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Photo and styling by Heidi Robb
What is better than dinner and drinks at Toast Wine Bar in Gordon Square? How about dining on locally produced, handmade ceramic tableware created especially for your evening? For one night only from 6 to 10 p.m. this Wednesday, Nov. 9, Toast Wine Bar hosts a special evening featuring original, handmade ceramic tableware by Cleveland-based ceramicist Billy Ritter.
“We are super excited to team up with Billy Ritter for this special evening,” says the management of Toast Wine Bar. “When we have hand crafted plates that are made with our style of food as the focus, it creates a more satisfying experience for our guests. It allows them to eat with eyes as well as their mouths.”
The event follows local ceramicist Gina DeSantis’ similar event at Toast last year. However, Ritter says he was interested in a collaboration like this since college, and plans for this collaborative effort between Ritter and Toast began late last year.
“I’m a fan of Toast,” Ritter says. “I'm a fan of the neighborhood of Gordon Square. It has a great vibe and there is a cultural and intellectual dynamic of good feels that are cross pollinating and growing into something better each day. The inspiration point for me was that it simply is a match. I like the company they keep at Toast: the staff, the atmosphere, and most importantly their food! The collaboration with Jillian Davis and Chef Joe Horvath of Toast was totally organic. During a holiday sale last year, Jillian approached me and we discussed the idea and began bricking up the details by June of this year.”
New and returning guests are invited to Toast to dine on more than 300 plates and bowls specially designed by Ritter in cooperation with Toast’s Jillian Davis and Chef Joe Horvath. Ritter’s Toast-inspired wares include two different porcelains, a gray stoneware and a black midrange stoneware. All of Ritter’s wares are vitrified, food and microwave safe, though the artist encourages hand washing, they are dishwasher safe.
“This series of wares was tailored exclusively from a collaboration with Chef Joe. Several months ago I had him visit the studio and I asked for his input and listened to his thoughts and concerns. My intention was to craft wares that would create a harmony with the food being plated. Other points of consideration were aesthetics, photogenic attributes, general visual appeal, and practicality. In the end Joe and I decided on three forms: A dinner ‘big plate,’ a larger shallow bowl for pasta and soups, and a side plate for apps and charcuterie.”
Billy Ritter’s art education began in a graphic arts program at a vocational technical school during high school. He earned his BFA in painting from Slipper Rock University in Pennsylvania and his MFA in ceramics from Kent State University in 2010. During his time at Kent State, Ritter studied with legendary local ceramicists Kirk Mangus and Craig Lucas. In January, Ritter joined NewBridge Cleveland as their Teaching Artist of Ceramics.
There is no additional cost to dine at Toast this Wednesday. After dinner, guests will have the option to purchase the tableware used for their dinner
(Toast Wine Bar) 1365 W. 65th St., 216-862-8974, toastcleveland.com, billyritter77.com