Making Charcuterie Boards Restaurant Safe? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 52 Old 01-15-2019, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Making Charcuterie Boards Restaurant Safe?

Thanks to Facebook, I received a rather large inquiry from a gentleman starting a restaurant for 15-20 charcuterie boards and 15-20 sandwich serving boards, and a handful of beer flight boards.

I would really like to take this opportunity as it could be worth a few grand, and I have some design ideas.. but, no idea how to price something this large. And he wants to be able to wash them daily. What would you finish them in to be able to do so? Obviously mineral oil isn't enough - what about a clear epoxy? Or?

Would love any advice.
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post #2 of 52 Old 01-15-2019, 09:35 PM
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Unless he's going to soak them, which he shouldn't, then mineral oil will work well. Any finish that hardens will begin flaking off after a while but mineral oil can just be reapplied as often as needed. He can do it or you can offer it as an add-on service 4 times each year or whatever y'all deem necessary.

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post #3 of 52 Old 01-15-2019, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by difalkner View Post
Unless he's going to soak them, which he shouldn't, then mineral oil will work well. Any finish that hardens will begin flaking off after a while but mineral oil can just be reapplied as often as needed. He can do it or you can offer it as an add-on service 4 times each year or whatever y'all deem necessary.

David
Great advice. Thanks David, really appreciate it.
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post #4 of 52 Old 01-15-2019, 10:19 PM
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check with the _local_ health inspectors - in first person, not some web site.
some locales require anything that comes in contact with food be NSF certified, some require anything wood to go thru the dishwasher/sanitizing cycle, etc.
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post #5 of 52 Old 01-15-2019, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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check with the _local_ health inspectors - in first person, not some web site.
some locales require anything that comes in contact with food be NSF certified, some require anything wood to go thru the dishwasher/sanitizing cycle, etc.
Great advice - Is this something you recommend i should do, or something the business owner should be familiar with?
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post #6 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 08:05 AM
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Great advice - Is this something you recommend i should do, or something the business owner should be familiar with?
Strictly speaking, thats on the business owner to do, its their job to make sure their business is in line with local laws, its your jobs to provide hem the product they ask for. That said though, its not a bad idea to look into it, just to make sure that you wont be liable should anything happen. Seems like personal responsibility isnt a personal thing anymore, and you dont want to be in a situation where this guys customers are getting sick and he sues you.

Make sure that you leave the final decision on anything up to the client, and get it in writing
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post #7 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 09:56 AM
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ref "...Is this something you recommend i should do,"

Oh, hi DataComGuy! say you know those sandwich boards you dropped off the other day?
well, the health inspector came through the other day and said the wood is a no-no - so I won't be needing the charcuterie boards you brought over today. sorry, I meant to call you earlier.


makes for uncomfortable moments - so just be sure the answer is known from a reliable source....
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post #8 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 10:03 AM
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When a sales rep, I made sure I knew as much as possible about regs etc.
Make sure the customer always comes to you first for almost anything.
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post #9 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 11:10 AM
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Just to add a note, he's going to get them from somewhere so yes, being informed will help. Even if he just orders from a restaurant supplier off their shelf he's going to get them. Is there a way to find out what other restaurants in your area have done in acquiring these boards, assuming there are others? Maybe in asking you'll pick up new customers but you'll also learn what others have done.

Just make sure you stay in front of him to provide what he needs. If he specifies a finish then use that finish. You can certainly enlighten him on the different finishes and what they bring to the table (pun intended ) but get his choices and the order in writing.

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post #10 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 12:58 PM
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If the wood is joined and glued it won't survive a commercial dishwasher. My wife has ruined three cutting boards this way; told her not to put them in the DW. Now I have a good supply of maple pen blanks.
Just to be safe- call the health inspector yourself and get their statement. My wife was director of our church day care and the health inspector was great but some can be real picky.

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post #11 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
Strictly speaking, thats on the business owner to do, its their job to make sure their business is in line with local laws, its your jobs to provide hem the product they ask for. That said though, its not a bad idea to look into it, just to make sure that you wont be liable should anything happen. Seems like personal responsibility isnt a personal thing anymore, and you dont want to be in a situation where this guys customers are getting sick and he sues you.

Make sure that you leave the final decision on anything up to the client, and get it in writing



This is absolutely good advise.


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post #12 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 01:51 PM
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This company supplies boards and also this board-preserving-wax for them to use:

https://www.muskokawoodworking.ca/co...preserving-wax

Once you get the regulations figured out and you supply them, perhaps offer a follow up service where you treat their boards as needed for an appropriate fee.

