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October 2003

By Janice Cha with Jennifer Hicks
SPECIAL REPORT: Tabletop Steals The Show

Twenty-four tabletop and servingware products—count ’em, 24—commanded attention for looks, durability and practicality.

Looks, durability, functionality. Those were the qualities that caught the judges’ eyes during the Foodservice Equipment Reports Tabletop and Servingware Competition, held on a warm July morning at our headquarters in Skokie, Ill.

Of some 65 finalists, judges identified 24 winning products. Plates and dishes garnered the most wins with 11, followed by silverware, stemware, beverage dispensers, a trio of chafing dishes from one manufacturer, and several individual items. That’s more tabletop winners than we’ve ever had in six years of sponsoring this competition.

Our judging pros examined serving pieces of almost every shape, size and material you could imagine. Geometrics— rounded or hard-cornered squares, triangles, rectangles and eye-shapes—made a particularly strong showing compared to years past. (And let’s not forget one whimsical fish-shaped platter.) White dishes with patterned rims were popular, too.

Our experienced panel of judges consisted of three operators—Chef Hans Aeschbacher, Tony Diar-Bakerli and Ray Rees—and three dealer/distributors—Doug Mitchell, Pam Sisler and Susan Steinway. (All are profiled on page 34.) They were given free reign and no limitation on the number of winners declared, and so you see before you the two dozen items they considered winning-worthy.
As with many things, the tabletop story’s in the details. So read on to see what each of the 24 winners was lauded for, and then peruse the writeups of the many finalists.

It All Begins With Vision
Sharp design, ideal for multiple uses. Those were the conclusions of judges who gave high marks to the Ergo set—a matching salad bowl, bread plate and pinstripe square plate. Part of the Cyclamen Collection, the light green and yellow Ergo pieces offer a neat and colorful appearance. “I could see them in a French restaurant,” said one judge.

“Nice alternative to an airpot,” said one pro looking over the L3D-10 Luxus Dispenser from Fetco Corp. The dispenser impressed with its volume indicator, vacuum-insulated liner and built-in drip tray. Plus, a built-in freshness timer automatically begins timing as soon as coffee enters the dispenser.

Lean into the pour, says Fortessa, with its Brezza Collection of coffee and water pitchers. You get a sleek slanted design in the 9” water pitcher and the 7” coffee pot. Matching creamer and sugar set, also with the angled look, complete the coffee set. Meanwhile, Fortessa’s Forge silverware also took home an award. Designed with elongated lines that can adapt to many dining experiences, Forge comes in 18/10 stainless and silverplate. Judges called the pieces well sized, with good proportions.

Homer Laughlin China walked away a winner with its Asian Willow Collection. Its soft willow motif and warm design caught the eye of the judging pros. Judges used phrases like “nice pattern” and “nice color combinations” to describe their appreciation for Asian Willow.

Meanwhile, judges gave high marks to the Silverado Jumbo Steak Knife from Oneida Foodservice. Part of the Delco Steak Knife Collection, the Silverado features an oversized ergonomic handle with a comfortable indentation for easy handling. It offers a brushed satin finish and 18/8 stainless construction, making it easy to mix and match.

Pickard China won favor with three patterns in its New Traditions collection of fine white china. Cypress offers a dusky green-blue background overlaid with gold accent lines; Luxor shows off a mix of precious metals enhanced by 24K gold and platinum; and Palladium features a white frost mica rim with thin gray lines, gold drops and platinum bands. Judges praised all three designs.

Riverside Design Group brought a unique look to the competition with its Tropical Palm Plates and The Form Series. Made of post-industrial/pre-consumer recycled glass, the textured Tropical plates come hand-colored with palms of white, green and gold. Plates are available in 6”-, 9”- and 12”-square sizes. The Form Series plate, which offers a freeform sandblasted edge with a pearlized center, comes in 7”, 9”, 11” and 13” sizes.

Libbey’s Royal Leerdam subsidiary provided Carre stemware for the competition, and it came away a winner. The contemporary look of Carre features a chiseled profile, a diamond-shaped bowl, and a narrow top. With its European styling and elegant shape, Carre is perfect for wine service, and comes in five sizes for wine, champagne and burgandy.

The Schonwald Collection from Oneida Foodservice gets a boost with Generation dinnerware. Oneida uses what it calls Duracream porcelain to fashion dinnerware that’s attractive as well as chip and scratch resistant. Clear soft lines give Generation a modern style, and large surfaces on plates and platters allow generous space for food presentations. Rims curve gently. “A great all-purpose plate,” said one judge.

“Neat Italian glass” sums up the response to the Tuscany Glass Collection from Service Ideas. Pleasant swirls of color in blue, white, green, lavender or grey highlight these translucent plates, which come with standard or wavy rims. You can also choose from shiny or satin finishes.

A Fancy Cup Lid, And Breakfast Goes Upscale
Fancy a new design for your hot cup lids? Solo Cup Co. brings on a revolution in take-away coffee with a nifty open-and-close feature on its new disposable Hot Cup Lids. The judges loved the concept, calling it an effective way to do away with the drips and spills that come from the always-open sip-hole on regular cup lids.

Spring USA came away a big winner when all of its entries drew high praise from judges. “Absolutely beautiful,” exclaimed judges looking over the Breakfast Collection, which provides a unique, portioning cereal dispenser plus several beverage dispensers with stainless steel ice tubes to keep beverages cold. Clear acrylic and mirror-polished stainless construction gives everything an upscale look.

Judges liked Spring’s Rectangular Buffet Server because it can be used with an induction cooktop, and for its unique and effective hinge mechanism. “It’s pretty slick,” said one pro. And the Rondo Chafing Dishes from Spring drew praise for their newly designed rounded frames and well-balanced lids. “The handle clears the edge of the rim, so there’s no danger of pinched fingers here,” said one judge.

Libbey’s Syracuse China unit won for Repetition chinaware, designed with a carved-edge pattern. The “generously sized edge gives the look of plenty,” offered one judge. “Great utility plate, and sturdy,” said another.

Two products from Walco Stainless received winning nods. The Royal Danish II Coffee Urn turned heads with its sleek design and reflective good looks. The judges’ conclusion: A “very unique coffee urn” that “would have a place at a nice buffet.” And the Ultimate Steak Knife drew high scores because “big steak knives are the new in-thing.” The knife’s full mirror finish is dishwasher safe.

Meanwhile, the Kult wine decanter and Hutschenreuther Hotel China Supreme from WMF USA won tabletop awards. The decanter comes with a spiffy 18/10 stainless steel rack, while the cream-colored china offers the properties of durable, hard porcelain along with a chip-resistant glaze.

And finally, the Fish Platters from Libbey’s World Tableware division offer a clean white appearance to show off seafood appetizers or entrées. Platters come in three sizes.

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