WHEN you’re making out your shopping list for your summer barbecue, a piece of wood to cook it on probably wouldn’t be at the top of your list.

But a local family company – The Roasting Plank Company – is pioneering a new method of cooking that could transform the way you barbecue forever.

A new method to the UK anyway. Cooking on wooden planks is common in the USA, where native north Americans have been using the method for centuries.

Cornelius Veakins discovered how good this method of cooking was when he had an oak-smoked steak on a trip to the US at the beginning of last year.

A keen foodie, he returned to the home in Ringwood he shares with his wife, Sarah, and two children, raving about it.

His wife decided to buy him a roasting plank for his birthday but after searching for one the best she could find was an untreated piece of oak which Cornelius crafted into a cooking plank himself.

Friends began showing interest and Cornelius and Sarah realised they had a real business opportunity on their hands.

“I was working in software and I was unhappy. I worked in the Middle East a lot so I was away from my family,” says Cornelius.

Setting up the business has been a huge change of pace for him and Sarah, who had been a full-time mother. They launched the business nine months ago and it has been growing steadily ever since.

The Roasting Plank Company makes three different types of product, some of which carry the New Forest Marque and all of which are made with wood from within 50 miles of their Ringwood home.

The wood is all from Forestry Stewardship Council members and the finished products are made in Ringwood. The trees are not cut down to make the planks – they use what is classed as industry waste.

They make wood paper, barbecue planks and roasting planks in cedar, oak, beach and cherry.

Before use you soak the wood in a liquid of your choice – perhaps wine and herbs or whiskey. When you cook, the food is infused with these flavours as well as a delicious smokey taste from the wood. What’s more the moisture from the wood helps make it jucier.

The wood paper and barbecue planks are great ways to add a tasty twist to barbecue favourites. The papers are for single use and the plank can be used five to 15 times, while the roasting plank – for use in the oven – will last for years.

The retail prices are modest – £9.99 for ten sheets of wood paper or a barbecue plank and £39.99 for a roasting plank – and Cornelius warns foodies against buying wood from a DIY store and making their own planks.

“Most of the wood you get there is treated,” he says. “It would be very dangerous to cook with this.”

WIN in a roasting plank, barbecue plank and a set of wood paper - See today's Daily Echo