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Sara Baldwin Designs Blog

Culinary Trophies

Or, how to make a kitchen sexy.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, my sister Ellen (who helped start New Ravenna) carves museum quality trophy fish.

If you catch a huge rainbow trout, and want it memorialized because you released it to go make more baby trout (and you don’t mind shelling out at least a couple grand) then you call Ellen, because she’s the best. Seriously, she is.

One day we were musing about her clients’ urge to collect trophies and she informed me, “You know, it’s all about chicks.” Really? I said. “Absolutely. In cave-man days, you got the best mate if you displayed the most trophies. Obviously you were the finest provider and that talent gave you your choice of healthy babes.” Wow. Seems obvious now, but I’d never thought about it like that before. So actually she’s in the….sex appeal business??

In Europe, there is a centuries old tradition which embellishes kitchens with Culinary Trophies. Does anyone else remember the Country Floors delft tiles that depict a few fish hanging by their tails? A couple of dead pheasants, anyone? Rabbits? Yep. Culinary trophies.

I think this is Graham Rust

It was a classic theme for paintings as well–we’ve all seen those “after the hunt” still-lives. It’s ironic that most of us no longer find (generally speaking) these sorts of portrayals appetizing in a kitchen, wimpy Americans that we are, especially since most of us tend to relish the same beasts in their cooked form.

Thus currently culinary trophies generally favor safer subjects like vegetables, fruit, wine, herbs–sometimes with a lobster thrown in for good measure.

photo from Country Floors website

By choosing these kinds of motifs, I think a kitchen owner is saying “See how lovely our sources of nourishment are? This kitchen will provide you with wonderful meals made from this sort of produce”. He/she is subtly setting a stage of anticipation for their family and guests. It’s almost as if the kitchen is attempting to impress and woo you–to get you to shack up with it by implying that only sumptuous ingredients are used there.

When Tom Broderick from The Cabinetry in Sylvania, Ohio went to Virginia Tile in Troy, Michigan (just north of Detroit) to source a back splash for his clients, his initial inspirations were from classic Culinary Trophies. In fact, he introduced me to the catchy term. While at Virginia Tile, he was attracted to a New Ravenna glass mosaic concept board depicting a blue bird on a branch . Virginia Tile called us, and they used New Ravenna’s team to clarify Tom’s vision of a glass mosaic culinary trophy above a blue La Cornue stove. As you can see below, the project had several iterations, culminating in a more symbolic, less specific culinary trophy, but inspired by the idea nonetheless.

After finalizing the design, colorway, and receiving the paper template, Bobby, one of our star mosaicists, was tasked with the job of bringing Tom’s vision to life.
As I observed the progression of the lovely design I admired how they specified an ivory/bone colored background instead of the stark white that was in the original concept board.

I immediately started plotting how I could receive photographs of the job once it was installed (If you want to make my day, send me installation photos, preferably ones that I can post on this blog). I nagged Meredith (New Ravenna account rep) for photos once it was shipped. I worried that the installer would screw up the installation.

Custom Acanthus kitchen backsplash in Quartz, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Spinel, Mica glass (New Ravenna Mosaics)

Custom Acanthus kitchen backsplash in Quartz, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Spinel, Mica glass (New Ravenna Mosaics)

As you can see, my worries were for naught and I got my wish. Thank you Tom (and generous clients with great taste)! The installer did a fine job, Tom and Virginia Tile made my day, and I am forever grateful. And isn’t this a sexy kitchen? I guess in a sense we are all in the sex appeal business.

4 Responses to “Culinary Trophies”

  1. . says:

    Just beuatiful project!
    ;-) Joe

  2. Wow you sisters are true artists! Beautiful

  3. Sara Baldwin says:

    Thanks guys! I am proud to be associated with this project and…my baby sister! Lots of talent tapped here.

  4. Everyone involved did a beautiful job with that backsplash. The cream was the perfect choice for the background given the rest of the room.) Lovely! :)

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About Me

Sara BaldwinSara Baldwin

Exmore, Virginia, United States

New Ravenna Mosaics founder and Creative Director, Owner, Sara Baldwin Design, Bass guitar player, Envisioner, Appreciator of the Sublime and Ridiculous.


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