Local restaurateur Andrea Carlson’s exciting new cookbook, Burdock & Co: Poetic Recipes Inspired by Ocean, Land & Air is being released into the world on October 8th (preorder your copy here). We recently pinned down the veteran chef and first-time author to gain some rare personal insight into the writing process.
How did you decide which recipes to include in the cookbook? Please tell me a bit about the selection process. A large part of the process of the collection of recipes was directed by the enthusiastic supporters of Burdock & Co. Friends and colleagues who had very very strong opinions on favourite dishes through the years that MUST be included in the book. It was a fantastically fun process that conjured memories of events, places, ingredients and dishes all played out on multi coloured sticky notes and woven into an eclectic grouping of chapters more reflective of the natural world and its connection to my creation of food than a standard recipe book might offer.
Why is now the right time to share your recipes with the world by publishing a Burdock & Co. cookbook? After 6.5 years we are ready to share our journey.
I read an excerpt from your cookbook and your approach to writing strikes me as very personal and unconventional. Why did you decide to take a poetic and narrative style to recipe writing? The writing of the book was orchestrated by a friend, Clea McDougall, and her approach was to draw the stories out of me through many casual interviews and meetings. We spent a fair bit of time visiting her and her partner on their property in Naramata where we cooked, ate, drank and hung out. The organic process of sharing stories about my journey, experiences and motivations led to the unique narrative expression of the book.
You’re a self-confessed private person but you seem to put a lot of yourself into your cooking. What do you think that this book says about you as a person? I can’t help but to put a lot of myself into the cooking. It’s a process based not on doing things that people recognize but on creating dishes that are inspired by the products of moments. Drawing from food personal experiences and the love of eating. It says that I care deeply and passionately about the food and the people growing it. It is my expression of gratitude for a life in food that has been rich and joyous.
What did you learn about yourself during the process of writing this book? A rewarding aspect of the process was realizing that there is an interesting story about the journey I’ve taken through nature and food in this province. To collect some of the stories of that journey into one space and share them feels very vulnerable indeed. I’ve learned how shaped I have been my experiences in coastal BC and how deeply important all of the natural environments and all of the people who grow our food in a sustainable and nurturing way are are to me. Without these connections and what they have taught me and brought me life would not have been as rich.
What sort of impression do you hope to make on the people who purchase this book and recreate your recipes? I hope that people will take on the spirit of the book in that you can shift and adapt ingredients to your own environment, and consider looking at the unique possibilities available to you in your own habitat to create a dish.