Silver service is an old-school routine often performed at flashy restaurants. A dish is served tableside by a waiter who holds a spoon and fork in one hand and plates up the food on individual dishes. The waiter is usually buttoned up, and almost always throws in a few theatrical spoon and fork manoeuvres.

Culinary creatives Claire Ellis and Simone Jude have run with the idea of restaurant drama and theatricality with Service, a new Melbourne culinary label where the playful tableware embraces that often-romanticised domestic aesthetic and combines it with the finesse of silver service.

The debut collection includes three cream-coloured products – a serving platter, cake stand and a serving tray with a swan handle – and will launch at an event at Oigall Projects in Fitzroy on Sunday June 16, with a drop on Service’s website to follow soon after.

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Ellis started working as a junior sous chef at Attica in 2018. She had an interest in ceramics and began making tableware for the Ripponlea fine diner, going so far as to set up an in-house studio. She took on the title of chef-ceramicist before she left hospitality to focus on her art practice in April 2021.
After creating pieces for restaurants including Mo Zhou’s Gaea and the now-shuttered Lume, Ellis “wanted to collaborate on tableware with a female chef for a change”, she tells Broadsheet. “I feel like through working in kitchens, in such male-dominated environments, I have kind of pushed away my femininity.”

For Service she teamed up with artistic director Simone Jude, a food stylist known for her romantic and slightly over-the-top aesthetic, who is also a pastry chef currently working with Alex Nishizawa at Bistra in Carlton. The pair has created a brand with a strong feminine identity that they say also embraces the “true notion of hospitality and what it means to be a great host”.

The pieces are all made with sustainability in mind, but Ellis says she wants to change our ideas of what a sustainable aesthetic means. “It doesn’t always need to be minimal or rustic, but can be polished, highly decorative and feminine.” The designs are plush, romantic and dreamy, and feel more like something from the 1800s or the set of Downton Abbey than 2024.

The ceramicist, who works out of a studio at Twelve 80 in Coburg North, created a material akin to bone china that is made up of 15 per cent eggshells. “It took some testing, different recipes and percentages to get it to not melt,” she says.

Each Service piece is inspired by a recipe developed by Jude and comes with a recipe card so you can re-create it. Lamingtons inspired the ornate serving platter, it was a tiered chocolate cake for the stand, and we have neenish tarts to thank for the scalloped serving plate with a swan handle in the centre.