Whether you are setting the table for a luxurious feast for a large party, or a cozy breakfast for two, the dinnerware the food is plated on is just as important as your menu itself. When choosing the perfect dinnerware for a beautiful tabletop setting, restaurateurs are faced with countless varieties of materials and styles to choose from. One dinnerware staple that has survived the test of time and has remained a classic is porcelain. With a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and different types of dinnerware options out there, sometimes just a pure white, porcelain plate is all a restaurateur needs to make a place in their patrons hearts.
What is Porcelain?
Dinnerware made from porcelain is aesthetically very elegant, and can elevate a dining experience to new height. So what exactly is porcelain, anyway? Porcelain is one of many variations that is derived from ceramic. As explained by Nicolette Bertolissi, porcelain is a combination of clay, kaolin clay, feldspar, silica, and quartz that is fired at temperatures above 2300°F. As a result of this high temperature, porcelain is very durable in comparison to other types of ceramic.
The history of porcelain dates all the way back to 2,000 years ago in China during the Han Dynasty. The people of China used porcelain to make the cups from which they drank their vast arrays of herbal teas, and also in their artistic endeavors like the famous hand painted porcelain statues and vases. In the beginning, China just about had a vice grip on the supply of porcelain that could enter other parts of the world, like Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, a fateful capturing of a Portuguese cargo ship carrying thousands of pieces of porcelain by the Dutch lead to potters all throughout Europe trying to replicate the formula for porcelain. Once a German physicist finally did crack the code in 1704, whole porcelain factories dedicated to crafting everything from dinnerware to statues, sprang up all throughout Europe. This eventually lead to porcelain taking the rest of the world by storm, and becoming a true staple of dinnerware.
The Difference Between Porcelain and Other Types of Ceramics
There are variations of ceramic, but the composition of clay and the temperatures at which they are baked is what makes them different from one another. Aside from Porcelain, the main other variations of cermaic are earthenware, stoneware, and bone china, as described in this article by Katom.
Earthenware is one of the oldest types of ceramic around. Earthenware is also one of the simplest to create, made from a less refined clay mixture and fired at a lower temperature than porcelain or stoneware. The result of this lower temperature process is a thicker, more porous ceramic. By glazing the earthenware, its porous surface diminishes. While porcelain allows for a practical and elegant tabletop, earthenware can additionally make for a great aesthetic presentation. To view our Earthenware collections, click here.
The next type of ceramic is stoneware. Stoneware is the middle ground between earthenware and porcelain. Unlike earthenware, stoneware can be made thinner and lighter. However, like earthenware, stoneware needs to be glazed.
A step up from porcelain is called bone china. It actually is porcelain, but with an added ingredient, bone ash. Incorporating bone ash into the clay mixture that goes into making bone china gives it a distinctive milky white and translucent look. Adding bone ash also helps make the ceramic more durable and less brittle. However, according to MS Trading Company, there are some drawbacks to bone china. Due to it’s durable and desirable aesthetics, bone china can come at a higher cost. Bone china is the most expensive ceramic out of the four types, and can be too delicate for daily use. Bone china is commonly used for special occasions, whereas porcelain can withstand the daily wear and tear of either home life or restaurant service. This makes porcelain dinnerware a perfect choice for the everyday restaurateur.
The Benefits of Porcelain
Out of all the types of ceramic that have been discussed, there are many reasons why porcelain stands out against its competition. Some benefits to porcelain include the fact that the mixture from which porcelain is created and the high temperature at which it is fired allows for porcelain wares to be dishwasher and microwave safe, making it ideal for day-to-day use whether at home, or at a restaurant. As discussed by plumstreetpottery.com, because porcelain is fired at approximately 2500°F and higher, it makes for the most durable, chip and scratch resistant material for food serving dishes. Additionally, porcelain-wares can also withstand high oven temperatures, while also withstanding low temperatures in a freezer.
Porcelain: The Right Choice!
From the vast array of ceramics out their to choose from, the elegance and durability of porcelain stands out. Whether it’s porcelain with a lovely pattern painted onto it, or just pure white-wares, porcelain makes for an elegant and safe dining experience no matter the setting or occasion. Porcelain more than earns its reputation as a go-to dinnerware for the home, or for the restaurant.