Serving in style

Along with your food and service, your serving ware makes a major statement about your operation. And who knows more about serving ware than the owners and chefs who use it day after day? We recently talked with a few restaurant pros to find out what factors are important to them when choosing their serving pieces.

Going upscale

Sean Brasel, chef/owner of Meat Market, an upscale steakhouse in Miami’s South Beach, looks for “uniqueness in display but at the same time, functionality.” Serving ware, he says, “needs to ‘work’ but at the same time impress aesthetically.” 
There are many choices for operators who want to connote an air of individuality. Porcelain, for example, has long been
a classic favorite. Villeroy & Boch’s Urban Nature collection takes its inspiration from forms found in nature. A unique feature of the line is “traverse” plates, which arch high above the table and give dramatic height to a plate presentation. The Wave line of porcelain serving pieces from Izabel Lam has gently rippled, square interlocking edges and ridged sides to allow for multiple plate design possibilities.

Casually speaking

Chef Salvatore Gisellu of Urban Crust, a wood-fired pizza restaurant and bar in Plano, Texas, echoes architect Louis Sullivan’s pronouncement when he says, “We always look for the balance of ‘form follows function.’” His serving ware must first be functional and practical, he says, and then “it must meet our image of polished casual.” One such combination comes
in American Metalcraft’s new Prestige porcelain serving bowls. Ranging in size from 20 ounces up to a generous 84 ounces, these bowls feature a circular indentation in the side, which not only allows for easy carrying and service but also makes a stylish design point.

If tasting-size portions are on the menu, Fortessa offers the Accentz line of tasting trays. They’re made from reinforced
vitreous china, and feature one to nine mini-compartments on each tray.

Catering to every whim

Obviously, a caterer like Sam Gray, president of Catered by Design in Morton Grove, Illinois, has different needs. He looks for “food safety, uniqueness, durability, shapes, colors and textures, depending on the type of food and style of service” when considering serving ware. With his clients, “serving small portions of comfort foods and mini pastries using a variety of petite plates” is popular. Cardinal provides a unique option for buffet service with its Arcoroc Easy Serve cocktail plate. This stackable porcelain plate has a slotted opening to hold a wine glass, a finger hole for easy balancing and raised ridges to keep food from slipping off.

To fit in the tight spaces often found in catering jobs, Vollrath offers a set of elevation stands that allow you to arrange serving bowls horizontally to maximize minimum space. For an elegant look that’s also durable, there are acrylic products that look like glass yet resist breakage. TableCraft’s acrylic Cristal Collection not only includes regular trays and bowls, but also risers, raised trays and stepped “waterfall” pieces.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Pricing has driven restaurant sales growth for the past 2 years

The Bottom Line: Restaurant sales have grown for most of the past two years. But they haven't kept pace with menu price inflation, suggesting the industry is saturated again.


Restaurants can learn some foodservice tricks from supermarkets

State of the Plate: Nancy Kruse, RB’s menu trends columnist, says grocers are stepping up their game, and restaurants need to keep up.


So you are opening a restaurant in a Walmart? Good luck with that

The Bottom Line: The retail giant is adding regional restaurant chains to its stores, giving them some key exposure. But there are some real drawbacks to pay attention to.


More from our partners