Judging of FER’s 2016 Tabletop/Servingware portion of the competition was as lively as it was hands-on.“Put a sandwich on that deep blue plate, see how it looks,” clamored judges, while discussing the merits of a glaze color of a new dinnerware collection from Oneida. (Spoiler: “sensational” was the answer.)
High-“spirited” discussion swirled around various bar entries. “I would gladly pay $30 for a high-end whiskey if it came in a cool glass like that one,” said one of our malt-beverage connoisseurs about Peugeot’s uniquely shaped glass with a matching cooling base.
Operator judges drew on their experience with serving pieces that might be a little too popular, as with an entry made of copper submitted by American Metalcraft. “Copper barware has become so popular with guests that a lot of bars require a driver’s license before they’ll serve you your Moscow Mule, otherwise customers take off with the cup,” noted one judge.
The annual Tabletop Competition took place in August in the newly opened Event Center at The Boelter Cos. SuperStore in Milwaukee. The competition’s product array featured 31 finalists, pared down from 45 initial entries by FER editors. Our judges included three chef/operators and three dealers.
As with previous years, the Tabletop Competition fielded a delicious variety of entries. Most prevalent were plates (bone china, melamine, ceramic) by Frieling, Libbey, Oneida and the many brands of Steelite. We saw wine glasses of the angular persuasion as well as conventionally curved. The competition also included a triangular hammered Holloware platter by Walco, a line of marble-looking disposable catering plates from WNA, new ramekin designs by Emile Henry, two-toned display platters by American Metalcraft and Elite Global Solutions, baskets made of metal weave from Delfin and silverware with attitude by La Tavola. The largest entry was a tabletop stand by Eastern Tabletop, while the smallest was the single taco holder by Linden Sweden. Carlisle submitted a serving tray that that can be easily wrapped top and bottom with a client’s marketing message.
In the end, judges selected seven tabletop winners, whose detailed write-ups follow.
Tabletop/Servingware candidates include anything, including disposables, that could be used on a well-dressed table or buffet. To be eligible, products had to be new to market since the May 2015 National Restaurant Association Show. Manufacturers were asked to send product samples for the judging process.
Read on for full details about the Tabletop winners in FER’s 2016 Smallwares & Tabletop Competition, presented in alpha order by manufacturer. Write-ups about all our Tabletop finalists follow.
Meet The 2016 Tabletop Winners:
American Metalcraft’s Antique Copper Barware boasts a full line of trendy drinkware. Made from copper, the drinkware serves as an eye-catching alternative to traditional glassware and comes in smooth, hammered and muddled finishes. A line of copper cocktail shakers and copper jiggers rounds out the mixology line-up. During 2016, the company debuted 15 copper mugs, tumblers, mini tumblers, cups and mini cups for use at bars.
Antique Copper Barware—American Metalcraft
Carlisle FoodService Products Decorated Tray Wraps helps build brands and turn heads. The entry impressed judges with the edge-to-edge printing and vibrant colors. Images can be sent to Carlisle digitally in high-resolution format so they can be printed to the tray surface. “I sell a lot of trays, and have never seen one like this—the whole tray is wrapped, and you can add your logo and decent graphics,” said one dealer judge. “It’s a game changer,” added another. “A school could charge advertisers to place messages there and recoup some of the costs.”
Decorated Tray Wraps—Carlisle FoodService Products
Creations’ Craft Melamine Platters might trick even the most educated observers—including a few of our judges—into thinking they’re china. The platters, with their texture and coloring, offer a farm-to-table aesthetic that earned top scores from the judging panel. “I really liked the non-slip bases on these items, since melamine tends to be so slick,” said one operator judge.
Craft Melamine Platters—Creations/Steelite
Oneida’s Studio Pottery-Blue Moss combines rich azure hues, more than 20 shapes and sizes, and a limited 3-yr. no-chip warranty. One of the coolest things about this set is what it won’t do—mark up other plates or tabletops, thanks to a scratch- and mark-resistant foot that not only reduces glaze abrasion and metal marking, but is gentle on delicate tabletop surfaces. Our judges discussed the unusual blue color at length—and in the end, one chef judge proved its merits by arranging a salad and placing a sandwich atop one of the pieces.
Studio Pottery-Blue Moss—Oneida/Anchor Hocking Co.
