The 7 Best Chef’s Knives of 2019
Because every cook—home and professional alike—needs their very own kitchen BFF.
We haven’t officially met—I’m Shakti, the content lead here at Blueprint (also known as The Voice Behind Blueprint Guides). An important part of my job is researching and writing reviews for our most popular registry products, but I’m usually behind the scenes. This time, however, we have a special occasion where I felt talking to our readers directly would have more impact.
A little backstory…
Once upon a time, before my content days, I worked in the culinary world. I went to culinary school, worked in catering, restaurant kitchens, and finally as a private chef. After years of cooking professionally, I made a big career switch and eventually landed myself as the content lead at Blueprint Registry.
At Blueprint, we believe researched product reviews are valuable resources to registrants looking for products that fit their lifestyle. With all the products and information on the internet, it can be overwhelming—especially when it comes to kitchen tools. I love reviewing products for our readers and, because of my professional background, I relish any opportunity to review products for home kitchens.
If you’re familiar with Blueprint Registry, you know about our wonderful partnership with Food52. You can shop tons of their products in our catalog, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Food52 is an incredible resource for all things cooking and kitchen, home decor, and lifestyle. With such a loyal and engaged community, they had the brilliant idea for a new kitchen product line designed from surveying tens of thousands of their readers. Released product by product, they introduced Five Two by Food52 in 2018.
So on a call several months ago, our Food52 friends got wind of my former career. They were about to launch their new line, and generously offered to send me their first product to test and review, The Five Two Double-Sided Cutting Board.
Needless to say, I’ve used a lot of cutting boards in my day. I’ve learned through school and practical experience what types of boards are best for various purposes, what elements and features I personally prefer, and ultimately what I find the most practical and comfortable. It may not seem like it at face value, but a cutting board isn’t just a cutting board—and the folks at Food52 understood that when designing the first product in the Five Two line.
When preparing to review the cutting board, I brainstormed an array of tests that I felt were important, including:
After I decided what elements and techniques I wanted to test for, I plugged in ingredients and created a recipe around it. After all, hard work merits a snack. You can find the recipe for my Kale Caesar Salad with Anchovy Butter Roast Chicken after the review!
But before jumping into the review, however, I want to highlight the specs and features of the Five-Two Double-Sided Cutting Board.
As soon as I pulled the cutting board out of the box, I was blown away by how stunning it was. It was easily the most beautiful cutting board I’d ever owned. I’ve always wanted a solid wood cutting board for myself, but could never seem to pull the trigger when shopping. Great wood cutting boards don’t come cheap.
In the culinary world, Boos cutting boards have maintained their status as the best of the best. Since I am at times, admittedly, a kitchen snob (I’m not proud of it) my eyes had always been set on one of those. But after setting the Five Two cutting board on my counter, feeling its weight and breathing it in, I thought for the first time that maybe this board could be The One.
The board is made of solid maple. It’s heavy. It has an endearing “unpolished, just sanded” look and feel to it. But looks and superficial first impressions aside, I was beyond ready to get to cutting.
Chopping, mincing, and mashing—oh my!
Most of what we do on a cutting board is prepping our ingredients for our mise en place. Mise en place is French for “everything in its place”, a concept that was drilled into my brain in culinary school. Any efficient cook knows that having your ingredients and tools ready to go makes for a far easier cooking process, and especially so in the hustle and bustle of restaurant kitchens. Even Marie Kondo would agree that a tidy home kitchen includes an expert mise en place before cooking.
Just like I learned about mise en place, I learned about speed. Chopping and mincing was a skill that was expected to be mastered to the point where we could do it quickly, even if we weren’t looking. Still, no matter the speed you’re chopping, the surface should never budge.
Although the Five Two cutting board didn’t have its own anti-slip grip, it’s sturdy and it’s heavy. So long as it’s taken proper care of, the wood won’t warp and will sit evenly on the counter. I still recommend, however, to place a slightly damp kitchen towel underneath to keep the board steady.
To test pressure, I used a mashing technique to make a paste of anchovy fillets, garlic, and kosher salt (pictured above). With a damp towel holding the board steady, I had no issues laying on the pressure. This technique can be difficult with uneven or warped boards, so it was incredibly satisfying to smear it in an even layer without any wobbling.
Carving juicy meats
I realized immediately that unless I was carving meats or slicing juicy foods (like a plump grapefruit or tomato), I preferred the side without the grooved perimeter. I like to have as much space as possible when working on a board, and found the grooves took a little bit of the work surface away.
