Today's cutting boards are all about color and style. Throw resilient, hygienic and dishwasher-safe polyethylene into the mix and you've elevated slicing and dicing from mundane to fun.
Dorie Greenspan, who writes the "Tools of the Trade" column for Bon Appetit magazine, still likes wooden boards best for slicing bread and carving fully cooked meats, but recommends boards made from the new materials for other kitchen chores.
Bamboo: this sustainable natural resource is harder than maple, and cutting boards made from bamboo are so beautiful you can use them as serving platters. Find them online at www.surlatable.com.
Polyethylene: This is the material to pick for serious kitchen work. It's resilient so it won't harm your knives, it goes in the dishwasher, it's nearly indestructible, reasonably priced, and it comes in lots of bright colors. Do as professional kitchens do and use a different color for different tasks and you won't worry about raw chicken juices contaminating your broccoli.
One of the slickest set-ups around is made by Furitechnics. Six flexible, color-coded polyethylene mats fit into a sturdy, solid poly base. After chopping on the appropriate mat you simply lift it from the base, fold it into a funnel and slide the ingredients directly into your pan or bowl. It's simple, hygienic, colorful and fun. The complete kit runs $70 to $80. Check at www.furitechnics.com for stores.