Tips on Creating the Perfect Handmade Table Setting

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Carey’s Table is the creation of Carey Krause a self described “64 year old guy who has had a very fulfilled and diverse working life”. Carey creates beautiful handmade tableware, garden products and more. He is not only a late bloomer sewer, but someone with a lot of experience entertaining after 30 years in hospitality. Entertaining has always been one of his hobbies, as well as gardening, which he passionately loves.

Carey has had many different experiences across his working life, including being stationed in Papua New Guinea with the Commonwealth Bank in his late teens, on Bougainville Island. This was also the start of his hospitality career, working at night in a restaurant. After leaving PNG he lived in London working at the Kensington Hilton for 6 months, while waiting to take up a position as Flight Steward with Qantas airlines. He flew back to Sydney and worked with Qantas for 5 years and in those days, it was only international flights. He says these were 5 great years, with many stories to tell!

After leaving Qantas he had another 25 years working in hospitality. This included the Ridge Roof Top Restaurant which was on the top of the Ridge Motel, and was his introduction to Table Cooking. “The Ridge had a fantastic view of Brisbane and band with dancing every night” he remembers. After this position he moved to the Fountain Room, a magnificent Fine Dining Restaurant, in a stunning surround overlooking the Brisbane River and the Queen Elizabeth Fountain. After a number of other positions on the Gold Coast, Carey moved to Townsville and worked as a fine dining waiter on the Floating Hotel off the John Brewer Reef. He progressed to Restaurant Manager and Assistant Food and Beverage Manager and thoroughly enjoyed his time here. “After it sailed off into the Sunset (to Vietnam) I worked at a very popular and very successful restaurant in Townsville “Pinochios” he says.

He moved back to Brisbane and managed the Sumo takeaway restaurant in the Queen Street Mall. When it opened, it was the only Japanese takeaway in Brisbane, so it was very successful and very busy. They also put together 10,000 meals a year to the schools around Brisbane teaching Japanese. Through these years Carey also worked for Clinique as a makeup artist, studied to be a beauty therapist for 12 months and had his own beauty therapy business at home called “The Men’s Room”.

He has 20 years as an Amway distributor mainly dealing in cosmetics, and was teaching through line distributors how to use the cosmetics and skin care range they sold.  As if all of this was not enough, he then secured a job in a major bank looking after reception and the board rooms, eventually moving up to business banking as a cashier, and then loan documentation. ” It took me 15 years to leave there to follow my passion for entertaining and gardening” he says. Carey was also the QLD distributor for Bloom Master Hanging Baskets and is very pleased to now be selling these in Carey’s Garden through the Carey’s Table Site. He has also sold cheese at markets and been an Uber driver whilst developing Carey’s Table – it is hard to believe someone has packed so much into one life! A remarkable story indeed, with lots to come you can be sure.

Carey’s Table

Carey is very excited to finally be starting Carey’s Table – bringing together his love for the handmade, food, and the art of great table setting. “Entertaining is my hobby and I would rather cook for 20 than myself” he says. Carey learned to sew from a wonderful woman called Linda Mahoney, at Urban Sewing in East Brisbane and is very pleased with the first range he has created. “Many people ask why am I doing it myself” he says. There are lots of reasons. “I really like the thought of my tableware being made here in Queensland with beautiful linens and cottons from Japan and China.

No doubt at some stage I will need to get help to keep up the stock, but I will still be sewing the product as well. I am loving sewing. Who would have thought!” he laughs. With this newfound passion, he will always continue to be the designer and maker of his Tableware. “No doubt the range will increase and diversify to other items as the business develops” he says. Carey is a great believer in Australian made and of course being a Queenslander – Queensland made! He will be introducing YouTube Videos/Tutorials later in the year to share his great knowledge of home entertaining and gardening.

Carey’s Entertaining Tips

Carey has worked in a lot of fine dining restaurants, but really finds all of that too stuffy. “I like to mix and match my tablewares and don’t follow any formal rules. “If someone wants to pick something up with their hands I have no problem with that (depending on what it is of course!)” he says. This day and age you need to be able to relax with your guests. Most homes have all the living areas together and kitchen is usually in the middle of it all. That is a very Australian thing. When you have to entertain, cook and present all by yourself, there is not much point being stuck in the kitchen. You have to organise yourself so that everything is ready to go, and spend the shortest time away from your guests. There is a lot of preparation you can do before your guests arrive.

  1. Even if you have friends staying or in a family situation, there really is no reason why you can’t have a nice table to eat at.
  2. I have BUKA mats from Bougainville Island that I got over 40 years ago when I worked there. I also have beautiful handwoven BUKA trays and bags. I would like to be able to sell similar things like these in the future as I loved being in the islands and it would be very helpful to these wonderful people. These mats I bring out on the dining table (the one in all the present photos) knife and fork, napkin (very rarely use paper), glass  – and that is it – couldn’t be easier.
  3. I do believe a family should sit down for dinner and converse with each other. Very difficult I know with these tech days, but very important.
  4. Have a clean clear space to work with (whether you are sitting at a kitchen bench on stools or at a table).
  5. If you are entertaining make sure your table is set at least an hour before your guests arrive and even earlier if you have time.
  6. Whether its entertaining friends or just your own family at night, I would always have some centrepiece. Maybe a small pot plant, single flower, orchid in a pot, or a bowl of flowers. Pot plants and flowering plants like orchids last for much longer than cut flowers.
  7. With a busy family this is not so necessary, but I like to make sure that each table setting mirrors the other side of the table – even though it’s in reverse. For example, placemats are in line with each other across the table.
  8. I would always use a placemat or tablecloth (use a table protector under the tablecloth if it is a table that would mark or an antique table).
  9. Children need to be encouraged to set the table as part of their education, as it’s very important for them once they start to work . They may have to take guests out for lunch, dinner or boardroom lunches. These things are noticed in the corporate world.
  10. I do like to serve water when entertaining as well as wine (if people drink). Health conscious people will tell you that water dilutes the enzymes etc etc etc and this might be true but I still serve water.
  11. With napkins I do like a simple fold or I may put it through a napkin ring. I have shells and crystal rings. These little touches add to the look of the table. (Wouldn’t do any of that if its just a family dinner but just put a neatly folded napkin on the place setting).
  12. It really depends on what sort of person you are and you artistic abilities. Entertaining is my hobby but don’t get a lot of time for it these days, however that will change again in the future. I love to set the table and cook, so I go out of my way to create something which has eye appeal.
  13. I love op shops and have so many recycled things in my house that I adore which could be used on your table. At present I am looking for glass bowls for my candle making which I plan to start soon. If I mastered sewing, candle making can’t be rocket science! And I have friends who have a candle making equipment import business so I should have lots of help with that. Such interesting pieces in the op shops that you can use to decorate your home. You just have to use your imagination.

I just adore Carey and all of his stories and can not wait to see what he creates with his new business. You can check out Carey’s Table here and keep up with his new offerings.

Helen

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