Plates To Remember

Carol Mott-Binkley with her vintage plates
Carol Mott-Binkley. Photo by Gabriel Teague.

A trip to New York City more than three decades ago ignited Carol Mott-Binkley’s obsession with vintage restaurant ware. “I was working for Tower Records at the time and went into Fishs Eddy,” the eclectic dishware store, she recalls. “That’s where I bought my first piece: a butter plate with pink and gray flowers.”

Since then, Mott-Binkley has accumulated a whimsical collection of plates and serving pieces from iconic restaurants and diners that fit her nostalgic aesthetic. “I love vintage clothes, vintage kitchen stuff. I have a 1964 vintage camper,” she explains. “I pride myself on being a Sacramento native, so if I find anything that was used in my childhood, especially from local restaurants that are no longer around, I have to have it.”

Some of the most coveted pieces in Mott-Binkley’s collection include soup cups from the Saint Francis hotel; a footed tiki bowl from Harveys Lake Tahoe; a condiment dish from the Nut Tree (a favorite childhood destination); and plates from the famed Beverly Hills Supper Club in her husband’s native Kentucky.

“My collection isn’t huge. I try to only buy things I can use day to day. I like plates where the food will really pop visually because I love to style and photograph food. I learned to cook from [Sacramento chef and restaurateur] Kurt Spataro, and he taught me how to plate food so that it’s appealing to the eye,” says Mott-Binkley. “And I like things that have a story. It’s like having a piece of history in your china closet.”