"The project was based predominantly on experimental work, which was later refined and distilled to accentuate Tom's culinary vision. Choosing the forms that displayed and held liquids especially aesthetically, contrasting ingredients against different clays and developing further those which were most striking. With some of the vessels, I felt the need to try something a bit offbeat, different to what would habitually be seen at the dinner table."
Head Potter & Lead Designer at DOR & TAN
When Tom Hunt, eco-chef, writer for the Guardian and author of “The Natural Chef” approached us to collaborate on a meal themed around the 5 Chinese elements, we were delighted. It was the perfect matching of minds with a vision for sustainability. Our head potter and lead designer Sharron set off in a flurry of creativity, eager to craft the most food harmonised handmade ceramic experience she possibly could.
Each course would represent a different element, Earth, Water, Fire, Metal, and Wood which was neatly paired with accompanying drinks by Our/London vodka. The five natural subjects were to be mirrored in the food, but each must also be reflected within the ceramic vessel or plate.
After the project lasting just 6 short weeks, Sharron had done it! 7 designs, 128 pieces, all hand thrown using her trusty kick wheel, clay clad hands, kiln fired to 1280ºC (multiple times) and then finally delivered to London.
Course: Melon, coconut butter, silver
To Drink: Iced Our/London vodka
To introduce the meal; melon, coconut butter and silver, served atop a two large Vulcan black serving plates, decorated with white slip sgraffito stripes and an opaque transparent glazed interior.
Course: Ajo blanco, plums
Ceramics: Tumblehome Small Bowls
This dish was a small portion of white soup which was to be drunk from the bowl. Ajo blanco, a recipe native to Spain, and sometimes called “white gazpacho”, is made from almonds, stale bread, and garlic. To complement its silky texture, a smooth white Cornish stoneware clay which was thrown and turned into a small gently rounded bowls; small enough to sit comfortably in the palm of the hand. The tactile exteriors were left as smooth light toned clay and the interiors finished with a natural white glaze. The glossy finish of the interior complimented the viscosity of the soup harmoniously.
Course: Oysters, black garlic, blackberry
Ceramics: Black Strata Plate
Creating a vessel which worked well with a black dish was maybe one of the hardest challenges Tom had presented. After a number of experiments, Sharron settled on making a Vulcan clay plate with a transparent glazed interior. The glaze created a watery opaque sheen in which the oyster could sit surrounded by the deeper tones of the charcoal water, black garlic and blackberries.
Course: Chlorophyll, Jerusalem artichoke, purple potato, cep, reindeer moss, girolle, coastal greens
To Drink: Tinte Natural Rose
This was a large dish with ingredients which looked akin to what you would view on a forest floor. After being served this dish would be submerged in a swampy green chlorophyll sauce poured gently from a matching carafe. The ceramic vessel was carefully designed and had to accommodate the food plus the sauce, but decidedly not compete with the bright array of ingredient colours. Sharron chose to create a large open bowl in a rough textured Cornish stoneware with a white matte dolomite glazed interior.
Course: Burnt strawberries, yoghurt, ash, bay leaf
To Drink: Vanilla water kefir, Our/London vodka
Ceramics: Temple and Small Black Tumbler
“The Temple was created for Fire, and naturally, as a potter, I thought of heat, kilns, lids, an object to be opened and behold what is nestled inside. When I showed Tom the form, he instantly asked for black clay and a red interior. This was to juxtapose with the white yogurt but also to further foster the effect of heat on red, burnt strawberries. To supplement the experience of sight and touch was the most sensuous part of the experience, singed bay leaves. These were placed inside resulting in an indulgence of fragrance and smokey visuals when the lid was opened.”
- Sharron Page Stocks
Course: Hokkaido squash, saffron ice cream, spelt and goji granola, meadowsweet
To Drink: Barley malt water Our/London vodka sour
Ceramics: Black Footed Bowl
This dish was vivid yellow in colour and Sharron found it difficult to find a combination of clay and glaze which sat well with it. After a lot of hard thinking, she chose a dish with a simple form, thrown in a fine white clay and then coated in a matte black glaze. This was to juxtapose the choppy textured appearance of the food and add a further depth to the dish. The black and yellow combination produced a dramatic ending to the meal allowing the food and ceramic to compliment each other without competing for attention.
“Being involved in this project, I’ve learned many of the aspects in which ceramics and food coexist. Ceramics are not just a stationary object, purely based in a still moment, they can be kinetic. Food is an act, and ceramics are the stage and context. When observed in this way, the possibilities become more intriguing to discover, and another lid is opened.“
- Sharron Page Stocks
Photographs by Viola Watkins & Tom Hunt