Teak cutting boards add flair to food

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Teak cutting boards are unique with naturally grown texture, shape and size. SUPPLIED

Though the use of beautiful-looking luxury kitchen utensils doesn’t do anything to improve anyone’s cooking, equipping a kitchen with them will still tend to make for a happier chef and encourage them to spend more time making home cooked meals.

The unique natural-textured teak cutting boards handmade in Ratanakiri province by Cambodian company VM Luxurious Cutting Board not only serve as a durable kitchen surface for chopping meat or vegetables, they can also be used in the food’s presentation as a substitute for a regular dish.

Foodies and cooks who prefer a natural look have made teak cutting boards a trendy item. It’s best suited to steak, salmon and seafood and it can easily be taken along on camping trips or family picnics.

“I’m overflowing with ideas for designing cutting boards into different shapes I guess because I’m a business man. I think of ways everyday to earn more profits and fill the customers’ demands or follow the latest trends. Honestly, our test marketing online has just been this month but we’ve gotten loads of feedback from customers,” Sirey Muny, the founder of VM Luxurious Cutting Board tells The Post.

Their teak cutting boards come in various shapes other than the standard rectangular one. Sirey has some that are shaped like an iPhone. The texture of the wood is also important as it means different things to people depending on their preferences and interpretations.

“The uniqueness is in the teak tree itself because it has a natural print, the eye and the heartwood, which looks like someone has carved it. Some resemble the sunrise, butterflies, eagles or even human images. That’s why each natural design becomes the one and only board of its type in the world. Moreover, teak has no toxic resin that can cause harm to people’s health,” Sirey says.

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Salmon on a teak cutting board. The boards can be used to cut meat or serve meals. SUPPLIED

It’s a luxurious cutting board that has an original natural design to it and no chemicals are used to treat the wood in the manufacturing process. They are also naturally very durable.

The VM brand has three main types of cutting board: 3cm with 20cm diameter, 4cm with 20cm and 5cm with 30cm. Prices range from $9.99 to $29.99.

There are also huge ones available on request measuring 70cm to 90cm that cost a staggering price of around $7,000. Sirey emphasizes that the prices depend on the size and other factors.

“Most of the shapes come with their own natural design. Still, that doesn’t mean that we get the desired cutting board the moment it is cut from the tree. It still needs to go through a process.

“The artisans have to dry the wood in a drying machine and then cut the skin off, polish it and dry it again before finishing them by applying olive oil to make it smooth and shiny,” he says.

His first attempt at selling online bombed. He says at the moment he still wants to focus on quality, delivery service, renovating his shop to make it easier for customers who wish to see them in person and he’s in the process of registering with the Ministry of Commerce as a producer of handiworks.

Sirey says he’s playing it by ear for now but his target provinces for expansion are Battambang, Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh before considering exporting abroad.

“For now we actually don’t even have enough to meet the customers’ demands. We can only produce around 2000 cutting boards per month. It’s a business we started in the Covid era so we want to proceed with caution,” he says.

Sirey’s future ambition for handcrafted items he says he hopes to popularize the concept of replacing fragile dishes with teak cutting boards to reduce expenses and give things a more natural look.

Sirey’s business partner has owned a hundred hectares of teak in Rattanakiri for over 22 years and the cutting board business is one way to take advantage of it.

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Sirey Muny (right) and his business partner who have planted teak on a hundred hectares in Ratanakiri Province. SUPPLIED

“In Cambodia, ours is the only location where we grow, cut and produce [timber] right from our own farm. Teak can be both agro-tourism and agro-industry. We can produce goods with it and also attract tourists. It contributes to reducing deforestation and protecting the environment.

“Moreover, it’s a luxury wood that takes fewer years to reach the age it can be used at compared to other trees. And after being cut down, it can grow again and again,” Sirey says.

Apart from the goal of supplying the cutting boards, Sirey wants to encourage people to use teak instead of using other bigger trees to make their furniture because teak can be made into just about anything such as cupboards, tables or chairs.

“There’s a lot more it can be used for if you get creative with it and it has the same qualities of other luxury woods, but because our teak is farmed it helps the environment,” Sirey says.

Sirey guarantees that anyone who tries his products will be happy with their luxurious look and feel and their long-lasting durability.

“We want to say thank you to all of the customers that understand how beneficial this tree can be with reducing deforestation and encouraging environmentally-friendly industries,” Sirey says.

Sirey also mentions that supporting his business will provide enhanced job opportunities for Cambodians.

“We are able to provide jobs for around 50 workers at the moment and we hope to hire more and more. We want to push people to understand that creatively using teak will provide Cambodia with a good opportunity to compete in the Asian market,” Sirey says.