Cuisine culture

Fine dining events showcase the practical side of ceramics
Cuisine Culture
Courtesy of Kala Stein
Canadice potter Kala Stein and Canadaigua ceramics gallery owner Kate Money display bowls used in a fine dining event in Naples.

June 15: Pottery Party after the Western New York Pottery Festival at Studio Sales in Avon

Sept. 21: Dinner in the Vineyard II, Cuisine Culture and Damiani Winery in Hector

Click here to learn more and buy tickets.

An unusual culinary experience in Canandaigua celebrates the bounty of the Finger Lakes region by serving gourmet meals on local handmade ceramics. For three years, Cuisine Culture has demonstrated the beauty and usefulness of hand-thrown pottery at Coach Street Clay, a gallery owned by Kathryn Money. Her partner in the Cuisine Culture project is Kala Stein, a visiting faculty member at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

A rotating team of area chefs serve locally-sourced food along with wine and beer. Patrons purchase their tableware—made by Money and Stein—and are encouraged to use it every day. The food growers who produce the ingredients for the meal are duly recognized, and dine alongside the patrons. The pace is leisurely, with ample opportunity for shared conversation.

According to Money, good food matters—and she wants people to understand this by creating a special atmosphere where the entire experience is handmade and interactive. She feels there is an intimacy between the artist and the elegant bowl serving the food—as well as a bond between the farmer and the chef.

One such recent event was held in Money's working studio in at the rear of her building, where guests are surrounded by her potters’ wheels, kilns, and clay storage containers. The event was called Stew in the Studio and featured Steve Byington of Rio Tomatlan restaurant in Canandaigua, and chefs Michelle Halloran and Melissa Neubauer of Roots Café in Naples. On the menu was Bloomfield Buffalo Stew and Southern Tier Stout Brined Lamb Guisado—prepared with lamb from Sweet Grass Meats in Naples and buffalo from the Wild Side Ranch in Bloomfield.

Cuisine Culture events have consistently sold out, starting with the first formal dinner dance in the vineyard at Inspire Moore Winery and Roots Café. At each function, business sponsors help supply the services and goods. The Rabbit Room in Honeoye Falls hosted the 2012 event, which highlighted products from First Light Creamery of East Bethany and Muranda Cheese Company of Waterloo. Two events are being planned for 2013.  One will be an informal gathering for patrons and artists at the end of the June 15-16 second annual Western New York Pottery Festival, and will be held on the lawn of Mike Carroll’s Studio Sales Pottery in Avon. There are demonstrations planned, along with sales that will be open to the public. A second event will be a dinner in September at Damiani Wine Cellars on Route 414 in Burdett.

Cuisine Culture events and Coach Street Clay have helped each other grow. Since its opening in 2010, Coach Street Clay is a gathering place for regional artists and their patrons. Potters present lectures about their work and learn from each other, both in the studio and during informal socializing. Meanwhile, Money maintains working connections with other businesses on Main Street; her art is on display in F. Oliver’s Oils and Vinegars and her mugs are used at The Dalai Java.

Coach Street Clay sales space also features Money’s work. She uses a combination of hand-building and potter’s wheel techniques to create pieces featuring her distinct style of minimal, linear, geometric patterns. As Money moves around the display area showing the phases in her development, it becomes obvious she is studied in her explorations.

“I work in a series. Each investigation leads to the next investigation. However, I am thinking always about making pieces that will appeal to all ages,” says Money, who realizes that she must maintain the ability to pay her business expenses as well. She listens closely to customers’ remarks, and often a single comment is the impetus moving her into a new direction.

“We must get people here to buy items that will be functional, whether it is a mug to be used, or a ceramic piece to be placed in a special spot.”

Coach Street Clay has an eclectic collection of contemporary ceramics from Finger Lakes artists.  “You don’t see the work of production potters here,” she says.

Money holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She honed her skills as artist in residence at Rochester’s Genesee Center for the Arts. In the winter of 2007, Money spent several months at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, an artist’s colony in Snowmass, Colo. At that point, Money became focused.

“While away I was looking to have a home base,” says Money, referring to her hometown of Canandaigua. While at RIT, Money took a class called Professional Business Practices in the Crafts that helped her form her new ceramics gallery. “We were to imagine where we would be in five to ten years, and create a business plan. I had a solid vision to buy an old barn, renovate it, live upstairs and run a gallery.”

When the time came to go to the bank for the loan to start her Canandaigua business, Money took out her old college notes and was astonished that she was following this plan exactly. There were hurdles to overcome during the two-and-a-half year process from loan, planning board approval to opening the doors one block from Main Street. “Everyone questioned me. Why was I trying to save a dilapidated building?” says Money.

For more than two years, she labored to restore the old building at 39 Coach Street—along with her father, Dwight Symonds, a carpenter; her husband, Travis; and numerous friends. One of the first things required was to jack up the building to replace its foundation.

The road hasn’t been easy, but Money is happy with what’s been accomplished: “I’m heading in the right direction," she says.

Kay Thomas is a freelance writer living in the Genesee Valley whose writings can be found at Thomas is the author of a book of essays called And One More Thing.
Categories: Taste, Taste – Top Story