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  • Tom Kerridge on a visit to Sytch Farm studios. Image courtesy of Sytch Farm studios

Dishes of the day

Chef Tom Kerridge talks to Grant Gibson about ceramics and a new show he has co-curated

A new exhibition at York’s Lotte Inch Gallery explores the symbiotic relationship between food and ceramics. Dish features plates, chargers, platters and more from the likes of Muddy Fingers, Reiko Kaneko, Tamsin Arrowsmith-Brown and Sue Paraskeva. Intriguingly, it has been co-curated by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge – he has spent the last few years building up relationships with the makers who appear in the show for his Marlow pub, The Hand and Flowers. ‘We like to embrace small-scale manufacturing across the board, whether it’s brewers, woodworkers, anything to do with British making,’ he explains in his trademark West Country burr when asked how he came to be involved. ‘And that includes ceramics and plates.’ 

Kerridge’s interest in clay started when he met his sculptor wife, Beth Cullen-Kerridge, whose father ran a pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. However, as he says: ‘I’ve always been interested in art and the vision and value of something being created by a person – whether it’s tables or a painting, or food or artisan beer. I think the fact that somebody puts a process into it and has touched it and made it with heart and soul is very, very important.’ 

Fine bone China plates by Reiko Kaneko. Image: © 2016 Reiko Kaneko

He believes the right plate ‘creates a space and an atmosphere… Some things add value and some things take away. It’s about finding a happy balance between ones that are all about the plate or ones where the plate helps enhance the food. Some of the dishes that we cook, although quite intricate in terms of the amount of work that goes into them, look incredibly simple by the time they’re plated up. And in a lot of cases that allows the plate to speak for itself.’ 

When he’s selecting a ceramist to work with, there are some important criteria. ‘Some ceramists make things that are artistic, but we need pieces that are practical. These plates get used three or four times every service – they need to come back, have heavy usage in a very busy two Michelin-starred environment and go through the dishwasher.’ 

So what do the ceramists he’s celebrating in Dish have in common? ‘We work with honest, great ingredients but we treat them with an elegance that takes them to another level. It’s something that people recognise as remaining true to its roots. And I think that’s what comes across with the ceramists we use.’ 

Dish is at Lotte Inch Gallery, York, 9 March to 6 May.