Top tips for choosing tableware

It’s a tough life for tableware, so how do you know that you’ve picked the right plates?

Having spent his whole career immersed in the world of ceramic design for commercial tableware, Design Director, Danny Goodall wanted to share some thoughts about how to go about selecting the correct tableware depending on the venue.

Choosing crockery or tableware (call it what you want: Plates, dishes, mugs, saucers, bowls, etc.) is a really involved, and potentially costly decision for any establishment. There are a multitude of different manufacturers and suppliers in the marketplace, so how do you know what is right for you? Here’s our take on what you need to consider.

Does the tableware I love have the right look and feel?

Every location has an ambience; a feel; a style of dining. It might be obvious but the choice of tableware, be it plates, cutlery or glass, need to reflect what you want to be seen as in your guests’ eyes. Clichéd, but ‘put yourself in their shoes’. The marketplace is full of different materials, styles, shapes, colours, textures and that’s just the plates! Instagram and Pinterest are great places to get inspired, find what you like and the majority of suppliers will be more than happy to supply free of charge samples. Get searching!

Wow, it looks a million dollars! But it’s beginning to cost a million dollars too!

As with many things in life, there needs to be a level of realism in your decision. Yes, it needs to look great and make your food shine but you need to think about what that plate goes through day in, day out, in your restaurant. How many times does it have knives and forks grated across its face, waste food scraped or bashed off it into a bin? Is it being cleaned through an industrial dishwasher with industrial detergents, as well as being warmed up or cooled down at the drop of a hat? When you think about it like this, the humble plate has to withstand an awful lot on a daily basis.

Levels of use will vary between establishment but the point is, this is a huge consideration when choosing your plates. Who likes being served food on a chipped plate, or a plate where the glaze is so worn it’s patchy? Suffice it to say, your guests will notice. They may not tell you there and then but the social media posts will tell you. You want to keep your plates looking a million dollars, without replacement costs adding up to a million dollars, each time one is chipped or smashed.

The choice of tableware is yours and a little extra research into your favoured tableware may go a long way to stopping expensive replenishments. Weighing up your usage against the durability of the plate is simple. When requesting samples, ask about glaze durability, dishwasher and microwave suitability, detergent testing and ability to withstand thermal shock. It’s likely these details will be posted on the manufacturer’s website as well.

What about Edge Chip Warranties?

Edge chip warranties are widely offered direct from ceramic tableware manufacturers, we have one at Dudson. We offer a lifetime edge chip warranty across all our ranges because we know that our products are designed specifically for use in commercial kitchens, and are confident that they will withstand the daily rigours plates are put through. There are other manufacturers that offer lifetime warranties and a plethora that offer extended warranties, but check out the small print T & Cs, especially for any retail-style product that you are considering for commercial kitchens. Ultimately, you don’t want your plate to chip in the first place. Choosing the right plate for the right environment can go a long way to stop edge chipping.

Think long term not just about today.

Remember, don’t be put off by a higher initial outlay on the perfect plate for your restaurant that combines aesthetics and durability. An informed, researched choice will certainly be cheaper in the long term than a fancy looking, domestic style product, which really hasn’t been designed for use in a commercial kitchen and will chip for fun. Initial installation costs vs costly replenishment rates should be of paramount consideration in your decision-making process.

Post before you eat.

With over two billion Facebook and one billion Instagram users, it is more likely than not that a large percentage of your guests will post a snap of what they have been served, even before tasting it. Love it or loathe it, this phenomenon is not new and it’s definitely growing in popularity. Your food is obviously the star of the post but its background, canvas or simply the plate or dish it’s served on, plays an important part too. Take some phone pictures yourself so you are seeing your food in the same way as your potential paying customers. Ask yourself, is it the right plate for the food? As well as showing off your food to the max, make sure your plate choices can be flexible and work with multiple menu items – again, it might be obvious, but it will save on storage space, money and time.