FOOD WOOD - Anthony Nelson
Anthony's work highlights the links between trees, humans, the local environment, the global climate, food, consumption, community, always investigating how everything is connected. He is a designer, a builder, a permie, a forester, a fruit tree manager.... a remaker, furniture maker, timber craftsman, miniature model maker, foodie, food gardener, guerrilla gardener, beekeeper, fermenter, unorganised brewer, part-time music maker, and a very good person to talk to around a fire.
Many years ago now.. well, about 5.... I came across a post on Instagram - a picture of an extraordinary wooden rice paddle, which I thought would make a wonderful gift for Roger. I bought it, stayed for a chat and a look and brought the family back the week after for them to see the amazing world of Anthony. Later he came to our garden, cut some branches and then turned them into kraut pounders - labelled with which tree they were from - a single branch; one from the lemon, one from the quince, etc which is all the more important now because we no longer live in that house.
Roger loved the rice paddle, however, not to be corny - but making friends with Anthony was the real gift. Since then Anthony will listen to my descriptions of things I wish were available for us all - things that perhaps used to be more commonplace - a handmade, carefully designed kitchen, brewing, incubating or fermenting tool for example. And then he goes off to design something out of something else completely. I apologized recently for my latest wish and idea - and he said that the Blacksmith, for example, didn't work on the field - and was there to solve the problems as they presented. And that's what he does.
See the photo above - Anthony not only repaired our 'hammer' (the Usu) for pounding the mochi for our event on Japanese ferments Hakkō but made us an entirely new one. And then fixed the bowl (the Kine). He designed Koji trays of differeing sizes and then went ahead to make us an incubator complete with humidifier and heat mat - and lovely cedar shelving.
He is a wealth of knowledge on wood which feels rare in everyday life now. We proudly sell the Koji trays that are now in the homes of many celebrated foodies in Australia and the US. The tofu press, the kraut bashers, the Spurtles and other lovely creations are all there too. (Did I mention he has made a miniature town?) Ant takes commissions but also regularly makes includes chopping boards, cheese boards, cocktail muddles, rice paddles, wok tools/pasta tools, mortar and pestles, and more.
His line - which we have in our store under - FOOD WOOD - is always designed and produced to be loved for lifetimes. Some of these such as kraut smashers are made from collected branches, prunings and green waste, in particular fruitwoods and other rare species. Each of these pieces is labelled with the species and post code from where they were found, linking the pieces and the local trees.
In Anthony's own words "Things we use very often, we touch them, we cut and consume food from them, they become part of our kitchen biome. Timber, in comparison to other materials, is generally antibacterial, often can be repaired, nice to hold, nice to use. Aiming to make kitchen heirlooms, life long kitchen friends. Giving non-plastic options. Making use of unique and valuble timber and resources. Using and reusing local materials. Highlighting handmade and reused items.".
We just feel so lucky that a rice paddle sent me to meet Anthony and be able to collaborate like we have.