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In Dining

End-grain cutting boards were Wild's first project. (PHOTO: Lori Fredrich)

In Dining

Business owners Felisha Wild and Janelle Phalen own and operate the shop, Our Daily Salt, in Silver City. (PHOTO: Lori Fredrich)

In Dining

The shop also sells hand carved spoons, bowls and utensils. (PHOTO: Lori Fredrich)

In Dining

Large wooden spoons are displayed in a vase on the floor of the shop. (PHOTO: Lori Fredrich)

In Dining

Wooden rolling pins are another specialty. (PHOTO: Lori Fredrich)

In Dining

Each product is unique and functional. (PHOTO: Lori Fredrich)

Our Daily Salt opens in Silver City

There was once a king who had two daughters. One day he posed the question to each: "How much do you love me?"

After some thought, the first daughter announced: "I love you more than the kingdom, and more than the lands as far as I can ride on horseback." This answer pleased the king greatly.

The second daughter paused before giving her answer. "Father," she replied, "I love you more than salt." The answer displeased the king, and he banished his daughter from the kingdom.

That night, the royal cook made the king's food without any salt in it. He was appalled and wondered why his food tasted so bad. The cook explained that, since he didn't have a fondness for salt, it was removed from his food. Only then did the king understand the value of salt and the greatness of his daughter's love.

"I really loved the message behind the parable," says Chef Felisha Wild, owner of Our Daily Salt, an online shop which recently opened a brick and mortar location in Silver City. "I like the idea of bringing attention to something that's maybe overlooked, but that's such an important part of our daily lives."

Our Daily Salt, 3519 W. National Ave., specializes in handcrafted items for the home and kitchen. Products include end-grain cutting boards, hand-turned wooden bowls, rolling pins, salt cellars, spice mills, bottle stoppers and a variety of utensils including hand-carved tongs, spoons, scoops and rack pullers.

Wild says the products she carries in her shop are meant to be both functional and beautiful, and that she hopes they contribute to the community created by the sharing of good food.

"In other cultures, it's not so much about the food, it's about the social interaction surrounding the food," says Wild "And I think that's what we're getting back to here in the U.S.

"We're not spending hours in the kitchen and then gobbling it down in five minutes. We're lingering at the table."

Wild, who grew up in Wisconsin Rapids, always had a fondness for work in the kitchen.

"My parents were separated since I was really young, so I ended up doing a lot of cooking," she says. "Over the course of my life, I've been a person of many hats. I've worked with computers and many other things. But, what I really loved was food."

And no matter where she went, she seemed to gravitate back to cooking. Even while stationed in Germany during a stint in the service, Wild found herself honing her craft.

"A good friend of mine who was with me in the service had cooked in Chinatown," she recalls. "And he introduced me to Asian cooking – making eggrolls from scratch, among other things."

So, when Wild returned to Wisconsin Rapids, she found work at Shaw Lee, a family owned Chinese restaurant there.

"I started making kimchee for them," Wild says. "And then I spent about 10 years working at the restaurant, essentially working in an apprenticeship."

When Wild moved to Milwaukee, she worked a number of odd jobs to make ends meet. But, it was volunteer work ACAP, an organization dedicated to assisting people with disabilities to acquire skills that enable them to become contributing and valued members of the community, that made her realize that her calling was to work with food.

She taught cooking classes for ACAP, and then subsequently took jobs in the kitchen at Riverwest Coop, the Tarragon Café in the former Future Green in Bay View and at Brown Earth Café in Chicago. She also taught cooking classes for Superior Equipment & Supply.

"At the time, my partner Janelle and I had purchased a house," she tells me. "And we decided to take on the kitchen remodel ourselves. Through that process, I discovered I had skills in woodworking."

Wild says she'd always wanted to make an end-grain cutting board, so she took it on as one of her first projects.

"I made two of them," she says. "One I gave away on the blog, and the other I kept. But, from that point, people started asking about them. I started doing one-off sales."

Soon a friend who sold soap at farmers markets asked if Wild wanted to share her booth. After Wild accepted, she says business took off. And, when all the spaces at home began to fill up with projects and mailing supplies, she realized she needed to search for an external space to do her woodworking.

"Tim Syth from Bucketworks told us about a business plan competition for Silver City," says Wild. "It included a retail space in the area, along with good terms on a lease and a stipend to use for business development."

So, Wild and her partner, Janelle Phalen, turned in their application.

"I don't think they really knew what to make of us," says Wild. "We were such a new business. So, they visited our shop, and we had to give presentations to bankers. There were lots of stages and meetings."

For months, the process continued. And in January of 2014, they received news that they'd won the competition and the space was theirs.

Wild and Phalen used the funds they won in the competition to pay for a build out and renovation to the building, which now includes a small retail space a woodshop, which is showcased through a glass window in the rear of the shop.

"One of our goals was to offer our space to artists who'd like to sell their work," says Wild, who notes that the shop currently showcases textiles, painting, furniture. "We're also working with a silversmith who will be selling some of his work here."

The artists, who pay a small fee to display their work at the shop, also benefit from an online listing at the shop's web site, as well as access to shipping services. All profits from the work sold goes back to the artist.

Wild says she's proud to be part of the Silver City neighborhood and can't wait to be able to get more involved in the community that's developing there.

"Everyone has been so supportive," Wild notes. "WIBIC offered services. And the Layton Boulevard West Neighbors have really been awesome. They've assisted us in getting publicity for area businesses and helped us fill out paperwork for a signage grant from the city. I can't even put a price on that."

Our Daily Salt will host a grand opening celebration on Friday, September 5. A ribbon cutting will take place during the morning, and all day long customers are invited to drop by to check out the space and watch Wild at work.


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