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post #13 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 04:31 PM
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At least in my area, wood products that come in contact with food can be cleaned with a simple wipe down using a sanitizing solution like star-san. I have a friend in the restaurant industry(serves pizza on wooden paddles) and he's got the ok from health inspectors for this method of cleaning. The local health inspector is the final approval authority and every one tends to be a bit eccentric on what they will and won't allow. I agree that this is something the owner should do and definitely get everything in writing. I do most of my business by email so I have records of every conversation when designing a piece.

I would stick with mineral oil or walnut oil for the finish depending on the type of wood you are using and just reapply a bit more often. Wood is always going to be high maintenance and you want something that doesn't give off any smell or taste to the food served on it.
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post #14 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 07:36 PM
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would stick with mineral oil or walnut oil for the finish depending on the type of wood you are using and just reapply a bit more often. Wood is always going to be high maintenance and you want something that doesn't give off any smell or taste to the food served on it.

The one bit of that i have to disagree with is using walnut oil as a finish. Theres always the possibility of a nut allergy being triggered by anything related to said nuts, even with the oil. Now, oils that have been process a certain way, like the walnut oil used for finishing, are supposed to be treated in a way that denatures the proteins responsible for the allergic reaction, but as someone with a severe peanut allergy, i would caution you that its not worth the risk when theres a much safer option. Stick with the mineral oil, anaphylaxis is a bad way to go
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post #15 of 52 Old 01-16-2019, 10:51 PM
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Nobody seems to have an allergic reaction to olive oil.

Food-grade mineral oil is probably about as neutral as it gets.


Olive oil is all I have ever used in the hot-oil finishing of kitchen woods of any kind.
With a junk steam-iron, a beeswax finish would be quick.
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post #16 of 52 Old 01-17-2019, 12:46 AM
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My Advice...Big NO!!! to plastics of any kind...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DatacomGuy View Post
Thanks to Facebook, I received a rather large inquiry from a gentleman starting a restaurant for 15-20 charcuterie boards and 15-20 sandwich serving boards, and a handful of beer flight boards.

I would really like to take this opportunity as it could be worth a few grand, and I have some design ideas.. but, no idea how to price something this large. And he wants to be able to wash them daily. What would you finish them in to be able to do so? Obviously mineral oil isn't enough - what about a clear epoxy? Or?

Would love any advice.
First, let me validate my perspectives on this topic and why I draw the conclusions I offer...

I have been a traditional woodworker for over 40 years, much of that while working within other professions, but always keeping my hand on the professional side of it. One of the most sought-after items is those for the Kitchen and the ubiquitous "Butcher Blocks" "Cutting Boards" and "Charcuterie" being asked for most often...

I have gotten to watch the complete evolution of these over time from "plastic is best" in the late 70's and 80's...until we all learned through the events of actual human deaths, that plastic actually can (once cut on enough and not properly cleaned) grow bacteria in all the cut marts to the point of being unserviceable. This can happen at a very alarming rate!!! Even though many are still in service, little can change a human habit once formed, so many still cut on plastic. Then studies came out proving the logic of our forebears that "wood is good" because there are some species (Acer Species...aka Maples and related) that actually have antimicrobial properties within the wood itself, and cleaning them is nothing more than vinegar and/or citric acid. I have designed and made everything from working Harvest Tables to full-on professional "stump style" and "butch blocking" traditional cutting surfaces for everything from Butchery, and Bakery, to Abattoir facilities. That history is what facilitated the advice below offered.

Hands down, the best wood for "cutting surfaces" are going to be Acer spp (Maples) and related species. Its been that way for millenia, and only the last 100 have we "experimented" with other materials and woods. Most of which don't come close to the performance of Maple and many are just plain bad to use.

As to construction, I promote "End Grain" orientation whenever possible. If on the flat...bark up only!!!!...as this has the shortest fiber pattern exposure (aka splinters) and follows the traditional adage of: "use wood as it stands living or fall in the forest." That's not a hard and fast rule but a very dominantly found tradition with very strong logic behind it. If wood is used for a cutting board (or a floorboard) with the "pith side up" the splinters get longer and the fiber structure can trap liquids down inside the wood!!! My minimum thickness for 90% of what I design and/or make for a cutting board is 100mm and I prefer actual "stump style" blocks at 300mm or greater since these can be resurfaced and last over 100 years in continued use. For Charcuterie and related my minimum is 40mm. I prefer green wood over "kiln dried" (by today's standards in woodworking), and joinery over glues whenever possible...

