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The Latest Farm-to-Table Trend: Rustic Tableware

Uptwon Clay, Shop Local, Cermics, Shop Local,

Fine dining establishments are increasingly seeking out designer Jono Pandolfi, commissioning him to create stripped-down, rustic tableware for their restaurants.. Jono Pandolfi in his Union City, N.J., studio. BRIAN HARKIN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

As Restaurants Shift to Darker Ceramic Dishes, Diners Seek to Buy

What better way to serve slow food than on slow china?Restaurateurs are updating their tabletops, replacing the clean white porcelain dishes that were once a hallmark of fine dining with a new rustic look.Chefs say farm fare pops when served on handmade glazed ceramic or enameled iron and in stone and earth colors like gray and brown. The designs are updated, too, with shallower bowls and sloped plates,

The darker ceramics, wood accents and handmade aesthetic resonate with diners, restaurateurs say, because many customers are looking for ways to bring a farm-to-table feel to their own dining tables. Many are trying to purchase these dishes directly from the restaurants. In some cases, that means tracking down artisans who cater mainly to restaurants.

Traditionally, fine-dining restaurants have favored porcelains such as bone china, which is lightweight, shiny and valued for its delicate appearance. Rather than using the traditional factory-made dishes, many restaurants now are switching to tableware handmade by ceramists.

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A plate is glazed in Jono Pandolfi’s studio. BRIAN HARKIN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

In the new rustic aesthetic, dishes don’t match perfectly and have slight imperfections, says Jono Pandolfi, a ceramics designer who works with restaurants including the Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York and Tosca Café in San Francisco. Mr. Pandolfi, whose studio is in Union City, N.J., designed bud vases for a restaurant in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and then other restaurants started noticing his work. A place setting with more than a dozen components can cost about $200. A typical restaurant order can consist of 2,500 pieces of all sizes, which cost from $3 for tiny sauce dishes to more than $25 for the biggest plates, he adds.

Handmade tableware “dovetails nicely with the whole farm-to-table movement,” he says. “The beauty of organic carrots is that they are not all perfect.” Read the rest of the article on the Wall Street


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A part time potter, full time marketer, full time puppy father.

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