Finding good Latin American food in Germany isn’t easy. In a world of schnitzel and potatoes, a Hamburg restaurant called Salt&Silver transports you to the beaches of Latin America with their rich flavors and  comfort foods served on handmade ceramics. It’s a feast for both the eyes and the stomach.

When most of us travel, we come back with photos and post them on Facebook. The founders of Salt&Silver, Johannes Riffelmacher (Jo) and Thomas Kosikowski (Cosy), did much more than that. They saved enough money to live a year and went traveling in Latin America with a plan to document the things they loved and create a book out of it, “Reisen, Surfen, Kochen” (translated,”traveling, surfing, cooking”). The two men returned to their home in Hamburg to open the restaurant where they took everything they learned from their journey and integrated it into the menu. The result being an eclectic mix of street food and fine cuisine. Situated on the riverfront the restaurant is like an exposed brick cavern which takes you to a time and a place far away.

Here we talk with Cozy and Jo about why they decided to use handmade ceramics for their restaurant and about the response from their guests (some loving the ceramics a little too much!):

GLAZE: What drew you to working with food?
SALT&SILVER: Before we started salt&silver, we were already passionate hobby chefs for years. Even though we were working in media instead of gastronomy, we were already hosting little cooking events with our friends. We both come from families where cooking and eating together always played an important role.

G: How would you describe your the kind of food you make?
S&S: The phrase that describes it best might be an expression by Mexican chef Jose Luís Díaz, whom we met in Oaxaca: “Alta cocina pobre.” It translates to something like “The poor mans fine dining.” It means, we like to use simple products of good quality and like to turn them into something special by creativity and interesting cooking techniques. We mix street food origins with home cooking soul food style and add a little bit of fine dining plating skills.

G: Tell us why you decided to use handmade ceramics for Salt & Silver…
S&S: All we do comes straight from the heart, we wanted to express that in every detail in our restaurant. Plain white plates or industrially made products just don’t fit our style and our lifestyle. We want our guests to feel as if they were on a journey to an exotic country far away. We wanted an earthy rough plate to present our Latin American food. We think it fits the feeling you have while traveling through the rugged landscapes of Latin America.

G: Describe your creative process, how did you source your collection, why do you pick the pieces you pick?
S&S: We met two potters, Sebastian Airey from the UK and Laura Schmell from tōki ton in Hamburg, who both had the perfect style and understanding of what we wanted. It was a pilot project for all involved, Sebastian was focused on making vases, bowls, and cups, but never tried to make plates for example. And it was his first gastronomy project as well. So we told him roughly what we were looking for and then just trusted his skills and let him develop style and shape with all creative freedom he wanted. The briefing for tōki ton was, to make 200 individual small bowls and tiny plates in all shapes and colors for all the little salsas and sides. They turned out just perfect!

G: Do you have a private collection at home? How is it different from what you see in the restaurant?
S&S: We have a small collection of ceramics we found on our travels. Including pieces from Portugal, Barcelona, Mexico, and Denmark.

G: What has been the response from your customers about the ceramics?
S&S: People love it, we get a lot of positive feedback about them. We now start selling the restaurant edition in our online shop, since we get so many requests from guests who want to buy them. On the negative side: some people don’t understand the value those pieces have for us, they think one less can’t hurt and slip small items in their pockets. We lost about 40 items to thieves already.
 G: Who are your favorite potters? Are they different from the ones you have in your restaurant?
S&S: To be honest, we are so happy with what Sebastian and Laura created, that they definitely are our favorite potters. Apart from that, watching Tortus in Copenhagen throwing clay was very impressive. Still, the cooperation with our two friends grew into something all of us want to proceed with, I think we will keep developing new projects together. Keep it in the family!

G: What are you working on now?
S&S: We have two big projects in the pipeline, the next journey for our third cookbook, and building a creative cooking-surfing-living-working space by the ocean in Portugal.