Opening a restaurant begins a long process of decision making. What kind of tables and chairs shall we have, what kind of oven and refrigeration shall we buy, which computer systems will we use? And of course, what kind of food and service will the restaurant be known for. Raven & Rose intended to draw inspiration from the British Isles, serving rustic yet refined fare that harkens us back to our culinary and colonial ancestry. As a chef, I needed to understand not only what kind of food to serve, but what it would be served on.
At home, I have a large collection of plates and glasses, especially Japanese plateware. Japanese utsuwa, meaning pottery or vessel, have always been my favorite kind of service ware. There is such a rich and diverse variety of shapes, colors and textures which enhance the pleasure of eating and drinking from them. For many years at Park Kitchen, I enjoyed using them to present all sorts of preparations. For the Raven & Rose project, I definitely needed something with more Anglo-Saxon connotations.
I have always been a big fan of Heath Ceramics, in Sausalito, California. Their plates were always a leading candidate. The speckled ceramics popularized by Noma in the Scandinavian countries seems to have sparked a great deal of interest in textured glazes and new shapes. Perhaps that was part of the inspiration for the new Craft Series launched by Steelite, the English plateware company. The moment I saw the catalog for these new plates, I knew this would be the perfect plate for an upscale English farmhouse restaurant. Strangely enough, I have used the Steelite plates alongside many of my Japanese pieces, and there has been a pleasant continuity between them.