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Bye bye, Boardy: how tableware is leaving those dreaded wooden boards behind

By Daniel Woolfson , 15-Mar-2017
Last updated on 15-Mar-2017 at 17:43 GMT2017-03-15T17:43:42Z

Bored of boards: tableware products are more diverse than ever
Bored of boards: tableware products are more diverse than ever

You’ve all seen the pictures – a flaccid steak sits on a stained wooden board, drenched in greyish peppercorn sauce slowly seeping to the edge. It's futility incarnate.

The pub trade has been lambasted for its overuse of serving boards – perhaps rightly so.

It wasn’t long ago that sardonic Twitter account @WeWantPlates made national news headlines with its seething takedowns of operators who, for reasons unknown, thought they could get away with serving bacon hung from a miniature washing line.

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser (MA) in peak board-bashing mode two years ago, Ross McGinnes, the man behind the account, had no mercy for the trend, which he saw as an “epidemic” particularly in the pub sector.

He’s since quietened down, which is understandable because, let’s be honest, spending more than 15 minutes a week sifting through pictures of disfigured dinners surely takes its emotional toll on a human being.

Nevertheless, his words must have had some effect, because wooden boards and their ilk are yesterday’s news. 

So, bidding goodbye to the age of artisanal pastiche, what options are out there for operators that want to give their food offer a distinctive touch?

Steelite

Back to the future? Steelite’s space-age collection taps into the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ – bringing the outside inside.

Steelite International’s new collection, Scape, consists of 20 ceramic, 16 glass and 27 melamine items the company claims were inspired by ‘the natural world’ and designed to play into consumer trends for cosy, minimal, Scandinavian–inspired design. 

Earthenware

Many pubs and restaurants are turning towards independent producers to create their own, unique earthenware collections.

It’s difficult to go a week without some industry think-tank impressing on you quite how much customers are seeking ‘authenticity’ these days. What ‘authenticity’ actually means in the context of the hospitality industry is debatable, but commissioning your own bespoke tableware is a simple way – if generally more expensive – of setting yourself apart from the competition.

Artis

Supplier Artis offers a range of personalisation options, such as this bespoke set it developed with Hampshire eatery Woosters.

For operators who want to put a personal stamp on their tableware, but avoid the fuss of starting from scratch, some manufacturers offer to personalise plates and other crockery with designs, text and logos. 

Utopia 

Whatever you may think of the Hemsley sisters, the equally loved and loathed ‘clean eating’ movement has captured the attention of innumerable customers. Utopia’s Isumi collection was designed to complement the healthier side of eating out while tapping into trends for sharing.

Each plate or bowl is uniquely finished with colourways and textures, while its Olive Wood bowls vary in size and shape.

Vegware

Indian street food and craft beer operator Bundobust uses solely disposable and biodegradable tableware made from plants and recycled board, which it buys from supplier Vegware.

Bundobust’s founder Marko Husak says: “Plastic cutlery and polystyrene should be banned in the UK like they are in some countries and cities in the world.

“[Using solely disposables] costs us a lot of money. We go through about 10,000 pots and plates a week across two sites serving around 4,000 customers between them but it saves us money on labour and it saves on energy because we don’t need as many industrial dishwashers.

“We save a hell of a lot of water, which is great for the environment.”

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