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Setting the Table

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Food52's Editorial Assistant (and college student) Brette Warshaw is curating her very own first kitchen -- and she needs your help. Today: Brette starts setting the table, with plates, bowls, and silveware.



The eggs are fried; the onions, chopped; the batter, mixed; the zucchini, sliced. I’ve boiled my pasta, I’ve blended my soup, I’ve zested my lemons, I’ve roasted my carrots.

Thanks to you, cooking in my First Kitchen is getting easier: more streamlined, more efficient.

Now, for the (even more) fun part: eating.

Because what’s the fun of a perfectly-blended soup without a bowl to put it in, a spoon to eat it with? That perfectly-chopped salad is nothing without a dish to serve it on; that fried egg, burnt without a plate to catch it. 

There’s enough food to fill the table. Now: it’s time to eat.

Since this is a first kitchen, I have no real excuse for fancy flatware and silverware. (Sigh. My time will come.) Instead, I’m looking for plain, sturdy, dependable dishes, ones to stack and set and pile high with food. Wide plates, deep bowls: dishes ready to be filled. 

donna hay collection

To box or not to box?

My love for kitchenware has instilled a deep, bristly, and lasting distrust in boxed sets. 

It may be time to get over that.

Because for silverware, plates, bowls, and the like, many of the cheaper options come in a set. It’s the bulk bin of kitchenware: more bang for your buck. And since I’m big on entertaining, I’ll use both the small and large plates: for a college student, anything more than one course is fancy. Special. Elegant. 

Since my plates and bowls won’t be any of those adjectives, you can bet my food will make up for it.

The donna hay Modern Classic Dinnerware Collection ($49.99) seems like a good deal: white, sturdy, and plain. It’s a starter set for the mismatched patterns and scalloped edges of my dream kitchen, one that comes with the standard large plates, small plates, mugs, and bowls. On the other hand, CB2 carries single plates for $5.95: ones to add to my collection eventually, but ones that seem silly to buy separately to start. 

As for silverware, this 20-piece set from CB2 is clean, easy, and a touch funky: perfect accompaniments for the solid white dishes. 

ABC Home plate

Spicing it up

One of the best things about plain, white, boring dishes: they match well with anything. They’re the perfect blank slate to build a bright, patterned kitchen around, the perfect foils for the dishes I pick up along the way, that I pick up at vintage stores and yard sales, that I treat myself to at ABC Home, that I get as gifts for my birthday. I’m sure that you’ve collected these as you and your kitchens have grown up. Where are your favorite places to get silverware and dishware, and do you have recommendations for growing my collection?


Email me at [email protected] with your First Kitchen recommendations -- your favorite tools, your favorite cookware. All wisdom is appreciated.

Tags: first kitchen, plates, silverware

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