DALLAS – The secret to successful hosting is something other than the special ingredient in your grandmother’s marinara sauce: It’s the white plate.
Classic, clean and simple, “white dinnerware offers a blank canvas for the artistry of food presentation,” says Turtle Creek, Texas-based events planner Joanne M. Kersten, of Le Glace Events. Furthermore, white is versatile; it dresses up or down to suit the occasion.
Kersten says a white palette creates a nostalgic atmosphere, explaining that the mood “harks back to the age of English gentility.”
Dean Driver, a Dallas designer and events planner who has worked for tabletop companies such as Rosenthal, Lalique and Haviland & Parlon, delves even deeper into the history of white plates and platters.
Driver says the clay mineral kaolin is the secret to porcelain’s pure-white color and durability. Until the 17th century, when kaolin deposits were discovered in France and Germany, Europeans imported white porcelain, a pricey and desired commodity, from China. (Porcelain was introduced to the continent by Marco Polo, Driver reminds us.)
For those of us living in the 21st century, white dishes, from porcelain to pottery, continue to inspire.
“White allows you to see the forms and shapes of the dinnerware. Sometimes, with color and pattern, you overlook how beautiful and creative they’ve been in creating shapes,” Driver says, referring to tabletop designers.
“White is always a classic choice and can last for generations,” says Claudia Saber, a buyer for retailer Sur la Table. With white, Saber says, your tabletop is assured to never go out of style.
“The traditionalist, the modernist and everyone in between buys white ware,” she says.
Saber suggests setting the table with a monochromatic look, such as white linens accented with polished metals. Kersten, on the other hand, prefers the bare, polished wood of the dining table decorated with “a plethora of candlelight.”
Any way you use it, white is versatile, says Driver. “I think, sometimes, people think all-white means casual, but it doesn’t necessarily. It can be very special to have all-white.”
Saber sums it up: “White goes with everything, and no kitchen should be without.”

Tips for using white tableware
• Recruit accessory pieces for novel uses. Arrange votives in decorative holders on a platter. Put short-stem flowers in serving bowls for a centerpiece.
• Nontraditional shapes help make a presentation more memorable.
• Hotel-style white dishes with wide rims are a timeless choice.
• Stark white – not oatmeal, not ivory – is the best seller in both formal and casual settings.
• A set of wide, low bowls belongs in every cook’s cupboard. Use them to serve fusion, Asian, Italian, Indian and Thai dishes.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.