“Everything here is a story,” Hedda Gioia Dowd says of her salon de soufflé Rise No. 1 in Inwood Village. That’s because everything inside this restaurant has had a former life, like the wine bottles repurposed as drinking glasses and the vintage linen on the tables. “Everything here from the mud on the walls to the flatware to the doors is recycled,” Dowd says. And everything is made with local ingredients, something inspired by her childhood summers in France, where she would spend time making soufflés with her grandmother, who always cooked with whatever was in season at the farmers market. “There’s a natural marriage between food and art — when they blend, it adds to the overall sensory of your meal.” For that reason, Dowd serves her soufflés on works of art, literally: All of the plates used at Rise No. 1 are handmade, locally of course, by art students at Brookhaven Community College. “It gives [students] an opportunity to practice their expertise,” she explains. And in return, students are treated to a luncheon at Rise No. 1. Every semester, Dowd gives each art class a project based on the restaurant’s needs. Students spend the semester creating handmade bowls, creamers, bread plates and sauce dispensers — leaving their handprint or fingerprint on each piece they create. Most customers don’t know that all of Rise No. 1’s dishware is local art, but once they find out, Dowd says, it’s always deeply appreciated. “Visitors are absolutely moved.” So moved, in fact, that some even purchase a ceramic piece to take home, which retails at the store for about $40 to $100. “Everyone feels something when they come in and leave with something individual — it’s very meaningful.”
For more information about Rise No. 1, visit risesouffle.com.
For more information about Brookhaven Community College’s art program, visit brookhavencollege.edu/instruction/bcsa/art.
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