Pedestal Designs’ Pedestal Design Pro makes show-stopping catering displays by combining 3 matte-black oval platforms and corresponding columnar supports in nearly infinite formations. The unit’s 360° rotation lets you place it anywhere: tight corners, banquet tables, counters, food stations and more. Parts assemble easily and are interchangeable. “I like how it’s collapsible and lightweight,” said one operator judge. “It’s especially ideal for a caterer.”
Pedestal Design Pro—Pedestal Designs
Peugeot’s Whiskey Tasting Set combines a uniquely shaped glass with a metal chilling base and leatherette coaster to bring out the best in whiskeys, cognac and other fine spirits with no dilution from melting ice. The glass’ narrow top enhances aromas before tasting, while its wide glass bowl helps retain alcohol vapors. The metal chilling base cools spirits for at least 30 min. without any temperature shock. “Love the look!” said one dealer judge. “High design, on-trend and fits the growing market of people who don’t want ice in their fine spirits,” another judge added.
Whiskey Tasting Set—Peugeot
The Vollrath Co.’s Cubic Display System combines modern elegance with absolute flexibility. The portable system includes cubic pedestals, bowls, beverage dispenser, cutting boards, platters and more. All parts can be assembled in an unlimited number of configurations, heights and widths. For breakdown, everything nests together. “Lightweight, customizable, interchangeable and a space-saver,” said one judge.
Cubic Display System—The Vollrath Co.
The 2016 Tabletop Finalists:
FLIP ME OVER
Carbonized Bamboo Serving Boards by American Metalcraft feature 2 looks in 1. On 1 side, light-colored bamboo; on the flip side, a darker, carbonized look. Both the light and dark sides feature a rich, natural wood patina. The boards are at home with farm-to-table presentations as well as high-end buffets. The boards are ¾-in. thick, and come in 4 sizes.
SHAPELY WINE GLASSES
“Great look” and “nice curves” wrote our judges about Bormioli Rocco’s inAlto Collection. The wine glasses’ distinctive angles and tall, thin stems enhance any table setting. The brilliancy of the glass provides guests with an exceptional wine tasting experience, while the durability of the strengthened stem maximizes operator value. The collection includes 10 shapes and styles of drinkware.
The Delfin Weave Basket Collection brings quiet modernity to any restaurant. The metal baskets’ copper rivets accent the pieces’ thin, flat weave, while durability comes from a steel build, which has a powder-coated finish. The baskets come in 6 sizes and 2 matte finishes. A fitted sturdy plastic liner allows baskets to be used for breads or small items.
DROP WITHOUT BREAKING
Drinique’s Elite Stemless Blu Tumbler Collection adds a splash of color to the tabletop. The drinkware is made from Tritan Copolyester, which stays clear even after many trips through the dishmachine. The drinkware stacks without sticking, washes without cracking and doesn’t break when dropped.
Eastern Tabletop’s Square Tabletop Stand brings multi-level pizzazz to the party. The stand, accessible from either side, features 8 shelves (choose from tempered glass or high-quality acrylic). Brushed stainless serves as the standard finish but the company can make the stand in nearly any color of the rainbow. At only 25 lb., the Square Tabletop Stand is portable and requires no assembly. Dimensions measure 383/8-in.W x 97/8-in.D x 311/2-in.H.
MARBLE + SLATE
Elite Global Solutions’ Horizon Slate Serving Board combines marble and slate textures into a single piece. The dark Fo Slate area has an uneven edge simulating the look of cut rock, offsetting the smooth light-gray marble main area. The 2-toned boards are ideal for elegant displays of cheeses, desserts, charcuterie and more. Choose from rectangular, square and round shapes.
Elite Global Solutions
No matter what your menu requires, Emile Henry has the right Ramekin. Their Burgundian clay construction absorbs, distributes and retains heat evenly, so that custards, cakes and other desserts bake and brown to perfection. The durable, hand-applied glaze will not chip or crack over time, nor will it absorb odors or flavors. The new ramekins are available in 5 colors, in diameters ranging from 3¼ in. to 5 in.
Ruche Bone China Plates, created by Folio, offer a full-rim embossment that has the look of flowing layers of satin. The luminosity of the simple white bone china combined with the functionality of the coupe rims produces a striking, well-designed—even romantic—backdrop for food presentation.
THAT COUNTRY “FRIELING”
The Seltmann Country Life Stoneware 28-Piece Collection by Frieling features speckled interiors and an elegant pattern that ties into natural design motifs. Seltmann comes in 4 colors—champagne, jade, olive and terra cotta—with contrasting white bottoms and sides. This porcelain dinnerware is dishwasher safe, oven safe and microwave safe. Unglazed feet are diamond polished to prevent scratching surfaces.
