For millennia man has created vessels from clay that have been used to both cook and serve food. In her article entitled Plate Expectations, Penny Smith explores how modern day chefs are partnering with modern potters and designers to craft unique food experiences where the serving vessel and the food combine to create a unique dining experience.
Many of the ceramic pieces highlighted by Smith are as high tech as the “molecular gastronomy,” or scientifically driven cuisine, food they are meant to contain. My favorite of these sleek, high tech looking vessels is the Forkbowl designed by Martin Kastner for Alinea Restaurant in Chicago. This elegant vessel is designed to hold the tines of a fork on one side, while the handle of the fork rests on the other end, creating a miniature platform for an amuse-bouche bite of some delicacy. The overall effect is graceful and inviting.
On the other end of the spectrum in current dining trends is the “Nature based cuisine” which highlights locally produced foods and natural foraging. This trend for locally produced cuisine is best embodied by the work of Ben Richardson of Ridgeline Pottery in Sandford, southern Tazmania. In keeping with the locally sourced theme, Richardson creates his vessels from locally sourced clay which perfectly highlights the cuisine of Grarngistes Restaurant in Hobart, Tazmania.
One of the big conundrums of being a potter is how to sell handmade pottery to people who are not themselves potters. Perhaps this new trend of using handmade pottery in fine restaurants will help to create a greater demand for well designed and hand crafted serve ware among the general public. For more information on the use of hand-made tableware in American restaurants, check out the recent article in the most recent issue of Bon Appetite Magazine entitled Why Restaurants are Ditching White China for Hand-Made Ceramics by Belle Cushing.