C California Style

New Plate Special

by C California Style

The innovative chefs behind forthcoming L.A. eatery Trois Mec will set a well appointed table.

While restaurants across the state are one-upping each other with the most rarefied produce and inventive interiors, the dishware selected is still, typically, straight off a foreign assembly line.

“The owner or the chef will pick out all of these things by hand—the decor, chairs and lighting,” says Vinny Dotolo. He and Jon Shook are the James Beard Award-nominated chefs and co-owners of West Hollywood restaurants Animal and Son of a Gun. “They decide on the food, and then they start to order plates and glasses through some catalog. Why not curate a plate that’s original, too?” For Dotolo and Shook’s third venture, a 16-table nook on Highland Avenue in Hancock Park, they joined forces with Ludo Lefebvre, the French-American chef and TV personality known for his trend-setting LudoBites pop-ups. The project, called Trois Mec (French slang for three friends), injects the local food scene with a holistic approach.

“We’re becoming more in touch with everything we do,” says Dotolo, adding that in true L.A. fashion, the restaurant is in a strip mall. “We go to the farmers’ market three times a week because the
beliefs of the growers are in line with ours. It’s the same thing now with the dishware.”

The trio recruited Adam Silverman, founder of Atwater Pottery and a partner at Heath Ceramics, to help select a collection of cups, plates and bowls made by local potters: Victoria Morris, Pilar Wiley and Roger Herman (possibly better known for his Abstract Expressionist painting and UCLA tenure). Akio Nukaga of Japan made the coffee and tea cups.

“Typically, fancy French dishes with a pattern on them would connote elevated fine dining, but these guys have a different attitude,” says Silverman. “A lot of what we put together is very crude. It’ll be interesting to see what goes on them.”

The legacy of Mid-century masters Gladding, McBean; Bauer; and Sausalito-based Heath is alive and well for this generation. Since Heath’s 2003 revival, ceramics have become a staple in west coast restaurants. Bauer Pottery rekindled its relationship with Russel Wright to reproduce ’40s-era dinnerware with great success. It’s a logical next step to commission one-of-a-kind pieces. The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, for example, sought out wine country artist Nikki Ballere Callnan to create its chargers. Locally made dishes are more sustainable since many of the artists use native clay and fewer resources are consumed when they aren’t shipped across great distances.

“To go through the trouble of market-to-table, then to put the food on a plate made in a factory doesn’t make sense,” says Silverman. “The real test will be in a year from now to see if they’ve replaced them all.” 716 N. Highland Ave., L.A.; troismec.com.