Hall China’s Pangea Collection combines curvy functionality in attention-getting shapes. The deep, stackable dishes with their swoopy shapes draw the eye and impart an organic accent to the tabletop. Pangea includes 8 shapes in 5 colors—mushroom, paprika, sage, white and bright white.
Hall China/Homer Laughlin China Co.
A specialist team, overseen by Founders Giulio and Sergio Sambonet, designed Ginza Flatware, debuted by La Tavola. The collection features squared-off ends and an unusual concave bend to the handles of forks and spoons.
The Master’s Reserve Renaissance line from Libbey features coordinated stemware and cocktail glassware. The ClearFire glass construction offers maximum clarity and brilliance. Seam-free glassware speaks to quality, while the High Definition rims mean longtime durability.
Prism serves as one of the latest patterns of premium glassware added to Libbey’s Master’s Reserve Collection. Showing off an angular design, the glassware lends itself to creative wine and cocktail presentations. The modern, curved design also provides a visual cue to control pour volume.
The Master’s Reserve Rivere collection from Libbey is “statuesque” and dramatic. All pieces have bead-less edges, strong, slender walls and “optical purity.”
TACO & WRAP HOLDING MADE EASY
This just in from Linden Sweden: A Wrap Holder that makes eating wraps, tacos, burritos, gyros and pitas a little less messy. The handheld, flexible container has an open bottom, holds a variety of sizes and lets you push your food up as you eat. The Linden Taco Holder adds height and pizzazz. Holders are made of BPA-free plastics, and are dishwasher safe and microwave safe.
HERE’S LOOKIN’ AT YOU
The Minners Classic Cocktail range of glassware from MCC reflects the original glass molds used to make glasses for New York’s 1930s Manhattan cocktail scene. This collection will help you recapture classic cocktail service from a bygone era.
3 PLATES, 1 COVER
Rene Ozorio Aura Banquet plates feature 3 gorgeous designs and 1 banquet cover. Choose from 3 shapes: Aura Modern, with wide, angled rims and small wells, focusing on smaller portions; Aura Flat Rim, an elegant shape combining a shallow bowl with a flat rim to create a contemporary feel; and Aura Medium Rim, ideal for most banqueting needs. The one cover fits them all.
TABLESIDE POETRY & REFINEMENT
Revol’s Equinoxe Porcelain Plate Collection captures the spirit of the times through colors of incredible delicacy. Made in France, pieces combine peppery white or pale blue cirrus glazing set off by cast-iron style accents. Choose from round, deep, oval, rectangular, bowls, baskets and dim sum creations. This “constellation” comes in 15 shapes.
SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST
Responding to a revival in authentic cuisine and traditional menus, Steelite presents the Terramesa Collection. Combining warm, rustic style with practicality, pieces are finished with craft-inspired glazes, done in mocha, mustard, wheat or olive. All edges are hand-finished and carry a textured reactive glaze.
LIKE A TRAY STAND BUT SMALLER
Modeled after TableCraft’s full-size tray stands, these Mini Table Trays elevate entrees, appetizer plates or pizzas, freeing up valuable table space. Heat-safe, non-slip grips keep your hot and cold offerings raised off of the table. The foldable stands hold up to 30 lb., have a wide base for better stability, and measure 9¼-in.H.
UPSCALE YOUR FRIES
TableCraft offers an array of side serving baskets and serving options that allow you to elevate your table setting. Stainless Steel Side Baskets dress up plate presentation while providing a high-volume serving solution. The pieces are made of durable 18/8 stainless, and are easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
The name says it all. Taco Taxis by TableCraft add some stainless style to your taco service. The zigzag caddies keep tacos upright, fillings intact. They work equally well for standard and mini-sized tacos, soft or hard shell. The pieces are easy to clean, and come in wire, solid or patterned designs. Choose from 3 capacities.
The Ironstone Triangle Platter marks Walco’s latest addition to its upscale hammered-finish Holloware Collection. The dimpling creates a sparkling appearance and hides fingerprints. The Ironstone Triangle Platter’s double wall stainless design means buffet products will stay cold longer, with less condensation.
WNA’s Textures Quarry Collection of premium disposable dinnerware features a new marble motif. The elegant, neutral design complements food presentations of all kinds. The collection includes 2 sizes of round and square plates, in both white marble and black marble designs.