The joy of having very few (but very nice) dishes
Millennials are not only not buying fine china, they aren’t interested in inheriting it either. While the world has become more casual, it has also become more eco-conscious—favoring quality and ethical manufacturing. This is the story of how I went from scoffing at nice dishes to splurging and why you should too.
A while back I was fixing myself a coffee before heading to my desk (this was when I had a “real” job) and my co-worker Greg comes sulking in, flip flops scuffing the concrete floor. I ask Greg what’s eating him and it turns out he broke a plate this morning. So I reply: “you should just break them all.”
My logic was if a broken plate is so upsetting, just get the misery over with now. Apparently, his wife bought fancy Heath plates (whatever that is) and they are $35 a piece. I go on nagging him about how he’ll never be able to retire if he goes around spending that much money on plates and how priorities really should be reviewed. By the way, no one’s had any actual coffee yet.
Fast forward three weeks. I’m sitting in Mazarine, a coffee shop on Market Street in San Francisco drinking a delicious cappuccino in a for-here cup thinking to myself “man, this is the nicest mug I’ve ever drunk out of.” So I lift it up to peer underneath to see the label.
I think you know where this is going.
I’ll never retire and neither will Ryan because I’m taking him down with me. So now I own Heath Ceramics and I’m not even a little bit sorry. Despite spending a large amount of my free time preaching about smart spending, no amount of frugality can take away how much I love these dishes. So here’s the breakdown of how many dishes I have.
All the dishes I own:
Heath Ceramics (Coupe Line) in Indigo Slate and Salt Shadow
4 Dinner Plates
4 Salad Plates
4 Pasta Bowls
4 Cereal Bowls
2 Studio Mugs
2 Espresso Cups & Saucer
David Mellor (Chelsea Flatware)
Odds and ends
2 sets of chopsticks
I got mine from a pop-up shop in Bryant Park but Muji has great ones too.
4 large, 4 small for drinking out of and storing food.
*I might cave and buy four more of each.
**We used to have eight but there were casualties in the move to NYC. The white ramekins are great for baking dessert in. The brown ones were made by a friend and are used for snacks or as extra coffee cups.
Less is more
We like to keep our dish count low and having them be a million dollars each makes that easy to stick to. Having fewer dishes means less cramping and clutter in your cabinets. There’s something so calming about a shelf that has a place for each of its occupants and some white space to spare, amirite? Owning fewer dishes has the added benefit that no matter how lazy you are, dirty dishes can’t pile up.
You can still host a party
Despite my small space situation, I do like to host dinner parties. They take on more of a cocktail party vibe since there’s not enough room for everyone to sit—and not enough dishes for everyone to eat—at the same time. You just have to plan ahead and make it work! We hosted a holiday/house warming party for twelve guests with a seafood brunch theme—clam chowder and a lox spread with cookies for dessert. More recently I served eight with butternut squash bisque, winter salad, and warm bread. Sensing a soup theme? That’s because it’s way easier to eat soup than it is to cut meat while standing.
Once people finish eating, they wash their dish so the next person can take a turn. 💪🏼
Maybe someone eats their soup out of a mug or maybe “dinner” gets eaten off a “salad” plate. 😱
Why I splurged on dishes
Buying local, high-quality products is better for the economy and the environment. Knowing how something is made and who made it can help you appreciate it more, stay connected to your community, and waste less. These dishes are one way for me to bring a little San Francisco into my New York City home.
Yes, durable. They are dishwasher and microwave safe. I haven’t broken a single dish and I’m really not sure what Greg was doing that morning but it might have been a leg lamp situation—a Freudian slip if you will.
Buy only what I need
Cheap one-size-fits-all dish sets are marketed as convenient and cost saving. But their real purpose is to get you to buy more. I used to not know any better and buy the set even though it had things I didn’t really need (dinner, salad, and dessert plates?). Heath Ceramics, and most other quality ceramics sell their pieces in sets as well as individually so you can choose exactly what’s right for you.
For flatware, I chose the Chelsea Line by David Mellor. I again skipped the set and opted for individuals which are available on didriks.com. If you really think about it, having different sized forks and spoons is an unnecessary display of opulence that we should drop as we did with the monarchy.
Easy to replace
What ultimately tipped my decision to buy from Heath Ceramics is that the Coup Line has been produced since 1948 and shows no signs of changing. That means if I do break a dish (or if Ryan pulls a Greg) I can just buy one single dish to replace it. In the past when I’ve bought dish sets they eventually get discontinued and then I’ve got a hodgepodge of dishes or I have to buy a whole new set and donate the orphans.
Mix and match
I like to mix it up and have pieces that go together but aren’t too matchy-matchy. I have two different glazes (Indigo Slate and Salt Shadow) which go great together but have different vibes—and let’s be honest, this blog is a great excuse for photogenic variety.
Food Tastes Better
I never quite understood the separate cabinet of untouchable china, but I can appreciate turning something ordinary like eating, into something special, and I much prefer to bring beauty into my everyday. Nearly everyone that has eaten with us says how much they like these dishes, but no one feels uptight around them.
Eating with beautiful dishes encourages you to slow down and taste your food. As I write this post, I’m eating cinnamon raisin toast with a perfect boiled egg on this perfect plate.
And coffee. Always coffee.