However, when it came to carving a roast chicken, boy howdy did the grooves perform. Not a single drop of precious chicken jus was wasted and the pour spout made it easier than ever to transfer it to another dish. With minimal effort, I arranged the chicken on the board to present it to my single luncheon guest Alexa (Blueprint’s social media manager and merchandising assistant), who was photographing me as I tested the board. It was perfect.
I’m personally not comfortable working with raw meats on wood cutting boards as a general rule. I developed this rule when getting my OSHA food safety certification in culinary school. I’m aware that solid, nonporous woods (like this one) are probably safe to use with raw meats, so long as they’re cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Maybe someday I’ll venture out of my comfort zone. Until then, plastic cutting boards for raw meats is the life for me.
Working from a recipe
I had all the ingredients jotted down on my phone for the purpose of testing out the phone slot on the non-grooved side of the cutting board. It held my iPhone fabulously, and even held my standard-sized iPad vertically (horizontal was just slightly too large). I would imagine that the phone slot also holds smaller tablets just as well.
Once I didn’t need my phone anymore, the little groove held the two eggs I would need a bit later, which was incredibly satisfying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lazily placed eggs on the counter to watch helplessly as they fall onto the floor. Absolutely tragic.
I love serveware, something I get from my mom. There’s something about the extreme satisfaction of having the perfect vessel to present food I made with so much passion. I love family-style eating, and a gorgeous tablescape can—literally—bring me to tears.
So after carving the roast chicken for my recipe, and without a huge effort to arrange it, both Alexa and I were completely dazzled with how it looked on the cutting board. It was beautiful! All it needed was a garnish to be perfect.
Although I didn’t plate the final dish on the cutting board itself, I was already imagining my next cheese platter and the rib roast I was planning to make for Christmas. This board will definitely be a heavy hitter in my plating repertoire.
A lot of people are swayed away from wood cutting boards because they require a little extra TLC to care for. Although it’s true that they need a bit more attention than other materials, it shouldn’t deter you from owning one. So long as you’re diligent, your board will last you a long time.
Cleaning the board was simple enough—just some warm water, gentle dish soap, and a bit of scrubbing will do it. I prefer a mildly scented, all natural, non-toxic dish soap if available. Food52 also recommends using mineral oil on the board when it starts to feel dry. After about a month and a half of consistent use as of today, I do feel like the board is due a light oil massage in the near future. Cue Kenny G.
This cutting board is beautiful and multi-functional, but does require a bit of more storage space than other cutting boards. I keep most of my plastic cutting boards behind my kitchen sink so they can drip dry, but of course, that’s not where I would store a wood board. Because I use it regularly, I don’t mind keeping it permanently on my kitchen counter.
I’m smitten with this board, but it’s not perfect—at least not for all my personal preferences, which I know is a very tall order. I want to be clear, however, that the parts that don’t dazzle me are minuscule compared to the elements I do love. Still, I’d like to explain further.
My first holdup is that the board slips without something to hold it steady underneath. In my haste recently, I went to thinly slice some cucumber for a sandwich (excellent crunch factor), thinking it would be super quick and I could skip the damp towel underneath the board. Unfortunately, as soon as I got some momentum, the board began to slip. Don’t be like me, everyone. Use a damp towel underneath your cutting boards always.
Because the board is double-sided, I fully understand that the lack of grip was intentional. But because I’ll mostly use just one side of the board, I would have liked a little non-slip grip somewhere.
The last element that folks should consider is storage. I live in a small apartment and my partner and I constantly have to get creative with our space, especially in the kitchen. For now, the board is on our counter because we use it quite a bit, but truth be told I don’t really have anywhere else to put it. If you have counter space to spare, it could live there as long as it doesn’t get in your way. But for those who live in smaller spaces, think about where you’ll keep it before buying. Or get it anyway, I won’t judge!
I have been a huge fan of Food52 for a very long time. So when I got to talk to their awesome content people and received this board, I fangirled. Hard. I’m inclined to love the new Five Two products because I’ve already loved Food52 as a brand, but I’m doing my best to be impartial.
This board is fantastic. It’s stunning, multi-functional, and easy to maintain. The little holdups I have have not stopped me from using it more than any other cutting board I own. In fact, I’ve started using it for baking, too—rolling and kneading doughs on it, among other things.
All in all, I’m confident the Five Two Double-Sided Cutting Board is a wonderful addition to any kitchen and wedding registry. I feel a bit of pride having one of my dream kitchen tools sitting so pretty on my counter.
Big thanks to our friends at Food52 for giving me the opportunity to review the first product in the Five Two line. Based on this board alone, we’re in for a big treat as Five Two continues to roll out amazing products.
Note: The Five Two Double-Sided Cutting Board is currently unavailable. Until then, check out the selection of awesome cutting boards in our catalog and stay tuned for more product reviews!