Best Dishes — Meaning Actual Plates, Bowls and Other Stuff You Need 

Critics' Pick

click to enlarge Mary Triplett handcrafts the serving ware at Heritage.

Scott Elmquist

Mary Triplett handcrafts the serving ware at Heritage.

Chef Joe Sparatta's inspired food gets the artistic setting it deserves with Mary Triplett's hand-thrown pottery crafted into plates, bowls and coffee service pieces.

Triplett, a server at Heritage and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University's craft and material studies program with a focus on pottery, first discussed the idea when she and Sparrata were working at Lulu's Restaurant. Years later it became a reality when he commissioned her to create ramen bowls for brunch service. Now, about half the dishes are plated on her creations.

The chef's preference is for rustic, earth-toned and understated pieces. And Triplett delivers, with bittersweet orange sugar bowls and creamers, and other bowls of celery green.

"It warms my heart when I deliver food and a guest comments on the piece," she says. And when a piece gets broken in the dining room? "Yeah, it hurts my heart a little, but it's a vessel, and it's supposed to serve a function. Besides, then I know what I'll be doing tomorrow."

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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