Whether it’s an Olive Garden down the street or a three-star Michelin restaurant halfway across the globe, the definition of a restaurant is a fairly predictable one: You go to some brick and mortar building to be served prepared food–either crafted from exotic ingredients acquired halfway across the globe, or trucked from a “local” farm 30 miles away.
The Buijtenkitchen, a conceptual project by Studio Elmo Vermijs, challenges the very idea of what a restaurant can be. It’s essentially a wood burning stove in a mobile hut, an elevated lifeguard-like station that surveys the area for hungry locals. But rather than importing food into the kitchen to be prepared, the Buijtenkitchen seeks out local harvests and plants itself on farms themselves by the most seasonal produce possible. So instead of serving up local/seasonal cuisine of a single region, it can seek out local seasonal cuisines of every region.
Pepijn Schmeink, a chef and wood burning* cooking expert of restaurant “de Eendracht” prepares the food.
“[Chef Schmeink] sees the Buijtenkeuken as an experimental place where the relation between city and farmland can be investigated,” explains technical designer Dirk Overduin. “The guests are entertained, educated and invited to take an active role in the cooking process, which stresses Elmo’s view on ‘recreation’. In all of his work the users are invited (sometimes forced) to participate in an action, therefore creating a social event rather than a show which can be consumed.”
I don’t know exactly how to classify the Buijenkitchen. It’s like a food truck or pop-up restaurant for environmentally conscious omnivores, something akin to the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile serving up the antithesis of hot dogs–a promotional, educational kitchen stopping in areas to highlight their greatest bounties in a cooking dialog.
Furthermore, it’s just a clever way to run a local, seasonal kitchen without being stuck in a rut during the off seasons. For many of us stuck in continental climate, regional produce tends to be a nice idea so long as you’ll sacrifice fruits and veggies during ⅔ of the year for heavy supplements of freshly slaughtered livestock. Buijtenkitchen can, at least in theory, chase the best harvests across all of Europe.
*Despite the wood burning stove and back-to-nature ideals, you can spot some newer technology inside Buijtenkitchen. Note a modernist chef favorite ISI sitting on the counter, used for everything from spraying whipped cream to instantly infused liquors.
[Hat tip: ArchDaily]