Enhancing culinary art

Sarah and Lucy Pepworth were born into pottery, and their kitchen cupboards have been full of hand-painted mismatched creations since the 1990s.

“Dad has always been in the industry so growing up we spent countless afternoons and weekends in the studio ‘helping’, and our family holidays generally involved road trips to visit potters and galleries all over the country,” Lucy said. The two sisters have now launched The Alchemists Table, providing rustic designer tableware to some of Auckland’s top restaurants.

The Alchemist’s Table taps into a worldwide movement away from sleek white plates to authentic and rustic tableware, which gives chefs the opportunity to select pieces which best complement their culinary art. “The whole restaurant experience is enhanced when chefs can select specific shapes and colours for the presentation of special menu items,” Lucy said.

The Alchemist’s Table currently has two ranges – Elemental and Khemia. Elemental is a minimalist set of simple round shapes inspired by hand thrown-pottery, while Khemia is an asymmetrical set with slightly wobbly edges. As each piece is finished by hand, no two pieces will be identical

“There are over 150 years of combined pottery experience behind the creation of our ware,” Lucy explained. The original designs are often handmade by collaborators Bruce Walford and Peter Collis. Production is a mostly handmade process using simple machinery and skilled crafters in the Palmerston North studio.  This process ensures strength and consistency. Each piece will pass through many pairs of skilled hands as it morphs into the final crafted product. All are designed to withstand the demands of the hospitality world. Clays are formulated and blended for the specific requirements of hospitality. Plates, bowls and platters are produced under high pressure to enhance toughness and density. The characterful glazes are designed to increase the intrinsic strength of the clay body while retaining their vital personality.

The Alchemist’s Table products can already be found in some of Auckland’s top restaurants, such as The Sugar Club, Prego, Gusto at the Grand and The Sebel Hotel.