In September 2000 as a keen home cook I was watching a young Jamie Oliver on his cooking show The Naked Chef. Much of his preparation took place on a beautiful large thick round timber board. I liked the look of this board so much that I decided to buy one the next day. After an extensive search of Melbourne’s finest kitchenware stores I was disappointed that none had anything remotely similar. At this stage I was resigned to the fact that it was not possible to purchase a board like Jamie’s in Australia.
Later that year I went home to have Christmas with my family in Launceston Tasmania. I also took the opportunity to visit The Taste of Tasmania food event in Hobart early in the new year. Just before I left Hobart to drive back to Launceston I was due to meet a friend for coffee in Salamanca Place. Now this is where things get interesting! My friend rang to say he was going to be about half an hour late, so I replied “no problem I will wander around the shops in the area”. Looking in a craft shop I noticed a stunning small timber board made from several iconic Tasmanian hardwood timbers. I went inside asked who made the board and being a friendly Tasmanian girl she answered, “These boards are handmade by Craig in Launceston would you like his phone number”!!
Arriving back in Launceston I rang Craig and made an appointment to meet with him at his workshop which turned out to be his garage under his house. Coincidently I had The Naked Chef cookbook with photos of the board I wanted to buy. I said to Craig” could you make a board like this pointing excitedly at the book”, he replied “yes”, I then said “how about a rectangle one say 50 x 34 x 7cm?” Once again his reply was “yes” but this time he asked “why”? I replied that I want one, and if I want one other people may want one. This of course was 2001 early days of the “Foodie” phenomenon that still shows no sign of slowing down. With a promise of providing me with a couple of samples in a few weeks I returned to my home in Melbourne.
Early February two boards arrived at my place and they looked better than I imagined. I immediately started using the large round and found it fulfilled all my needs. I then thought maybe I should sell a few but had no idea where to start. In the meantime, a girl I had met at a party had moved across the road and being neighbourly she had asked me over to her place for dinner. When I arrived, I said. “What have you been up to today Libby?” and she replied “I have been trying to by a decent size timber chopping board, and you know I can’t find one in Melbourne!” As someone who had been very successful in homeware I thought her opinion on my boards and my plans to sell them was invaluable so I asked her over. When she saw the boards, she was almost as excited as I was and she said over the next month or so she would help me when her time allowed to launch my product. On her visits, we discussed a name, which we decided on The Big Chop, labels, presentation, stores to approach etc. etc.
What happened next was amazing, Jamie Oliver was coming out to be the celebrity chef at the inaugural Good Food Show in June at The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and he chose to use The Big Chop timber boards for his cooking shows, 9 months after he had influenced my decision to search for his large round timber board.
Thankfully quality kitchenware and homeware stores also loved my boards and still stock The Big Chop 16 years later. Oh, and Libby, she got a Big Chop board and the man, and we were married a year later! And as for fate, if my friend had not been late for coffee in Salamanca Place………………
Founder: The Big Chop