MENTION Swiss National Day to Florian Trento and he paints a nostalgic picture, flavoured with good things to eat. ''It is not a private or family affair, like other holidays,'' explains the executive chef of the Peninsula Hotel. The native of Canton Aargau recalls a vivid memory of one special day: an evening in Vitznau, high over Lake Luzern. ''The weather was fantastic, it was light until 9.45 pm and there were 250 people, mostly from the village,'' he said. ''The food was simple - a large salad buffet and a whole ox roasted on a spit over an open fire. The evening was an everlasting memory.'' One advantage of being a pastry chef is finishing work at 3 pm, ''just in time for the parade'', recounts Gerard Dubois, owner of La Rose Noire pastry shop in Pacific Place. Mr Dubios was born in Villars, were he completed his apprenticeship as a pastry chef, while squeezing in time for skiing, skating and an equally rigorous social life. ''My village is a popular ski resort in the winter. In the summer, it becomes a playground for other sports,'' he said. ''On August 1, we always had a huge parade. Everyone in the village participated. And the tourists joined in. ''It started at 3 pm. Since I finished at that time, I had no problem with work. ''After the parade, there was a sound and light show for two hours that re-told the history of Switzerland. ''Then the evening was spent drinking beer and dancing and going to parties. The whole village rock 'n rolled.'' Nourishment for dancers was nibbling snacks such as savoury cheese sticks and cornets, breads, cheeses and sausages. Mr Dubois recently added cheese sticks and cornets to his menu at La Rose Noire. A cornet is a crisp wafer cone, filled with sweet or savoury fillings. Mr Dubois fills them with a cheese-herb mixture or something sweet, like chocolate mousse. If the cornets are served as appetisers, he adds caraway or poppy seeds to the wafer batter. ''The Swiss Germans and Swiss French have their own versions of cheese sticks,'' he said, referring to the puff pastry dough, enriched with cheese, then shaped and twisted into long, thin sticks. ''I hadn't made them for years. Then, on a recent trip home, I ate some. They were so good, I decided to try them here.'' The national day celebration makes another Swiss-born chef reminisce. An avid outdoors man, Max Liechti recalled the snacks relied on by summer hikers and boaters. ''Rich, dark farmer breads with cheese and sausages,'' recalls the executive chef of the Chalet restaurant in the Royal Pacific Hotel. The native of Pfafikon ticks off a number of cow and goat milk cheeses. Most of the sausages were pork. ''You can eat cervelat sausage, hot or cold. But some, especially bratwurst, must be cooked. That's easy for hikers. You go to the stream, take some water and boil it over a campfire,'' Mr Liechti said. The hearty Swiss-style breads are made in the hotel. But he buys most sausages locally from specialty shops and imports the dry sausages and air-dried beef from Switzerland. Other additions to his hiking supplies are cheese and onion tartlets, some cornichons and pickled onions. As for beer? ''In Switzerland, there is the wide variety of regional beers, freshly brewed.'' His favourite? ''Switzer Feldschlosschen. Compared to German beers, it is very light.''