Plated Beauty

The work of local ceramicists becomes front and center in the DC restaurant scene 

By Ally Kirkpatrick, Photography by Hannah Hudson 

Visit a DC-area restaurant this season and you’re likely to notice innovative artistry happening not only on the menus, but on and with the plates. 

Chefs are partnering with potters, seeking out handmade ceramics in place of anonymous commercial restaurant ware, adding a rustic elegance and function to each plate setting.  

Choosing Centrolina’s ceramic plates came well in advance of opening the restaurant for Chef Amy Brandwein, who visited the studio of potter Jane Herold.( Herold has been creating pottery for restaurants in New York and DC for a few years now, mixing her own glazes and using a wood-fired kiln. Herold worked through samples, varying shape, size and texture for Centrolina, from mini sauce dishes to olive oil cruets.  

The results, which Brandwein calls “works of art in their own right,” are also high-functioning restaurant ware, able to hold up under the heat lamp and then be thrown into the dishwasher. Most handmade pottery performs well in a busy restaurant. Its endurance is matched by its beauty. To Brandwein and her dinners, it makes a difference. “It would be impossible to go back to basic service ware,” she says.  

At The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, Chef Tarver King commissions service ware to parallel his evolving seasonal menu. The colors and shape of a bowl mirror the main ingredient: A mushroom-centered dish gets an earth-toned, flat-bottomed bowl to evoke the forest floor; an oyster dish is plated against a shell-like iridescent glaze. Designer and self-taught potter Amber Kendrick, the founder of CloudTerre (, has provided pottery to Patowmack Farm since their early collaborations in 2009. Kendrick’s work can now be found at Chef Rob Rubba’s Hazel and at Chef Eric Ziebold’s Kinship. 

Emerging artists Katie Aldworth ( and Camille Morin (, both Community Artists at DC ceramics studio District Clay, are forging partnerships with cafés and restaurants. Aldworth started producing custom cappuccino and espresso cups for US Barista Champion Lem Butler. Morin’s work can be found at The Whole Ox, Marshall, VA, and for sale at East City Book Shop, Capitol Hill.  

See these potters and others at the holiday sale at District Clay’s pop up event December 3–4, 11am–7pm, at West Elm (1728 14th St. NW, WDC) or the studio sale December 10, 11am–5pm. (2414 Douglas St. NE, WDC) (