6:01 PM Derek , 0 Comments
The food scene is full of artists. Chefs and photographers often get top billing, but they can be found in every facet of the industry. Though maybe not the first artisans to come to mind, woodworkers have carved out their own niche with the evolution of artfully crafted butcher blocks.
Brooklyn artist, Nils Wessell, is at the forefront of this movement with his company, Brooklyn Butcher Blocks. Nils is a formally trained (Bard College) studio artist and sculptor who literally bounced from coast to coast in pursuit of an art career. He eventually settled in Brooklyn and apprenticed at Cut Brooklyn, a high end knife maker. While there, he focused his art on woodworking making components for knives and experimenting with various other projects in his spare time.
Seeing a demand for well crafted end grain butcher blocks, Nils put his skills to work and Brooklyn Butcher Blocks was born. While still a relatively small operation, BBB now supplies restaurants, chefs and home cooks all over the country and internationally. Major publications like The New York Times, Esquire, GQ and Bon Appetit have taken notice.
I stumbled upon BBB while doing a web search for end grain boards. Nils' signature walnut brick work board caught my eye immediately. This beautifully crafted board is designed to reflect the plentiful historic brick buildings that comprise most of Brooklyn's landscape.
Nils was kind enough to send both the brick work board and another signature product, a cherry meat board. Nils admitted that these were his favorite items in BBB's continually expanding product catalog. Each is very unique and represents a conscious commitment to both artful craftsmanship and functionality.
My particular brickwork board is a stunning dark walnut and measures 12 x 18 x 2. Various size and wood options are available. The beauty of working with BBB is that Nils can create pretty much anything you can dream up. For me, this size is perfect. It's great for our limited counter space, but still big enough for displaying larger cuts of meat (Ribs, Brisket). The weight is also much more manageable than my old maple end grain board of the same size.
Their are no legs on the board so it lays flat on the counter. On one hand, this is great because it provides double the surface area, just flip and re-use. On the other hand, large boards generally sit stationary on counter tops for long periods of time. Therefore, it's important to keep the moisture under and around the board in check.
One thing I've noticed about this board is that the scratches left behind by the knife's blade are slightly more noticeable than on my maple board. I've been using the board regularly for a couple of weeks. The cut marks are slight, but noticeable if you look closely. Thankfully, as I previously mentioned, the board is reversible so any wear and tear can be kept to one side. Having only owned one end grain board previously, I'm not sure whether the increased wear visibility can be attributed to the actual wood type or simply the darker color.
Meat Serving Board:
I wasn't entirely sure what to make of the meat board when it arrived. It's such a stark contrast to the polished, elegant brick work board. My cherry meat board is rustic and roughly hand sanded. Meat serving boards are generally 9.5 x 12 x 2 and produced from reclaimed wood (your choice). The board is intended as an individual serving plate for carnal cuts like steaks and chops.
Nils sells these, predominantly in cherry, to upscale steakhouses and discerning chefs. He also mentioned that it's his favorite way of eating and displaying a steak. I have to agree with him. I grilled up a gorgeous T-Bone immediately after receiving the board. I'm not sure if the board made the steak look great or the steak made the board look great. Either way, it was exceptional presentation.
I've reviewed dozens of cool tools and gadgets from the BBQ world. Some have been beautiful and others functional. Nothing has come close to blending form and function the way BBB's boards have. Brickwork and meat serving boards are exceptional, but they're only a small portion of BBB's product line. Nils churns out everything from tables and chairs to countertops and beer mugs. He even makes a custom board designed to hold your favorite tablet, iBlock.
Admittedly, the beautifully crafted products from BBB are luxury items. However, for serious cooks that are concerned with presentation, these kinds of boards are essential. You won't find any better than Brooklyn Butcher Blocks. Check out their entire product line at www.brooklynbutcherblocks.com. They can generally turn around standard orders in just a few days. If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, drop Nils a line via email or social media. As I said before, custom projects are not a problem. In fact, I suspect Nils would enjoy the challenge.
Rating: 5 Stars