Our book recommendation for cooking aficionados: WOOD FOOD – cooking with wood, fire, smoke, tar and coal.
We have met author and founder Valentin Diem for a look behind the scenes
Bauwerk Parquet: What is WOOD FOOD all about?
Valentin Diem: This cook book is much more than a collection of recipes. It explains the potential of wood in all its manifestations. Model recipes convey a contemporary approach to the use of wood in the kitchen. ‘Cooking with wood’ goes far beyond barbecuing. Wood can be used as a spice or as a source for other substances.
Bauwerk Parquet: How did you become so passionate about wood? What is your fascination with the material?
Valentin Diem: Wood is a sensuous, warm and natural material that I have always found fascinating. I love its local exoticism – wood is a material that is present and versatile. For me, it also brings back childhood memories. I have a very positive association with wood. It gives me a lovely, cosy feeling all through. At the same time, wood is enchanted and romantic. It is far removed from the modern world. Wood satisfies a longing for sensuality in a world of concrete, glass and plastic. It smells good, it feels good to touch. In our digitalised world, wood is tactile and unique, the perfect reflection of a multi-sensory experience.
Bauwerk Parquet: Our healthy-living products contribute to a higher quality of life. What role does health play in your recipes?
Valentin Diem: Primarily, food should be wholesome. Physical well-being is closely related to what we eat. A good meal should not make us lethargic, it should give us energy.
Bauwerk Parquet: What is important for you when you cook with wood?
Valentin Diem: Similar to vegetables, the wood should have grown naturally and I need to know where it was produced. I make sure that the wood is untreated and walk through the forest with the forest warden to choose the right tree. It’s amazing that even prehistoric man used fire to cook. There is a tug of war between the archaic and technical precision. Trees are familiar objects but using them for cooking is quite an unfamiliar approach.
Fotos: Lukas Lienhard
Bauwerk Parquet: What role does nature play for you?
Valentin Diem: Nature provides the ingredients and gives us a tangible experience. Food is something natural and we associate many flavours with ‘being outside’. This is an exciting premise for cooking,
Bauwerk Parquet: Which is your personal favourite among the recipes in the book?
Valentin Diem: I like the Swiss pine soup.
Bauwerk Parquet: You grew up in Engadine. What memories do you associate with the region?
Valentin Diem: There was always a scent of Swiss pine wood. It’s the ultimate Engadine wood which is being used everywhere. One can still smell it years later and the scent continues to affect me even today.
Bauwerk Parquet: There is the legendary Pop Up Restaurant. When and where will the next Pop Up Restaurant take place?
Valentin Diem: From 20 June to 15 July. I can already tell you that fire will be at the heart of the event. And that the event will take place outside.
A treat for our readers: We are giving away two WOOD FOOD cook books. Just write an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and answer the following question: Which wood represents the ‘scent of the Engadine’? Good luck to you all!