Fine dining Masque found the perfect partner for plating their food
Masque x Curators of Clay: Perfect pairing
“Our moods and even the seasons influence our palette. Our work is an extension of our personalities” – Rohit Kulkarni, Co-Founder, Curators Of Clay
A hunt for the right plating partner for his minimalist fare led Prateek Sadhu, head chef and co-owner of Mumbai’s stellar fine-dine, Masque, to Curators Of Clay. Here, he talks about why the folks behind the Pune pottery studio make for the perfect collaborators.
When Aditi Dugar and I set out to open Masque, we knew we wanted the space to be minimal — all clean lines and muted tones, with influences of Nordic design and the Japanese philosophy of wabi wabi running through it. But we weren’t content with stopping at the decor. Everything you see at Masque today draws from these elements — from the food, right down to the plates we serve it on. We worked tirelessly in the kitchen to achieve the first. And for the second, we took a road trip.
From left: dinner plates, bottles with ceramic stoppers; both Curators Of Clay. Berry yoghurt with granola. ‘Iridescent Dinner Spoon’, Rs. 1,890 (set of four), Thelabellife.com
I first met Rohit Kulkarni and Bhairavi Naik of Pune-based pottery studio Curators Of Clay in July 2016, two months before we threw open the doors of Masque to the public. They both gave up their careers in media before opening their atelier in Bhugaon, on the outskirts of the city. When I saw their work, the realisation was instant. From the shape and size of their creations, to the glaze they chose to use, it was exactly what I had been hunting for. I felt like they already understood the direction we were headed in with Masque — to make the entire meal an experience, not simply put food on a plate. Think of it this way: the food is the creation; the plate is the canvas. They have to complement each other. That’s the only way you get a work of art.
From left: Prateek Sadhu, Rohit Kulkarni and Bhairavi Naik
I jumped head first into the process, working closely with Rohit and Bhairavi, deciding not only on the colours and designs, but materials, characteristics…I would obsess over every inch. They have an exceptional understanding of their craft, and a unique style and sensibility. They also have dozens of different ideas on how to innovate and push boundaries with every piece they design.
From right: Platters and small bowls, bisque-fired bowls and tall mugs, dinner place setting; all Curators Of Clay
Which is why I loved this shoot so much. It let me bring my product to them for once, instead of the other way around. We were on set at the studio by 4am, struggling and desperate for some tea. Rohit didn’t think twice before firing up his kiln and putting a kettle on. It was a saviour, and really got us through the morning. In turn, I whipped up some breakfast to go with it — berry yoghurt with granola, avocado sourdough toast, lemon tart with mulberries, French toast with honey and Pondicherry chocolate, and eggs with Parma ham and mushrooms. Everyone was starving and the food vanished in seconds.
From right: Tea being made in the kiln. A kettle that didn’t make the cut. Creamers, bowls and plates; some bisquefired, others awaiting firing
Working with Rohit and Bhairavi is always a blast. I’ll pick up the phone and explain what I want, we’ll discuss the vision, and they’ll offer brilliant ideas of how to turn my thoughts into reality. Sure, we may argue over glazes, timelines and delivery dates, but they’re part of the family now, squabbles included.
“We develop our own glazes from scratch, in earthy tones such as blue, green and grey” - Bhairavi Naik, Co-Founder, Curators Of Clay
Cream cheese dressing, sourdough For the cream cheese dressing: 50gm cream cheese, 1gm salt, a pinch of pepper
Beat the cream cheese in a bowl till there are no lumps. Add salt and pepper to taste
Toast slices of sourdough. Spread butter followed by the cream cheese dressing. Place sliced avocados on top. Garnish with some herbs or seed granola.
‘Iridescent Heart Spoon’, Thelabellife.com
Eggs, Parma ham and king oyster mushrooms
Fill a pan with water and set to boil. Adjust the heat to keep the water simmering. Break eggs one at a time into a small cup. Hold the cup close to the surface of the pan. Gently slip the egg into the simmering water. Cook until the egg white is completely set and the yolk begins to thicken, but is not hard. Do not stir. Lift the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cut a slice of sourdough and spread on any flavoured butter. In a serving plate, place the poached egg, Parma ham and seared mushrooms.
Lemon tart with mulberries. ‘Brass Dinner Knife’, Thelabellife.com.
Blind bake for the perfect crust. It seals the surface of the pastry and the result is crisp.
French toast with honey and Pondicherry chocolate. ‘Brass Dinner Knife’, Thelabellife.com
Use full-fat dairy for a richer French toast and sprinkle sugar on each side for a nice caramelised crust
Photographs: Tanuj Ahuja
Art Director: Mrudul Pathak Kundu