Alcott & Gibbons
After tasting the world’s highest grade Tellicherry Black Pepper during a trip to Kerala we realised that much of the pepper we’d been used to eating in the UK was bland and often poor quality. A subsequent visit to a small organic pepper plantation in the Western Ghats proved how little we knew about something that we used almost every day back home. Everything from how it grows on the vine to the timing of the harvest and how it is dried and graded has an effect on the quality of the peppercorns that we eat.
We returned home enthused, on a mission to learn more. Further inspired after discovering Long Pepper and Cubeb, both from the same family as Black Pepper but virtually forgotten by western cuisine, we were spurred on to start Peppermongers – a small, independent Pepper specialists with a big ambition: to bring you the best quality Peppercorns from around the world.
Our (pepper) potted history
Summer 1974. It’s hot. There’s a Rumble in the Jungle, Ceefax is invented, Tom Alcott from no.46 and Pete Gibbons from no.45 meet to watch The Muppets. Their friendship grew and continues to grow to this day, despite a low point in ‘76 when Pete pulled the leg off Tom’s toy Kermit. Contrary to popular belief, Tom is not descended from an ape and Pete is not descended from a Gibbon, though he does look like one.
We went to Eastfield Primary, Westfield Junior, St.Ivo comprehensive. We made mash in home economics and were force-fed crispy pancakes for lunch. Aged 14 we set up a picture framing business in Tom’s family garage. Mouldings, mounts, mortar saws and glass were our thing. And plasters. At school we sold printed T-shirts but not very many, and then ran the tuckshop – breaking new ground with the popular introduction of toast (at 95% gross profit).
Husbands and Fathers
Tom moved to Scotland, joined Outward Bound to climb and mostly slept outside. Pete moved to London, joined a design agency and mostly slept inside. We grew up, slightly. Pete married Heather and together they produced Jack and Eliza, Tom married Katie who bore him Amelia, Reuben and Elodie. All the children are good at filling pepper mills.
In 2005, together with Tom’s wife Katie, we created FRANK Water, the successful, game-changing water charity. We bulldozed our way into the crazy bottled water industry, took the profits and gave them away to build village-run clean water projects in India, winning awards along the way. 100 clean water projects and many visits to India later, the idea of Peppermongers was conceived and, with a gestation period longer than one and a half elephants, a new company was born in 2011.
We are not chefs, just self-taught amateur cooks. We cook because we love food markets, love great food, love to eat and even love to wash up. Sunday lunch is our favourite meal. Christmas is our least favourite; too much pressure, too much of everything.
Tom is half Breton (see picture evidence below, centre, avec les oignons). Family meals in Brittany meant breakfasts that segued into lunches that sequed into dinners. Sleep was just a means to build up an appetite for the next day’s meal marathon.
Pete is 1/8 Irish, has 4 siblings, 26 uncles and aunts, is related to 17thcentury spice traders and a long line of bearded, stamp collecting, wood carvers (possibly).
Pepper is our calling. We beseech you to join us on our journey to make life less bland, more palatable and a lot tastier…