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Behind the Book with Robert Wood

Published 21st August, 2017 in Behind the Book

Margaret River Press just signed a contract to work with Paul Iskov for a book of recipes and stories about his dining experience Fervor. We interviewed Robert Wood to talk about the book and his role in compiling the stories.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book? 

The book with Fervor is a book of recipes and stories that features local ingredients from all over Australia. Paul and the team at Fervor work really hard to give us food that is vibrant, fresh and unique. They offer pop up dining experiences so that means we will be showing you all kinds of country, people and food. It really is different and exciting. For me, it is a passion project where I get to share something I care about in a field that is similar to what I normally do but not the same. It really is exciting to be working on it.

I know Fervor has its base in the Margaret River region, but it puts on events in many places. What are some of the locations that will feature in the book?

Paul and the team at Fervor are on the road a lot. That is part of what makes them special. Over the course of working on this book, we will go to Kakadu, the Goldfields, the Great Southern, and Paul has events in the Kimberley and Pilbara. We are all over the state and then beyond. It showcases how different the terroir of Australia is, the diversity of ecosystems and ingredients that we have right here. Paul has an amazing track record as a chef and has worked all over the world but it is nice that he has returned to make food that speaks to our sense of place and the beauty we have on our doorstep.

What dish are you most excited about?

From where I stand, Paul’s damper is what potato is for Ben Shewry, what olive is for Ferran Adria. Now, if you can reinvent bread to reflect who we are as a people, I think you do something for the benefit of the world not just yourself and what you think is yummy. That might sound like an over-reach but at the end of the day, we are working in country with the oldest civilisations in the world, we are working on sacred ground and we are doing that in the shadows of a type of colonisation that continues to have ramifications today. This means seeing Fervor for what it is, which is an action beyond food and towards a better society, one that acknowledges and works with traditional custodians. This is food not only as art but as politics, as healing spirit. It harmonises with other traditions and cultures. You can find Europe, Asia, America in this bread, no matter how diverse they are, and that means what is being made is truly remarkable. Eating this damper, means beginning to remind ourselves that life can be beautiful no matter if there is war or climate change or trauma. That bread can be a pleasure as a type of heaven on earth. And that is a good thing, that is good taste, and everyone should just get that into them.

What is your role in the book?

I am editing it and helping with the stories. One of the things I have in common with Paul is having worked overseas and with traditional owners, and those places are full of stories. I have family up in Roebourne too and that has opened my eyes to some of the amazing things that are possible right here, things that are genuinely world class. I think that we can make food and write stories that are as good as anywhere else. But for me, I love writing in general. This is a chance for me to extend my practice as a writer and to share in some of the amazing stories that Fervor inspires.  And, the other role I will relish in this book is being able to cook the recipes and eat delicious food. I actually can’t wait to get in the kitchen and learn from the recipes that Paul sends through. That is really exciting for me.

And finally, what will the look and feel of the book be?

That is still a work in progress, but we have Chris Gurney on photographs. He has experience with Margaret River Press before including the last food book we did – Beyond the Farm Gate. We want a clean look with a focus on food, nature and people. Together, Paul, Chris and I feel like that is the essence of what Fervor is about, and we just want the book to be a platform to show that off. We have to create space for Fervor to do what they do best. Its all about collaboration and I know we just have an absolute ripper of a book in the pipeline.

Photos by Chris Gurney

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