WHAT did Cezanne do with all those apples? Make an apple tart? Why was red mullet so fascinating to Matisse? Were fish bones and absinthe more than just props to Picasso? Did Andy Warhol use the contents of those soup cans in a casserole? The way artists use food as inspiration is fascinating. So, when the wild, crazy shapes and outlandish colours of potter Carolyn Cheng crossed my path years ago, I immediately thought of Mexico - and its food. It conjured up the markets, the textures of its cuisine with contrasting tastes, the waxy surfaces and brilliant colours of chillies, the whimsical, decorative pinatas or a terrific combination plate. Colour, texture and food go together, says Ms Cheng, a pottery teacher at the Fringe Pottery Workshop. 'I even have my favourite bowl for salsa and I always add colourful ingredients to give food a visual appeal,' she said. Do artists with an eye for shapes, form and texture have an edge in the kitchen? Do potters' strong hands knead dough better than a solicitor or an accountant? 'When I make bread, I use a bread machine,' says potter Queenie Leung. But food is a source of inspiration when she creates a rice bowl, a vessel for soup or a platter. 'When I did one green bowl, I knew exactly what was going in it,' she said. 'Vanilla ice-cream.' When it comes to forms, Joyce Kwong says her favourite is the teapot. 'I love to make them. And always know which friend I want to share it with,' said the retired nurse. 'I treat each as art and use them for certain people.' Her annual output is around 40 pots, which she gives to friends. For just acquaintances, she uses her commercially-made teapot and cups. Ms Leung has been throwing pots, mugs, bowls, and plates for more than 10 years. She estimates with her current inventory of homemade wares, she could easily throw a dinner party for 30 without having to borrow any pieces. Creating homemade pots, plates and casseroles for the table can pose a safety hazard. Some glazes are poisonous. You can admire them, but serving food or cooking in them is unsafe. All artists use lead-free materials. But the trade-off is aesthetic. 'Poisonous glazes are more beautiful,' said Ms Cheng. 'The colours are sharper and brighter.' They agree that most tableware in Hong Kong restaurants is boring. Only the Japanese, they agree, appreciate good design and detail in pottery. 'The Chinese do not appreciate pottery,' said Ms Leung. It was a skill lost in the Cultural Revolution. For those who do appreciate their skills, the Pottery Workshop hosts its annual Christmas display and sale this Saturday. Over 10 artists will show one-of-a-kind work. Shoppers in need of mugs, bowls, platters, teapots and whimsical accessories will get a few ideas for gifts: and maybe a recipe. Prices range from $75 to $5,000. Open noon to 6pm. LIFT a fork and save your heart? The Hong Kong Adventist Hospital and Heart Centre invite the public to a dinner and lecture on Sunday by Dr Mervyn Hardinge, a respected health educator from the United States. He will speak on Diet and Heart Disease: Research and Experience while chefs at the Island Shangri-La Hotel whip up a meal that will be delicious and low in fat. Cost is $850; or $450 (lecture only). For more information phone 2835-0578. THERE are several promotions on at the moment. Compare caviar from Russia and Iran at Capriccio, Hong Kong Renaissance Hotel, throughout December. The Russian menu is $680; and the Iranian, $880. Michelin wunderkind chef Heinz Winkler. At Toscana in the Ritz-Carlton. Until Saturday. Risotto as king. Chef Sergio Carboni from Cremona, Italy, presents the cuisine of Lombardy at Va Bene until December 4. The cuisine of Venice goes beyond polenta and risi e bisi (rice and pea soup). At Il Mercato. Until December 3. SOPEXA, the food and beverage marketing arm of the French Government, sponsors a tasting of Bordeaux wines by 15 wine distributors on Saturday, from 1pm to 7pm in the Crystal Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Golden Mile. Cost is $50, redeemable on wine purchase. Stellenbosch winery from South Africa presents a tasting and dinner tomorrow with winemaker Wouter Pienaar. Cost $385. For reservations contact Rob Temple at 2309-8310.