As to finishes, I only use food grade oils and beeswax for all but the cutting surface. There are countless blends out there, but just plain pure food grade Tung or Flax oil rubbed into the wood is standard by many. Beeswax cut in with citrus oil which also is a great cleaning agent in its own right. Note that some Chief and others do not want any "drying oil" used on their boards...at all!!! I support this and understand the reason, as they can trap bacteria and/or taint the flavor of the food. Some want it just bare wood, while others (me included) will use Coconut oil (my all time favorite) or Olive Oil which both have been used for over 1000 years. As to going rancid...NO, they do not...IF...the surface is cleaned properly after each use and wiped down with fresh oil that is blotted off with warm water...

I would note, the reason Coconut Oil is one of (if not my primary) favorite oils for food prep surfaces is its very neutral affect as a food grade/based "non-drying oil." Even more so than Olive Oil. Anaphylaxis is extremely rare with coconut oils, (I have never heard or read of it happening) and one of the reasons it has been used safely for so long historically. Contact dermatitis is also virtual nonexistent with Coconut Oils....Nothing is 100% safe...other than dry wood, which some do prefer.

Mineral Oil treatment are a "new concept" based more on trend (and the petroleum industry pushing byproduct onto the market to boost profits) than in a good practice based on known (and proven) traditions. I know of few Chiefs that would ever tolerate mineral oil ever getting anywhere near a dish they are preparing. Mineral oils are not a material of "food"...they have (depending on manufacture) very strong tastes/flavors, and are actually a laxative. Not a quality I personally want around food or food prep surfaces. Mineral Oils are touted as colorless and odorless but do have a strong flavor, especially to those with sensitive palates. As a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline they really have no place near food preparation surfaces in my (et al) view. It's long been used as a common ingredient in lotions, creams, ointments, and cosmetics, but even these are now being determined to be poor for human skin contact over duration. It's lightweight and inexpensive for industry to manufacture from waste byproduct and that is the main reason it has been so thoroughly marketed in many products of modernity. For me, and what I have seen, this is one of those materials that came into fashion based on "marketing" not from actual good practice or proven long standing tradition...

Before I end this post, let me speak to the other woods often used, that probably shouldn't be. One of the most common currently isn't a wood at all...Its a grass!!...and that would be Bamboo. Now I love bamboo, and it is a pretty cool material, to say the least. Why don't I like it for cutting boards? The main reason is it dulls the crap out of good knives because of the natural silica content in the cell structure of the plant. I also know that many fall apart because they are not made well. Like most (if not all) good cutting surfaces...END GRAIN IS BEST!!!...and if I make one of Bamboo (I have made a few lite duty ones), it is only made with an "end grain" orientation. Channeling in the surface needs to be of a nature (like U channel) that can be cleaned well and easily if these are used at all. I don't recommend them nor put them on my projects unless specifically requested.

The next group is "nut woods." I don't recommend any of these typically because of allergic reactions and toxicity, as well as, tainting the flavor of foods, which they can do. These same reasons are why I personally do not ever recommend tropical or other "unknown" hardwoods, as many of these too can taint flavor or have toxins in them or the potential to. Cherry to has a distinct flavor to those with sensitive palates, as well as silicate in the fibers. Oaks and related species are entirely too full of tannic acid, and are "open-celled" which is not a good thing to have on a most types of cutting boards. There are exceptions for such as end grain orientation Quercus alba (White Oak) species, and only for such things as the culinary arts aimed primarily at Smoke, Barbecued meats, and cold cuts...but hat is a very niche area of cuisine usually.

Good Luck with your project!

j

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post #17 of 52 Old 01-17-2019, 08:52 AM
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I'll check with the wife regarding her experiences with the health inspector over about 15 years. She just said there was no problem as they never had wood in the kitchen.

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post #18 of 52 Old 01-17-2019, 09:10 AM
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the theory that mineral oil is not suitable around foodstuff is absolute and utter nonsense.


the theory that a health inspector from any other jurisdiction other than the eatery is a reliable source is exceedingly bad advice. first because 'the rules' are all local and vary from none to nonsense, second because inspectors are famous for having opinions and basing enforcement on unusual interpretations of 'the rules.'
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post #19 of 52 Old 01-17-2019, 02:16 PM
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I carved 70 spoons and 30 forks in birch. I pulled spoke shaves more than a mile to round off the handles.
Everything got a 325F olive oil finish which cannot be washed off and cannot go rancid(myth).
Not even as I was stirring boiling rice last night.



We have a "Food Safe" Certification program here, normally required even for entry level work in the food industry.
It's more for the people and makes no mention of prep tool qualities.
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post #20 of 52 Old 01-17-2019, 06:45 PM
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Several years ago we had a half-used bottle of olive oil in the pantry and didn't realize it was there. When we opened it I gotta' say it was a rancid as can be - horrible! So yes, olive oil will go rancid. Will it go rancid when spread thin and soaked into wood? I don't think so. That's not a scientific test but in the bottle it will definitely go rancid.

David
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