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The Miniatures of Jon Alameda
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This month we are focusing on the new MINI trend. You’ve seen it all over social media, people making mini pancakes in a mini kitchen, with a mini frying pan. This seems kitsch and silly… but the art of miniaturizing is not easy.

I am lucky to call Chef Bob Spiegel my partner. He is the master at miniaturizing a meal into one bite. I often tease him, and ask if he carries a shrink ray in his pocket. Or maybe he’s just happy to see me.

When Bob and I first started Pinch Food Design, we wanted to focus on “stand–up food.” By that we meant, not sit down plated meals, which we love to do now! But in the beginning we really pushed to elevate the cocktail party experience by creating perfect one-biters passed on intentionally curated trays. We always were solution driven with our tray designs, by truly taking the specific attributes and challenges of the menu item in mind. So a fluffy fried beignet would never be served on a flat silver tray, it would roll all over the place. For this we would create special nooks, or round divots for the mini spheres to rest in place until a guest picked it up and delighted in its tastiness.

Recently we came across another master of miniature, Jon Alameda, of Alameda Pottery. His Instagram is quite addictive.

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Almeda’s pieces are often small enough to sit atop a coin or matchbook. A custom designed motorized curio wheel is needed to achieve the level of precision necessary for such small scale ceramics. “Throwing small really allows me to focus on the shape and form of a piece. It is a very meditative form of creation.”

“Size does matter,” writes Tacoma, Washington artist Jon Almeda on his pottery website. Tiny hand thrown ceramics at 1” (2.54cm) scale are now Almeda’s specialty, despite starting his career with much bigger pieces. He describes the critical moment online:

While browsing a book store, I came across a book called ‘Creating Ceramic Miniatures‘ that really changed my whole outlook and approach.

He’s even developed a special wheel for throwing his tiny pots. It’s a tiny pottery wheel, only two inches in diameter, atop a motor the size of a walkie-talkie. You can see much more of Almeda’s work on his website, including in-progress videos. Jon Alameda, is not only a great talent, he is also a member of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. I’m hoping to get Chef Bob to join the Guild next year!

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Pinch Food Design, the duo of Bob Spiegel and TJ Girard, is a top-tier NYC culinary veterans with extensive experience in event catering and design. Pinch writes the Design Milk column called Taste.