Natural or Faux: Which Servingware is Right for Your Restaurant?
When it comes to choosing servingware for your restaurant, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind. Does your selection match your decor? Is it practical for your needs? What impression will it make for your customers? It can be tough to find the perfect solution to all these questions. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of faux versus natural materials, so you can find the option that’s right for your business.
The Difference Between Faux and Natural Servingware
One servingware trend that’s been taking center stage for the past few years is natural surfaces, such as slate, stone, wood, and marble. Many industry experts believe this trend to be a result of the culinary shift towards natural and sustainable cuisine with a farm-to-table focus. But when it comes to choosing which natural materials are right for you, you’ll find that even more questions arise. Durability, maintenance, and authenticity are all things to take into account when selecting natural servingware. While there’s no real substitute for the look and feel of natural wood or stone, you can find imitation materials that offer the attractive, rustic appearance of organic materials, with all the convenience of synthetic surfaces.
Benefits of Faux Material Servingware
Most faux servingware is made of melamine, which is a type of plastic that’s commonly used for foodservice applications because of its heat resistance, durability, and light weight. Melamine is also easily formed into a wide variety of shapes and takes on color well, making it ideal for imitating other materials, such as porcelain or even wood.
Melamine is dishwasher safe and unlikely to chip or crack if dropped. So, if you’re looking for a product that has the rustic appearance of a natural material, but you would like the ability to clean it in the dishwasher, faux servingware is an excellent alternative. The beauty of melamine is that it can imitate pretty much any natural material, while providing all the convenience of plastic.
Benefits of Natural Servingware
From wooden bowls to slate serving boards, the quality of authentic natural materials is unmatched. While a real wood product may not withstand frequent use as well as an imitation wood material, the texture, wood grain pattern, and weight of natural wood does bring a bit of luxury to the table.
Real slate serving platters are a beautiful backdrop for fruits, baked goods, cheese boards, or appetizers because the textured edges add an artistic element to the presentation.
Examples of Faux vs. Natural Servingware
- Cement and Granite – Cement has a modern and industrial look that’s desirable for many applications. But the porous surface and heavy weight of genuine cement prevents it from being a practical choice for most foodservice establishments. Faux cement offers the unique appearance of real cement, without any of the challenges.
- While you may associate granite with countertops, the patterns and colors of granite stone lend themselves well to presentation purposes as well. Similar to cement and cast iron, however, natural granite stone requires special maintenance and is heavy for servers to carry. Melamine faux granite is an excellent alternative option because it has the look of stone but requires minimal maintenance.
- Cast Iron – Cast iron has a rustic appearance that can provide the perfect finishing touch to a variety of table settings. But natural cast iron comes with its drawbacks. It’s very heavy, and most cast iron pieces are not dishwasher safe and need to be re-seasoned routinely. However, natural cast iron is usually oven safe, while a faux alternative would not be.
- Wood - You’ll likely see serving platters made of a few different types of wood. The most common varieties you’ll find include: olive wood, cedar, and acacia. Each wood has its own distinct grain pattern, and you can even find options with a “live edge,” meaning that some of the bark is still attached to enhance the natural appearance of the board.
- Slate - Genuine stone slate serving boards have a distinct texture and weight that can enhance the overall presentation of your gourmet cheeses or appetizers. The dark color of these products makes brighter colors pop with dramatic effect. Slate boards also come in different shapes, so you can create a look that best suits your food.
- Marble and Wood - Combining different natural materials, like marble and wood, together in one serving piece is a popular trend for restaurants and residential kitchens as well. By having one board made of two materials, presentations of charcuterie, cheese platters, and even desserts go from ordinary to exciting. You can use the different sections of the board to define the space between your selection of small bites.
- Bamboo - Bamboo is a popular choice for servingware because it’s a sustainable material that has a similar appearance to wood but with a closer grain, smoother surface, and lighter weight. You can even find disposable bamboo dinnerware that has a high-end look but cuts down on cleanup time.
Next time you need to select new servingware for your restaurant, start by deciding what visual style you want. Then you can consider which functional features are most important to you. There are plenty of products that can provide you with a rustic appearance along with the convenience of easy care and long-lasting durability. So, whether you want to use natural servingware, an imitation of a natural material, or some combination of both, there are many options available for commercial settings.