Describe yourself as a dish.
Oooh this is a tricky one to get started on! I would have to say something simple like a bowl of pasta with a rich homemade tomato and chilli sauce. Probably a pasta shape that is tricky to roll like strozzapreti and the sauce would have something like anchovies and chilli for a little salty/hot kick. I guess what I'm trying to convey is that I'm simple yet complex at the same time! Sounds like most people right?
You won The Great Australian Bake Off in 2015. What has been the most rewarding part of claiming that title?
Bake Off was such a rewarding experience in so many ways. I think going on a journey like that and proving to yourself that you're capable of anything you set your mind to is so empowering and absolutely priceless. The second I was on the Bake Off set cooking everyday I became aware that it was what I was supposed to do with my life, so I was given a lot of clarity. I think life becomes a lot more simple when you are on your path and you have found your purpose.
You've been pretty open about your enjoyment of cooking savoury dishes more so than sweet. What is it that you love most about cooking on the savoury side?
I think cooking has my heart as it's this beautiful balance between understanding structure and discipline and just surrendering and going with the flow. Cooking has guide lines however there is also a freedom to be spontaneous and creative, adding in a little of whatever may take your fancy. Almost a metaphor for life really! I also don't possess a sweet tooth. I was born with a bread, salt, butter and cheese tooth, so making something savoury also satisfies my cravings.
What’s your opinion on avocado brownies?
Depends who's making them because word has it that yours aren't great, haha! But in all honesty, a brownie is no place for an avocado. If you're going to eat a brownie please ensure it's made of excessive amounts of chocolate and butter, preferably warm and topped with ice-cream. Clearly I'm the all or nothing type.
Word on the street it that you have a little book project in the making. Can you tell us anymore about what's to come?
Word on the street is correct. I was finally mad enough to write a cookbook, which has been a dream of mine for some time. Put simply the book will showcase seasonal produce and hopefully inspire people to cook through colour, texture and tone. Georges Antoni, one the most creative and incredible souls I have met, who also happens to be a genius with a camera (and a great cook), is shooting all of the imagery. The book has organically become this great project to connect with friends, share a meal and ideas and fulfil a lot of artistic dreams, I'm so grateful! Release is aimed for September next year, so get your stovetops and appetites ready!
If you could cook a meal for anyone who would it be and what would you cook them?
There are so many people in the world (dead and alive!) I would be so honoured to meet who have impacted my life, from Oprah Winfrey to Picasso to David Bowie. But my favourite person to share a meal with and cook for is my mum. Since I moved from Perth to Sydney I don't get to see her a great deal and it's very hard for me. So dinner with mum, sharing a bowl of homemade gnocchi, her favourite, would have to be my dream.
Food like fashion comes in and out of style but what food trend do you think will stand the test of time?
I think seasonal, sustainable and locally grown food will become the next big thing, not only out of trend but also necessity. As consumers I think it's so important that we take time to discover where out food was grown, the way it was farmed and what's going into our bodies and its impact on our planet. Conscious eating can benefit so many areas, from our health to our farmers, so I truly hope there is momentum building in that area.
Top 5 restaurants in Sydney. GO!
1. 10 William Street (I go alone and eat the pretzel with their amazing whipped bottarga and a glass of orange wine.)
2. Society Pizzeria (best pizza in Sydney!)
4. St Peter
5, Hubert (I love the vibe! Feels like a night out in Paris.)
Other than a knock out, best selling cook book, where would you like to see yourself in the next 5 years?
I think my greatest goal is to find a way to reach and inspire people to eat well and to enjoy the art of cooking. Food is not about perfection, I think it's actually far from it. For me, cooking encompasses self care, creativity, the act of sharing and love as well as pure enjoyment. So I hope to be cooking, creating and sharing with an audience who loves to eat as much as I do and cares about the origin and quality of their food, in whichever format that takes shape (hopefully in a series and through another book!).
If you could go anywhere in the world, at anytime of the year and eat anything you wanted. Where, when and what would it be?
I would be off to Tuscany in the spring, to eat Pici (a thick hand rolled spaghetti) with cacio e pepe. Washed down with a beautiful bottle of red and concluded with a big piece of ricotta crostata or cannoli. Right I'm off, need to book flights, Tuscany is calling!
Something your fans may not know about you is your equally great passion for music. Why does music have your heart and how does it tie in with your love of food?
Music for me is so powerful and evoking. I can be in any state of thinking or feeling and listen to a great song and just be so encapsulated by it. I grew up with parents who are really into music and played instruments at school. My biggest passion is deep house and hip hop and I love listening to it while I’m cooking. I think music is so alike to food, it has the ability to transport you to another place and nourish you.
Food Vs Fashion Quick Fire Round
1. Online shopping or Online ordering?
To be honest I'm not much of a online kind of gal, technology and I haven't really bonded. I really love to dine in restaurants and I love to shop in store so I can try things on. But in this case online shopping wins, I'm a sucker for a sale on Farfetch or Net-a-Porter.
2. The Orient Express or Sushi Train?
Sushi train hands down. What's better than a conveyor belt of food?!
3. Gucci or Gnocchi?
You have gone for my weaknesses here and stumped me! Gucci is just so creative in their art direction, styling and photography. They are a true source of inspiration to me, I especially love their creations for the met Gala every year. And then gnocchi, pillowy soft and even more delicious when it's pan fried. Might have to be a tie on this one P!
4. Catwalk or Pub Crawl?
Pub crawl takes the cake on this one. Must be my English blood but I adore old pubs and equally adore Guinness.
5. Peach Colour or Peach Flavour?
Stone fruit season is one of the most bountiful and beautiful times in my opinion. I love baked peaches with amaretto or a delicious frangipane tart with peaches and mascarpone. No to peach colour, it washes me out!
6. Celebrity Model or Celebrity Chef?
Celebrity Chef all the way, although I'm a little obsessed with 90's supermodels like Cindy Crawford. They are my beauty icons!
7. Chanel or Champagne?
Chanel wins this one. Coco was such a strong willed and resilient woman who I think has inspired so many young girls. And who can say no to a perfectly tailored suit?
8. Blow Dry or Dry Martini?
I'm sadly really slack when it comes to my hair. I just jump out of the shower, brush it and hope for the best. So a blowdry is always very welcome (people usually say "wow you look so different, what have you done (sigh)", however martinis are close to my heart and just so happen to be one of my favourite drinks.
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Sian portraits taken by photographer Georges Antoni