After 21 years of being a potter, Oakland-based artist Travis McFlynn has carved out a niche for himself in the Bay Area’s restaurant scene.
McFlynn has worked with the likes of Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, John Toki and Peter Callas, he states. He brings the skills he learned at the potter’s wheel to create a line of ceramic flameware of his own design. Today, his list of “collaborations” with Bay Area chefs grows and grows.
His flameware line, “Oso,” is built of ceramic and is versatile enough to handle cooking in gas or wood stoves or wood-burning ovens. Among their features are the ability to withstand use in “high volume” restaurants, a semi-porous material that allows heat and moisture to circulate through the pot and a non-reactive surface that, unlike metal pots and pans, can accommodate acidic foods.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s writeup of McFlynn’s business makes it appear as though he produces high-end bespoke cookware, but the prices of his wares seem reasonable. The most expensive item in his store is a nine-quart Dutch oven for $325.
The Chronicle’s writeup of McFlynn is worth reading. It nails down the intersection of art and design which the potter inhabits. This anecdote, in particular, is illustrative of his mindset:
McFlynn was taking his first pottery class when he met instructor Joseph Bennion, a ceramicist who invited him into his home studio and decided to make him a tomato sandwich. First they went to his garden to pick said tomato, one so large it curled up on itself.
“The plant was, like, aware of me,” says McFlynn. “I put my hands underneath it and it just let go.”
And, he recalls, it didn’t turn into just any tomato sandwich. The grain in the bread and the salt were from down the road, and one bite was eye opening.
“There was this little bit of embarrassment, like, ‘Where have I been?’” admits McFlynn, who says that the fact that he’s from the younger, MTV fast-food culture allowed him to be more curious about the simplicity of Bennion’s life. “It was amazing. I wanted that. I was kind of like a forest that hadn’t been burned in a long time, so when I went up, I went up quickly.
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