Famed Buddhist Nun Inspires Tableware for Steinbeisser

Through its Experimental Gastronomy Initiative, Steinbeisser partnered with vegan chef and South Korean nun Jeong Kwan, and a group of international artists, to create a new collection of tableware.

By Rachel Gallaher

Images courtesy of Steinbeisser

Hand-carved wood cutlery by artist Patrizia Keller, made in celebration of Steinbeisser's upcoming dinner with Buddhist nun and chef Jeong Kwan.

In 2017 Korean Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan rose to international fame when she appeared on season three of Netflix’s wildly popular show Chef’s Table—both for her vegan temple dishes and her philosophical approach to food. And while we can’t all travel South Korea to experience Kwan’s transformative cooking, thanks to Steinbeisser—an Amsterdam-based organization founded by Jouw Wijnsma and Martin Kullik that brings together renowned chefs and artists for a one-of-a-kind culinary event—anyone can bring the spirit of the experience into their own kitchen with a newly launched set of artisanal tableware.

As part of Steinbeisser’s Experimental Gastronomy program, Wijnsma and Kullik are planning to host a culinary experience with Kwan in Amsterdam this September. To mark the occasion, they have started to release tableware ranging from chopsticks and hand-carved wood cutlery to brightly colored glassware in organic, nature-inspired forms. Available exclusively through Steinbeisser’s Jouw Store, the pieces, which will be released in batches leading up to the September dinners, are a collaboration between Kwan, the Steinbeisser team, and a group of international artists.

For her pieces, glassblower Fabienne Schneider dug a hole in the ground and blew the glass directly into the hole, allowing the soil to shape the hot glass into these amorphous shapes.

“After [watching] the Chef's Table episode featuring Jeong Kwan, we were immediately intrigued by her happy, kind, and peaceful approach to food,” says Kullik. “The main inspiration [for the tableware] comes from nature—telling the story of materials that come from earth and go back to earth.”

According to Kullik the few guidelines they set for the 23 artists and studios included using only natural materials that were locally sourced or foraged in the wild, or materials that were found, upcycled, or repurposed. The artists based in South Korea had the opportunity to visit Jeong Kwan at the Baegyangsa temple.

The first five pieces, released last week, are from artists Fabienne Schneider (a colorful series of alienesque blown-glass goblets inspired by soil), Jochen Holz (bulbous glass cups with a strong haptic qualities), Joo Hyung Park (her oversized sculptural chopsticks reflect her work as a jewelry maker), Lukas Cober (a collection of recycled-wood chopsticks that reflect the idea of a material’s life cycle through the earth), and Patrizia Keller (her carved wood cutlery plays with our expectations of utensils).

ABOVE LEFT: The burnt-wood chopsticks by craftsman and designer Lukas Cober are made from naturally fallen Oak and Acacia wood as well as black natural fired clay that share the same roughness. ABOVE RIGHT: Jeweler Joo Hyung Park 's designs were made with the idea of 'capturing the moment' at top of mind