Name: Andie Pilot
Grew up in: Calgary, Canada
Author of: Helvetic Kitchen
My ties to Switzerland are through my mother. She left Switzerland in the late 1960’s and met my father in Canada. They married and she stayed there for almost 50 years.
As a child I came to Switzerland often. My grandparents lived in Walenstadt, which is at the far east end of the Walensee, a lake in Eastern Switzerland. They lived quite close to the lake, and we were there pretty much every single day. All of my memories involve swimming at the lake and eating roast cervelas and having ice cream from the Kiosk.
I didn’t cook a whole lot when I was growing up. It was more when I got a bit older, when I went to university. I lived with roommates, and we cooked and baked together all the time. And from there I decided what I really wanted was to be a pastry chef, so I went to school for two years.
What I like about cooking and baking is that it’s something that almost everybody in the world does. So you can usually find a starting point with anyone by talking about food.
In 2010 I came to live in Switzerland. My Canadian friends kept asking me for my fondue recipe or my Mom’s Christmas cookie recipe, and I thought, if I stick them online, then they’d all have access. So in 2015 I started a blog named Helvetic Kitchen.
I couldn’t believe all the interesting Swiss foods and recipes that I found. The different varieties of cheeses, or the different kinds of wine that are found only in Switzerland. And I love how the Swiss often have this great mix of things that are really cheesy and savory and then they throw in applesauce or pears or raisins. There were just so many great recipes and I thought, “Everybody has to make more Swiss food!”
I pitched the idea for a cookbook to Bergli. I had already done a lot of the research for my blog posts, so it went really fast. It was just about refining the recipes and checking in with lots of different Swiss people and making sure that what I was saying was accurate.
I think many of the recipes that may seem overwhelming to people are actually really easy. Rösti has three ingredients: you have potatoes, you have butter, you have salt. All the recipes in the book are simple recipes, and I’ve tried to lay out the simplest way to make them.
Helvetic Kitchen is aimed at people who are new to Switzerland but want to make Swiss food, or people who are interested in Swiss food but maybe don’t live here. But even if you’re Swiss you can enjoy the book – as long as you can read English!