Meet the Self-taught Chef Who Crafted a Better Frozen Meal
You know how everyone seems to have one of those stories with their grandmother, who taught them how to cook with family recipes passed down through multiple generations? The founder of DC Cutting Board, Devin Cummins’ story of learning how to cook, strayed far from that. He describes both his grandmothers as different but similarly terrible chefs. On one side of the family, his grandmother insisted on including peas in every dish she touched, while his other grandmother managed to make warming up a chicken pot pie a disastrous science experiment that lives in infamy to this day!
With his family’s underperforming food skills, it is surprising that Devin would grow up to be a food entrepreneur! But his passion for cooking and clean simple ingredients led him to launch three delicious, easy to prepare side dishes in Union Kitchen stores. The initial product launch includes herb and garlic mash cauliflower, butternut squash with crispy Brussel sprouts, and maple pecan sweet potatoes. And don’t worry, these are not his grandmother’s recipes.
DC Cutting Board's name has dual meaning, representing both the city Devin has called home for almost 15 years and also his initials, Devin Cummins, D.C. Devin centered the mission of his business around delivering healthy, easy, and most importantly, delicious foods. Devin's culinary school was clearly not in his family's kitchen, nor was it a professional institution. Devin is entirely self-taught through what he describes as "Food Network University." He spent (and still spends) his days watching Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Chef Steps, and many more of the greats from the Food Network. This grounded him in the philosophy of simplicity. Everything about the way Devin cooks lends to simplicity. He believes in taking simple ingredients and cooking them the way they were meant to be cooked with no fancy additives or preservatives, just salt, pepper, and natural spices.
DC Cutting Board is the manifestation of Devin's cooking philosophy. It is a way of increasing accessibility to the simple cooking that he loves. It all started when Devin was living off of the H street neighborhood in Washington, D.C. after finishing his undergraduate studies at American University. He would often find himself wandering through his local corner store looking for a full, tasty meal on a budget. Typically, this would result in him whipping up his famous Carbonara. But what he was really always searching for was a healthier and easier meal option that wouldn't break the bank, take him hours to cook, and something that tastes great.
Fast forward a few years, which was filled with lots of self-education on cooking and healthy, simple ingredients. Devin was becoming a top-notch cook in his own right. His favorite dishes to make were pork chops, butternut squash puree, crispy brussel sprouts, and apple chutney. Not only was Devin cooking these meals for himself, but he was also whipping them up for his friends and family. He began to be so impressive in the kitchen that his taste testers response would often be, "this is so good you could sell it." After hearing that one too many times, Devin decided to go for it, and DC Cutting Board was born. While Devin describes starting his own business as a risky venture, he certainly doesn't regret it. "I am so grateful I get to live my dream and passion every day,” Devin describes. To this day, his friends and family (and dog) whom he considers to be like family are the first taste testers. "My dog, Hodor, is my number one food critic; he gets first dibs on every new creation I make. Yes, he is the most spoiled dog ever," Devin shared with us.
After years of perfecting his recipes in the kitchen before launching DC Cutting Board, Devin had a relatively smooth transition through the research and development process. He had unknowingly been conducting R&D long before he even conceptualized DC Cutting Board. What Devin was unprepared for how much extra food he would have leftover while tweaking and testing his recipes to prepare for launch. Rather than letting that food go to waste, Devin got creative. He describes one particular evening after a long day of R&D when he drove by the Capital Food Bank and saw they were collecting food. Devin, fresh off a test run, had tons of product with him and was able to donate it all. In the wake of COVID-19, Devin feels strongly about using his platform and his business to give back to the community. While DC Cutting Board is an early startup, it is not lost on Devin that this year has been especially challenging for community members who are food insecure. It is Devin's goal to continue to highlight and create an impact in the local DC community.
DC Cutting Board is available in the frozen section in all five Union Kitchen Stores and online as a meal delivery service.