Small bites: Alchemy tearoom focuses on Chinese medicine

COME ONE, COME ALL: Emmy Bethel, left, and Ashley Kuper want Chinese medicine to be more accessible to members of the community, so they're organizing their group practice in a café setting that's open to the public. In addition to food, drinks and herbal products based on the discipline, they'll host talks, classes and other events like free qi gong.
COME ONE, COME ALL: Emmy Bethel, left, and Ashley Kuper want Chinese medicine to be more accessible to members of the community, so they're organizing their group practice in a café setting that's open to the public. In addition to food, drinks and herbal products based on the discipline, they'll host talks, classes and other events like free qi gong. Photos by Sarahjane Case

With a master’s degree each in Chinese medicine from Asheville’s Daoist Traditions College, business partners Emmy Bethel and Ashley Kuper are setting out to create a community resource that demystifies their chosen modality, making its multifaceted teachings more user-friendly. Alchemy — the duo’s group practice, which hinges around an on-site tearoom and apothecary — is open now in North Asheville.

“Chinese medicine is so much more than acupuncture. People don’t realize that it’s herbal medicine, it’s dietary therapy, it’s nutritional counseling, it’s oil therapy,” says Bethel. And healing can also involve simply bonding with a friend over tea, she adds. “That’s how we decided to use the tearoom as that bridge or intermediary between the world of medicine and the world of regular life.”

By keeping the café open for walk-in customers throughout the week, the two hope to get alternative wellness off folks’ permanent to-do lists — even appealing to those who aren’t interested in the medicinal value of their afternoon pick-me-up. Guests can test the waters with Earl Grey or green tea before working up to rarer beverages like congee, turmeric-based golden milk, faux coffee made from roots or Alchemy’s seasonal classical Chinese tea blends. And since nutrition is a key component of treatment, a homemade food menu will showcase recipes suggested by the clinic’s practitioners.

“The bone broth is one of the things that we’ll be offering, which we prescribe a lot as part of our treatment,” Kuper says. The beef-based brew is simmered for 24 hours and will be made in-house — initially under the guidance of bone supplier Intentional Swine — and available to-stay or to-go, including in frozen portions.

“It’s going to be good for anyone,” Bethel says, calling it a booster of vital resources that get lost in the daily buzz. “But if you were a patient here, we could prescribe you edible herbs and then you go home and cook the herbs in the bone broth.” With a chuckle, she likens this to Build-A-Bear Workshop’s herbal equivalent.

The business women note a commitment to sourcing ingredients as organically and locally as possible, which currently involves buying herbs from a consortium in southern Virginia. Some are prescribed in raw form, though much is further processed for sale in the tincture-heavy apothecary. When making derivative products like teas and broths and “pulling out the constituents that are deep within the plant or bone, you really have to use the highest quality possible,” Bethel adds. “Otherwise, you’re taking the bad with the good.”

Alchemy is at 62 Clayton St. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Visit alchemyasheville.com for more information. 

The Community Table’s Empty Bowl fundraiser

Empty bowl-themed fundraisers are a popular means of underscoring the issue of hunger while raising money to eradicate it. One such event — organized by The Community Table of Sylva — will harness the handiwork of local potters, who have donated their ceramic wares to the cause. After attendees select a vessel, they can fill it with soup and bread and take it home as a keepsake. Dessert will be provided, along with draft root beer from sponsor Heinzelmännchen Brewery. Live music and a raffle round out the entertainment, and proceeds will help The Community Table “provide nutritious meals to our neighbors in need in a welcoming environment.”

The Empty Bowl event is 4-8 p.m. Friday, April 22, at The Community Table, 23 Central St., Sylva. Tickets are $20 at the door. Visit communitytable.org or call 586-6782 for more details. 

Vegan cheese and wine pairing

Chef Rhabb Seymour of Udderly Not Cheese is presenting three of his plant-based cheese alternatives alongside drinks from Table Wine of South Asheville. His hand-crafted menu includes mozzarella di Tuscano with sun-dried tomatoes, dried sweet basil, sautéed garlic and red pepper flakes; chèvre with rosemary and balsamic swirl; and aged spicy cheddar cheese. A portion of ticket sales benefits the Blue Ridge Humane Society.

The tasting is 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at Edible Musings, 109 Galloway Drive. Tickets are $30. Visit avl.mx/2h9 to reserve a spot. 

Mojo Kitchen & Lounge spotlights Foothills Brewery

Chef A.J. Gregson‘s upcoming beer dinner features five courses plus beers from Foothills Brewery. After the hors d’oeuvres, he’ll serve ornate dishes like green tomato and citrus crab salad with soft goat cheese, tender greens, red onion marmalade and dehydrated jalapeno with charred lemon and mustard vinaigrette; grilled Sunburst Farms trout and mascarpone creamed farro with king oyster mushrooms, nettles, crispy onion petals, roasted garlic cream and tomato chutney; and for dessert, goat milk panna cotta and strawberries.

The dinner is at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Mojo Kitchen & Lounge, 55 College St. Tickets are $45 plus tax and gratuity. Accommodations can be made for vegans, vegetarians and non-beer-drinkers. Call 255-7767 or email mojotacolounge@gmail.com to make a reservation.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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