Wooden It Be Nice?

by Neal Kielar, Tastemaker in Residence

Wood serving pieces are great any time of the year. But somehow they seem most at home on a summer table. Maybe because wood feels casual like a lazy summer day. Organic and alive like prime growing season. And sturdy for outdoor play.

What's available: Wood serving pieces come in lots of shapes, sizes and purposes. The big salad bowl comes to mind most often but there also are individual serving bowls. Then there are platters, plate-holders and figural servers (we currently have a turtle, a fish and a variety of leaf shapes in our inventory). And of course there's the multi-purpose tray.

How to choose: Be practical first and pick shapes and sizes that meet the needs of your gathering. Divided serving dishes are great for a selection of fresh fruits or vegetables. But creativity matters, too. The ridges between sections don't just keep things neat, they also give you an opportunity to make a visual statement with colors and shapes. Dinner plate sized chargers look great and can be used as a foundation for paper plates. Tiered servers add height to your display of edibles.

Caring for wood: Let's start with the obvious and remind you that wood and dishwashers are not a good mix. You'll want to hand wash wood pieces with mild dish soap and hot water. Hand drying is a good idea to get the water off the wood quickly. If the patina on the wood starts to wear then break out the olive oil (walnut oil works, too). Dense, edible oils like these are great for conditioning wood and restoring patina while keeping them safe for food. Just apply the oil with a clean cotton rag. Wipe away excess oil with a fresh rag then let the oil absorb before using again.

I'll be back soon with tips on how to restore seriously dry or blotchy wood. Just a few simple household items and some elbow grease will have your wood serving pieces looking vibrant again.