Dinnerware that breaks the mold

Remember when all plates were round? Today's cutting-edge dishes are just as likely to be square, rectangular, triangular, scalloped or kidney-shaped.

As chefs have embraced global cuisines and are experimenting with more artistic presentations, they are looking for dinnerware to make a bold statement.

G.E.T. Enterprises, Inc., has introduced a series of melamine serving and buffet service patterns with bold shapes, patterns and colors. Its Venetian Series has a classic look in yellow and ocher, is dishwasher safe, durable and affordable. Its new Brew & Bake Collection is classic black and white, suitable for dessert, coffee or cappuccino service.

For tabletop pieces that are fun, funky and eclectic, Impulse Enterprises features several vibrantly colored selections in acrylics and other unusual materials. Want a bamboo tray or bright lacquer bowl to complement your menu or milieu? You can search their site, www.impulseenterprises.com, by product category, material, color or theme to find just the right accent and table setting.

Some operators want dinnerware that doesn't compete with the food but provides an elegant backdrop. Mikasa by Cardinal has three lines, Grands Chefs, Grandes Tables and Spirit New Design, each of which focuses on classic white. With names such as Divinity, Sublime, Purity and Moon, you can almost feel the cool serenity of the pieces. Cardinal/ Mikasa is also one of the largest U.S.-based tabletop suppliers, providing one-stop shopping for glassware, flatware and decorative accessories that mix or match perfectly.

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When planning your menus, take note: college and university students think spicy is hot.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

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The eatery, Sweet Home Cafe, was set up to highlight the wide range of African-American cuisine, Executive Chef Jerome Grant told Time. When it officially opens later this month, it will serve dishes such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted oysters and a fried catfish po’boy.

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