A New Take on Social Impressions: Food “Beauty Shots” Show Off Distinctive Dinnerware


It’s a Social World

Newell, WV — Social media is changing the way many restaurants do business. Not only are chefs composing beautiful and tasty dishes for their patrons, but they’re also keenly aware that their customers are snapping photos of their meals and posting those pictures for the world to see on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Instagram. Not to be outdone, chefs themselves are posting, showing off their works of art and collecting new friends, followers, and “smiles” along the way.

This raises the bar for executive chefs like Richard Sweed, a self-taught restaurant “lifer” who is always thinking about the aesthetic composition of his presentations and what story the food and plating tells.

“In part, that’s why I post to social media. I work hard to create an impression, and I can learn a lot from how the pictures are received,” explained Sweed. 

This thoughtful approach is what motivated restaurant owners Carrie and Dale Boehm and Ted Anderson to bring in Sweed when they rebooted their restaurant space in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Rechristened Artisan 179, the restaurant sits on the shores of Pewaukee Lake, popular in the area for fishing and sailing. There, the group hammered out a fresh new concept focusing on seasonal and thoughtfully sourced food, spectacular flavor combinations and impressive presentation. Since the opening in February 2015, Sweed has aggressively pushed his artistic plate compositions on Instagram. 

Recently, in response to a post featuring one of his stunning creations, a new social media follower commented with an approving smile and then surprised Sweed with a question: “Is that Homer Laughlin?”

Walking down a similar path in a now widely connected “mediaverse,” Sweed’s and Homer Laughlin’s social worlds collided.

The Homer Laughlin China Company, a 140-year-old American manufacturer of foodservice dinnerware, uses social media to connect with restaurateurs and to encourage restaurant customers to acknowledge seeing the company’s dinnerware when they eat out.

The social media follower was Katie McIlvain, director of foodservice marketing for HLC Inc., of which the Homer Laughlin China Company and its dozens of foodservice brands is a part. She was glad, although not surprised, when Sweed replied.

“He confirmed it was our Embers™ dinnerware. I was happy because the line is new. But it’s also quite distinctive. I would have been shocked if we’d been wrong and it wasn’t ours,” said McIlvain with a laugh.

What happened next defies logic in this social media world, and maybe it reset the clock on communications a bit. They talked. Like on the phone.

 Chef Sweed and Artisan 179

“We called, frankly, for this story,” said McIlvain. “We wanted to know what attracted him to the Embers line. But Sweed’s story was even more pertinent than we’d imagined because it is precisely why we design distinctive dinnerware.”

McIlvain described a decades-old commitment to the Homer Laughlin Design Department, a stand-alone division where some history in dinnerware has been made. “Their job is to create a specialized palette for chefs like Sweed to build on. He is exactly why we have a design department and a whole team of artists creating new patterns.”

About HLC Inc.

Homer Laughlin, Kenilworth/RAK, and Hall China comprise the HLC Inc. family of companies, and their diverse range of lead-free commercial dinnerware meets every conceivable need for discerning chefs and restaurateurs. The HLC companies bring to the table a nearly endless selection, including scores of dinnerware collections – infinitely customizable by pattern or color – from Homer Laughlin; fine porcelain dinnerware from RAK for sophisticated settings; and timeless and durable bakeware and accessories from the Hall China Company. Setting the tone – not just the table – is at the heart of the HLC commitment to its customers. For more information, please contact HLC Inc., 672 Fiesta Drive, Newell, WV 26050. Phone: (800) 452-4462. Fax: (304) 387-0593. Web: www.hlcdinnerware.com Email: hlc@hlchina.com.