Behind the Design: Chef’s Mandoline 2.0
Words Lindsay Mecca
At OXO, it’s in our DNA to listen and learn — we learn from consumer feedback, retailer feedback, what’s happening in the marketplace, and so on. Then, we take what we learn and create solutions that improve everyday life.
Often, this means creating new products. Sometimes, it means making our existing products easier to use, more streamlined, more precise — in a word, better. Our Chef’s Mandoline 2.0 is a prime example of this.
We launched our original Chef’s Mandoline in 2004, and it made quite a splash; at the time there weren’t many mandolines on the market that offered a high degree of precision, versatility, and affordability. Thirteen years later, the market has grown, and we’ve launched eight mandolines ranging from handheld versions for garlic and other small vegetables to standing ones that can handle larger fruits and veggies. We’ve learned a lot – and we’ve sliced seemingly endless amounts of zucchini, potatoes, beets, radishes, carrots and more – over the years. We’re always searching for better, and, as such, we wondered if we could improve on our Chef’s Mandoline.
With a lot of research and hard work, turns out, we could. And so we did. The Chef’s Mandoline 2.0 features a number of design updates based on lessons from the last thirteen years.
Here is a bit of what we learned along the way:
Lesson 1: Mandolines Make People Nervous
At OXO, we’re slicing pros, but not everyone is as confident. When it comes to mandolines, newbies are hesitant about sliding food across a blade and aren’t sure how much pressure to use when slicing.The straight blade on our original Chef’s Mandoline required a steady force on the food as it moved across the blade. If the right amount of force wasn’t applied, the cut didn’t feel smooth.
We took this feedback to heart as we developed new mandolines including the 2.0 version of the Chef’s Mandoline and incorporated a more forgiving angled blade instead of a straight blade into new designs. When food hits the blade at an angle, there is more flexibility in the force being applied as you slice; this, in turn, makes slicing easier – and the result better – for experts and newcomers alike.
We also took a few design cues from what people love about our Simple Mandoline Slicer. First, we updated our food holder by making it spring-loaded. Rather than pushing down into the food and then forward over the blade, the springs handle the downward force for you; this means you only need to think about pushing forward, which makes the whole process easier. We also tweaked the back legs to be thinner, like those on our Simple Mandoline, and added a non-slip base. It looks more modern and makes the 2.0 version sturdier, providing more confidence as people slice.
Lesson 2: Parallel = Precise
The biggest benefit of using a mandoline slicer versus a knife – aside from not spending hours over a cutting board – is the ability to get precise, uniform slices consistently; this is the difference between an evenly cooked gratin or apple tart and one with lumpy slices that oscillates between underdone and overdone with each bite.
The back platform on our original Chef’s Mandoline moved at an angle as you changed thickness settings, which, at the thicker settings, could result in a slight wedge shape. In contrast, the 2.0 version has a patent-pending back platform that moves in parallel with the front, ensuring slices come out even every time.
Lesson 3: Simpler Settings Are Better
Selecting the right cut for your recipe is critical, and 21 different slice settings can be overwhelming. Rather than squeezing all the settings onto one dial, the 2.0 version features an easy-to-read indicator alongside the dial on the body. The dial also has a detent, which means you can feel it click into each setting clearly.
Each setting is precisely calibrated to ensure that your results are exactly what they are supposed to be, every time you slice. In fact – at the risk of starting a debate on who makes the best French fries – the French Fry setting is calibrated specifically for McDonald’s-style fries. (We actually measured the parameters of McDonald’s fries to make our slice perfect).
So, how do we know we’ve made a better Chef’s Mandoline? In short, lots and lots of testing. Mack, an OXO Engineer, and Shannon, an OXO Product Manager, personally sliced 100 pounds of potatoes in a single sitting (and many, many more over the course of several months) across all the different thickness settings to test for stability, ease-of-use and, most importantly, precision. For months, they French fried, julienned, crinkle cut and waffled…and let’s just say there were a lot of potato dishes in the OXO kitchen.
The result? A better, high-end mandoline that is sure to enhance your culinary adventures.
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