Why do restaurateurs recruit potters to create custom ceramics? “It changes the whole [dining] experience,” says Bethany Kramer, who launched Melbourne, Kentucky’s Bethany Rose Pottery in 2012. “You’re going to pay more attention to what’s on your plate.” In 2013, chef Jose Salazar tapped Kramer to create pieces for his namesake restaurant, then she went on to collaborate with Nada, Mita’s, Frida 602, and The Baker’s Table, plus a few other eateries across the U.S.
Her restaurant collections, which typically include hundreds of pieces and take months to complete, are fired in her 31-cubic-foot gas kiln, giving each piece a warm undertone, earthy characteristics, and a handmade touch. Besides functionality, Kramer’s biggest design consideration is how each collection will enhance the presentation of food, so she creates custom glazes and dimensions to fulfill each client’s vision. And while she eats off her plates “all the time at home,” she says seeing diners do so in public is “a special feeling.”
Since 2013, Christie Goodfellow has made more than 500 colorful plates, bowls, cups, and ramekins for Please, based on chef-owner Ryan Santos’s vision, adding vibrancy to the restaurant’s minimal interior and creating a focal point on the table.
Bethany Rose Pottery: Salazar
To satisfy chef-owner Jose Salazar’s desire for an earthy “wood-fired look,” Bethany Kramer experimented with layering glazes, which created a crater-like texture for the 135 plates, bowls, mugs, and saucers she made for his first eatery.
Breakfront Pottery: Fausto
Owners Austin and Tony Ferrari enlisted Lauren Thomeczek and James Manning to make 200 pieces featuring custom pink, blue, and neutral matte glazes that match the CAC’s modern aesthetic, including plates that are intentionally chipped on the rims.
Joyful Dirt Creations: Kiki
Collaborating with chef-owners Hideki and Yuko Harada, Amanda Hollinger created 450 plates and bowls with tan-and-black-speckled unglazed bottoms to complement Kiki’s wood tables and white-and-black-speckled glazed tops to showcase the food.