My work island is maple butcher block. It is about the hardest wood surface available without going to something really esoteric (and expensive).
As for finishing, there are two routes... a polyurethane (like Good Stuff brand), or a butcher block conditioner which is made up of mineral oil and wax (like you use on a traditional cutting board).
When I built it I finished using a polyurethane, but a decade later when it was time for refinishing it involved sanding it all out and I decided I only wanted to do that once. After prepping the surface for refinishing, I went with Howard's conditioner
. It gives a more natural look, and it does not require sanding for reapplication. It does require a bit more maintenance as it needs to be reapplied and buffed out regularly, and like a cutting board develops it's own character over time. It really is a great look.
I use the surface for baked goods and pasta, and there are no issues there. Depending on the last time I reapplied conditioner, water and oil can spot/color the surface. It is not a big deal to me as it just adds a patina character, and having a 4 foot by 8 foot butcher block cutting board with a bar sink/garbage disposal in the middle at my beck and call is worth it.
I did my countertops in black dyed concrete, and if I had it to over again I think I would have done those in butcher block as well (I just would have stained them darker).