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Food has always been central for Elaine Corn, a longtime culinary journalist, cookbook author and former restaurant owner. So when she took up ceramics almost seven years ago, she inevitably found herself making pieces for cooking, serving and displaying food.
Working out of a studio at Alpha Fired Arts in North Highlands, the former Sacramento Bee food editor creates platters, prep bowls, baking dishes and other useful pieces for the kitchen. She uses her hands, not a potter’s wheel, to shape the clay, then decorates each piece with colorful glazes to complement specific foods.
She designed a gray-and-black scalloped platter to display lemons. A blue-and-white tray was envisioned as a cheese platter. For a series of chocolate-colored pieces she dubbed “Early Ganache,” she swirled cream-colored porcelain and brown clay together to make dishes for serving bonbons or cake.
Georgeanne Brennan commissioned Corn to make French-style gratin dishes for her online store, La Vie Rustic. They quickly sold out. Legendary grocer Darrell Corti owns one of her designs.
Many of Corn’s pieces can go from oven to table. A James Beard award winner for her 1994 book “Now You’re Cooking,” she uses her knowledge of cooking to make things that work as beautifully as they look. “If you’re roasting a chicken, you need a piece with sides to catch the juices,” she says. Small baking dishes have purposeful handles with notches for the cook’s thumbs. “It’s not art you look at,” she explains. “It’s art you use.”
Corn’s pieces cost $100 to $500. Available at Miele, 3324 Broadway.