The Tabletop Challenge

“Why ask the manufacturers themselves when we have Morgan Tucker right here in the front row?” boasts Dave Turner from Tabletop Journal, and I begin to blush.

“Morgan and her team sell more Steelite than anyone, and two of her top sales people are competing today” in the annual Tabletop Challenge brought to you by Tabletop Journal and sponsored by EveryWare Global, VerTerra Dinnerware, MADHOUSE by Michael Aram, and of course Steelite International.

Each year, leading designers, consultants, and culinary professionals are invited to select from an assortment of innovative tabletop items and mystery props and create a themed tablescape that shows their skillset, individuality, and the trends they are loving right now. Everyone on the show floor is then invited to vote for their selection and winners are announced at the end of HX: The Hotel Experience.

The camera is rolling under the bright lights of the newly renovated Javits Center and all eyes (let’s be honest, not many of them) are staring at the four competitors. It is clear where my allegiance lies… both Katie McNamara and Tess Rex, account executives at M. Tucker, have chosen to wear some of the diverse props available to them instead of just decorating their tables and I too am adorned in a Santa hat in solidarity.

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The sound is different this year… not because there are no longer birds in the rafters… but because there is a buzz. It’s not loud like the old days of the IHMRS or of the same caliber of excitement as the BDNY show happening simultaneously on the other side of the convention center… but it will be alive again next year because of the meaningful changes made to HX in 2015.

In corner number 1 we have Katie’s table. This presentation is centered on a pig shaped charcuterie board from Welsh, distributed by Steelite and awarded the highest quality slate in the world. The rustic farm motif is accompanied by hedgehog salt and pepper shakers, birch tree candlesticks from MADHOUSE, kinder-cones, and frosted glass bottles from Bormioli Rocco. Innovative new olive colored stemless water and wine glasses from Stolzle pair well with the mix of brown and green Steelite dinnerware from Thailand, England, and Mexico.

In corner number 2 we have Tess’s table, a cooler approach with silver, blue, and gray hues. Tess’s arrangement is an eclectic mix of dinnerware with disposables from VerTerra and MADHOUSE, reusable melamine by Delfin, and porcelain by Rene Ozorio. To compliment the varying finishes of plateware she chose a new textured flatware pattern from Oneida. This setting is rounded out with stainless mint julep cocktail glasses from Creations and etched stemware from Rona.

“What do you think of the multi-million dollar re-imagination and rebranding of the show this year,” Dave questions me in front of a growing crowd while the competition is well underway.

“I’m finally excited about the future of this show!”

For images from the intense competition, visit Dave’s Instagram feed @tabletopjournal or follow me @littlemtucker @littlemtuckernyc #tabletopmatters


Morgan Tucker
Morgan Tucker is the Director of Business Development at Singer M. Tucker and founder of LMT. Ms. Tucker advises a wide diversity of acclaimed restaurateurs, celebrated chefs, and industry leaders across the U.S. LMT is a thoughtfully curated brand of hospitality provisions that can be sourced through the Singer family of companies. To consult with our team, please email