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From Line Cook To Potter: This Westchester Artisan Does Dishes With Care

Sleepy Hollow resident Connor McGinn works out of the Clay Art Center in Port Chester.
Sleepy Hollow resident Connor McGinn works out of the Clay Art Center in Port Chester. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick
Food stands out on specially designed plates from Connor McGinn Studios.
Food stands out on specially designed plates from Connor McGinn Studios. Photo Credit: Instagram
There's a subtle "CM" on the back of every product that comes out of Connor McGinn Studios.
There's a subtle "CM" on the back of every product that comes out of Connor McGinn Studios. Photo Credit: Instagram
Connor McGinn of Connor McGinn Studios.
Connor McGinn of Connor McGinn Studios. Photo Credit: Submitted
Pottery from Connor McGinn Studios.
Pottery from Connor McGinn Studios. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick

Plates that stack just right -- not just for loading in the dishwasher and storing -- but for picking up off the table.

Pasta bowls that are designed so the sauce pools at the bottom.

Dishes that show off the food.

Such are the thoughts that swirl in the mind of Connor McGinn, the force behind Connor McGinn Studios .

The Sleepy Hollow resident has been designing plates, dishes, mugs and bowls for local restaurants for the past three years and is dedicated to both the aesthetic of each piece as well as the vision behind them.

In making a plate for a restaurant, he's as much about creating a canvas for the chef to showcase his talents as much as he's about creating a subtle work of art. Simplicity, he stressed, is key.

"I try to capture the feeling of the restaurant and create plates that enhance that experience," explained the Carmel native.

It helps that he knows the business of food, having worked as a line cook at Restaurant North in Armonk.

His journey from kitchen to pottery studio -- he works out of a studio at Clay Art Center in Port Chester -- began at North when then Owners Eric Gabrynowicz and Stephen Mancini were in the process of opening Market North, the restaurant's casual cafe/market sibling.

Knowing McGinn had played around with pottery in college, Gabrynowicz asked for his input.

The goal was to create custom plates that spoke to the restaurant's mission of locally sourced, farm to table cuisine.

Being that the chef world is quite small, it wasn't long before his North collaboration led to a discussion with Michael Cutney, the chef/owner of The Twisted Oak in Tarrytown.

And so on.

McGinn's work -- it can take him two to six weeks to complete one piece based on the many steps involved --  is now in Tap Root in Bethel, Conn., Mezon Tapas Bar & Restaurant in Danbury, Blue Hill at Stone Barn in  Pocantico Hills,  Sweetgrass in Tarrytown as well as Restaurant Mixtli in San Antonio, TX. He also has plates and mugs for sale at Coffee Lab Roasters in Tarrytown.

And, the 29-year-old does custom orders as well as wedding registries meaning you can contact him through his website and get the same care and attention he gives to chefs. You can also buy select pieces online as well as at the gift shop at Clay Art Center.

McGinn, who bartends two nights a week at The Twisted Oak, admits he never thought he'd be where he is today -- at a point where he's considering a larger studio space and possibly an apprentice.

"I think the fact that I speak the same language as chefs has helped me grow," he said. "We have the same mentality."

Go to www.connormcginnstudios.com/ for more information.

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