at all at that weight.

Walnut isn’t a particularly hard wood, but it can stand a lot of use and still look great. As an end grain cut, that is, the cross-section of the wood is presented upwards as the surface of the board, this board is slightly kinder to a knife than a linear grained board. In use, a knife will actually cut into the wood, sinking into the grain, which will then naturally spring back and ‘heal’. It’s this healing capability that makes wooden chopping boards such an effective and hygienic option … bacteria is literally pushed back out of the board.

As a chopping board, this Wooden Chopping Board Co. board performs just fine. As an object, it’s just stunning.

The contrast of black American walnut and lighter, honey brown English oak is striking and beautiful, and the chess board pattern is attractive and contemporary.

I’ve become slightly addicted to those YouTube woodworking videos recently, the ones that step through the build of something or other in double-quick time, and I understand the time and the technique that goes into a board like this. In short, there needs to be a lot of attention paid to getting each of those blocks shaped to an exact tolerance, before sticking them together and cutting the board out crossways.

It’s not easy, it needs a fair amount of specialist woodworking gear to achieve, and it takes patience.

The results are lovely, and as just one example of a wider range of boards available from The Wooden Chopping Board Co., it’s a fine example of just what they can do.

The Wooden Chopping Board CompanyThis astonishing board was provided by The Wooden Chopping Board Co. for review purposes.

Surviving the barbecue: cheat sheet

Food politics
Surviving the barbecue: cheat sheet post image


Sindhi Gosht

Food & drink
Sindhi Gosht, Madhur Jaffrey

Sometimes, I like simple.

Those meals that are just thrown together with little effort and less thought, the ones that somehow transcend their parts and become something quite wonderful because of either the sheer quality of their ingredients or the application of a transformative cooking process.

This is one such dish – a deep, rich and brilliantly straightforward Asian dish, the sort of dish that everybody should have on standby for those lazy days when nothing much happens.

There are two stages.

A long marinade, and a long, slow cook.


Naturally Nourished, by Sarah Britton

Naturally Nourished, by Sarah Britton

I think I eat too much meat.

I’ve been trying to cut down recently, have a couple of days a week without any meat, and to eat more fish and seafood instead of just, well, red meat, that sort of thing.

My efforts have been moderately successful so far, but I’m hitting a definite limit in my repertoire of vegetarian meals. I’m becoming a little tired of this roasted , good as it is.

The truth is, I’m not terribly good at vegetarian food.

I like to eat vegetarian food, of course, but I’m not very good at making substantial vegetarian meals. It isn’t through want of trying, and I’ve picked up some excellent ideas and dishes from some recently, but there’s always space for more inspiration, no?

And what is the point of the humble cookbook if not to inspire?

Some are better than others. Some work, some don’t.

Here’s one that does.


Saturne, Paris

Eating out
Saturne, Paris, France

Bread is important.

It’s the most fundamental of foods, loaded with symbolism, heavy with tradition, commanding its own rituals and reverence.

Often, you can take one look at the bread that a restaurant serves and work out precisely how good or bad your meal will be. If a kitchen cares not for the bread it serves, it may as well give up, because the game is lost.

I noticed this straight away at Saturne. It was hard not to. We had a table right next to a little bread station, a small alcove to house a thick chopping board, a knife, and a hulking pain de campagne, a great beast of a loaf, cracked and dark in crust, purposeful and elegant in crumb.

A waiter approached the loaf in the manner of a priest approaching an altar, taking the knife and turning the bread towards her. She paused for a long moment as if in prayer, knife balanced above crust, before tearing into the loaf in skillful, practiced sweeps, flipping the bread this way and that to produce substantial slices, to be loaded into linen lined baskets and delivered to tables with haste.

I could stop this here.

This is all you need to know about Saturne. That reverence, that care.

It’s a story for the ages. More…