Design 5 Swoon Worthy Things:


As a designer who is often found in the kitchen, I am always looking at the varying ways form and function intersect. A beautifully crafted and completely functional cutting board is an absolute essential for the design-oriented chef — so Food52’s newly launched Five-Two double sided cutting board inevitably became a total workhorse in my kitchen. Read below for my conversation with the Food52 founders, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, as we discuss their new Five Two line, their go-to meals, and their unique design process for this stellar cutting board.  Link to my absolutely fave swordfish recipe with roasted lemons and olive-raisin chutney here!


Name: Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

Profession: Co-founders of Food52

How was Food52 born?  
A: In the kitchen, naturally! While testing recipes for a cookbook project, we did a lot of chit-chatting about things that were happening in the industry and over time the idea for Food52 developed into something we felt we had to do.

Go-To weeknight meal?
A: If I haven’t cooked ahead of time, then I’m likely to make fish or steak tacos, or a twist on tuna nicoise with whatever vegetables I have on hand, some eggs, jarred tuna, and Roberta’s roasted garlic dressing.

M: When it’s warm enough to grill, we grill steak, slice it thinly and serve it over arugula with lemon, olive oil and parmesan. In the winter, I usually have some kind of stew or bolognese on hand, which I might serve with pasta or rice, or over baked sweet potatoes.



Culinary Philosophy? 
A: Embrace the fact that no one ever masters cooking, because this is what makes it relentlessly interesting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding. 

M: Don’t take things too seriously or dwell on your mistakes — this isn’t life or death.

Design aesthetic in three words? 
A: Textures, natural materials, old+new (I think that’s five words, sorry!)

M: Uncluttered, sun-drenched, comfortable

For me, the parallels between food and design continually intersect  — Do you find similarities in your world? 
A&M: We share a fondness for special objects, things that aren’t technically art but can be treated as such. For example, we both collect little dishes and use them for display as well as function, choosing one or two at a time to put on a mantel or a shelf and giving them plenty of space and air. Both at home and at Food52, we’ve applied this same aesthetic to how we style food — we gravitate towards neutral shades and subtle patterns when it comes to dishes and serveware so the food itself is what shines, and we try not to crowd too many elements onto the plate.


What constitutes the perfect marriage between function and design in kitchen tools? 
A: When something works well and pleases you to hold or look at. When you think about it, this isn’t that much to ask of things that you rely on every day.

Can you share the initial vision for the Five Two line? 
A&M: Kitchen and home goods are a category that hasn’t modernized and given voice to its shoppers. And yet, Americans are now spending more money on their homes than they are on clothing! This needs to change, and we’re uniquely positioned as a brand to make it happen. We wanted to involve our community in the design process of every product — something that’s never been done before. Our goal is to give people a voice in the design of the objects in their homes, just like we gave them a voice in the creation of recipes and content. In doing so, we plan to reimagine every room in the house and remake everything in it — from cookware to pillows to flatware!  


How did you engage your readers in designing the maple cutting board? 
A&M: Using our own expertise, data from our Shop, as well as knowledge about the manufacturing of cutting boards, we created 11 questions touching on all the different elements of a wooden cutting board — everything from material to shape to price to use. We wanted to understand what people really value most in a cutting board and then we used this information to help us make vital decisions about the design.

Can you share the journey as you navigated the design process? 
A: One of the delightful surprises was just how passionate people are about cutting boards. Not only did more than 10,000 people complete the survey, but more than 5,000 of them filled out the one open field that asked them to share any ideas that weren’t addressed in the previous (multiple choice) questions. We got so many great ideas and you could see patterns in people’s responses. A juice groove, we realized, was a feature we’d have to include, and our community of efficient cooks made it clear that they wanted to make use of both sides of the board. That’s how we ended up with a double-sided cutting board.

  1. Five Two Double-Sided Cutting Board: I love how thoughtfully designed the board is — light weight, easy to handle, the clever iPhone holder is simply genius, and the multi functionality for cutting, serving and slicing.

  2. Swiss Slotted Chef Walnut TurnerThe humble fish turner is often overlooked, but this spindly slotted tool is good for more than its name implies: That lightweight and generously-sized construction made for flipping delicate fish fillets also works on fluffy pancakes and tender crepes. How about meatloaf or an omelette? And yes, if you’re making fish, it’s the perfect tool to have on hand.

  3. Staub Cast Iron Fry Pan with Beechwood Handle: It’s your classic cast iron pan with a modern twist—a beechwood handle that stays cool to the touch while you cook! The enameled cast iron interior has tiny bits of quartz for a texture that gets a top notch sear on chicken breasts and beautifully browns potatoes. 

  4. Heirloomed Linen Tea TowelsAdd some rustic charm to dinner. Every kitchen needs a solid set of tea towels — we’re all about the feeling of fresh linen.

  5. Silicone Kitchen Spoons: These spoons are functional in ways home cooks actually need kitchen tools to be. The mini spoon is just the right size for getting those last bits out of jam jars, the ultimate spoon is the one we turn to for stirring and serving sauces and stews, and the perforated spoon is patterned with holes that allow for precise straining and skimming—in addition to all the lovable features of the regular spoon. You’ll never look at this basic utensil the same way again.


Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

What makes the board unique? 

M: It has so many great features, inspired in large part by community feedback and ideas. People said they wanted a board that was easy to pick up and move around, so we gave it beveled edges, which are not only functional but also give the board a refined appearance. We gave it a deep juice groove, per many requests from our community, as well as a pour spout to make draining the groove easy and painless. As a little bonus, we engineered a handy slot that holds your phone so you can reference a recipe while you cook; it also keeps eggs and other mischievous items from rolling off the counter.

5 kitchen tools you cannot live without?  

A: My meat pounder; double-handed oven mitts; silicone storage bags; a sturdy GIR rubber spatula; and Rosti Mepal mixing bowls (with rubber gasket base, pour spout, and lid).

M: Mini whisk; wooden citrus reamer; microplane grater; salad spinner; a great pair of tongs.

What is the singular item every home cook should splurge on / invest in? 

A: A powerful stove — it makes cooking more efficient and food cooks better when you have a strong, precise heat source.

M: A food processor. If you make use of all the attachments and extra blades, you can do so much more than just chop and blend.

Food52 continues to evolve and expand in the most thoughtful and organic ways — what’s next for the brand? 

A&M: We produced our first issue of a magazine-catalog — we’re calling it our “Nifty Gifty Holiday Guide” — that’s shipping out this month. We’re planning to produce more issues, each with its own useful theme, a few times a year. And to respond to our community’s interest in home goods and content, we’re in the process of deeply expanding and reimagining our home and design coverage — more soon!

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