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sian redgrave

[INTERVIEW] Sian Redgrave


[INTERVIEW] Sian Redgrave

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)
3. Ester
4. St Peter
5, Hubert (I love the vibe! Feels like a night out in Paris.)

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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!


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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.

"NIGELLA who?"

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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.

Follow @sianredgrave for food inspiration, recipes and drool worthy images such as the ones pictures above.

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Follow me @model_appetite on Instagram to keep updated on my blog posts or subscribe below.

Sian portraits taken by photographer Georges Antoni

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When Lebanese and English combine it can only mean one thing (other than one damn cute baby)........a Middle Eastern High Tea Baby Shower. As well as the usual baby shower games, enjoying the "beautiful" weather (pregnancy and 33 degrees do not mix well) and of course catching up with my gorgeous girlfriends, this shower was all about the food. So when Sian very kindly offered to cater my shower, instead of the polite banter which us Brits are very accustomed to -
P: "Oh no, I couldn't ask you to do that."
S: "Please, it would be my pleasure."
P: "Are you sure? I don't want to put you out."
S: "Honestly, I would love to!"
Yes, yes, yes, was my very quick, very blunt, very non apologetic answer.

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My  favour boxes were filled with pink, blue and white sugared almonds which are a Middle Eastern tradition given at weddings, birthdays, christenings and baby showers. They symbolise health, wealth, happiness, fertility and a long life.  Not a bad thing to leave a party with. 

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I had always loved the idea of combining a classic English high tea with the exotic flavours of the Middle East. I didn't know for what occasion exactly but my baby shower seemed like the perfect excuse. When I pitched the idea to Sian her eyes lit up and I could see her cookery cogs turning as she wrote down the menu in less than 10 minutes. Cue three days straight of prepping, cooking and baking madness. 

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Now no high tea is complete or can even begin without perfectly cut, crustless finger sandwiches. With four fillings to choose from, salmon, cream cheese and watercress; good old cucumber sarnie with a crushed pistachio crust; smoked ham, cheddar and Branston pickle (a personal favourite of mine) and falafel with garlic sauce and micro herbs. Does it get any more English come Lebanese than that??

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SCONES!! All hail the scone. Whether you like em simply simple or filled with dried figs and a bit of spice, we gotcha covered. Jo's got the right idea!

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Sian pretty much made and baked everything. OK, not pretty much, she did. I helped by licking all the bowls clean which is really not all that helpful. So I thought maybe it would be a good idea to actually contribute some of my own cooking abilities. Pulling out one of my favourite cake books I made these truely epic earl grey and honey cupcakes from The Caker. I did however put my own little spin on them by adding a chocolate ganache topping (because pregnancy and chocolate mix very well). They were such a hit! So much so I will send the recipe to anyone who asks and I guarantee you will be everybody's new BFF. 

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Sadly I, nor Sian, can take credit for these beautiful baklavas. Yes we put them on a fancy plate and sprinkled them with rose petals but all kudos goes to Al Sultan Pastry in Rockdale. These really are the most amazing baklava and even though anywhere outside of the Eastern Suburbs seems like another planet I urge you to take the drive and to take an empty stomach with you. 

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This cake was a personal request by Georges (yes he was at my baby shower. Who do you think took all the lovely photos?!) We had the pleasure of first tasting it at Sian's birthday and decided that once was not enough. This is one of the best cakes I've ever had. Semolina, pistachio and rose water cake soaked in a lemon and rose water syrup finished with crushed pistachios and dried rose petals. In fact, it is so good that Georges, his mum, sister and I attempted to make it for Valentina's christening. And not to blow our own trumpet but we did a bloody good job.

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As this is a high tea, with the key word here being tea, we set up a tea station of English Breakfast (obviously), mint tea, earl grey and cinnamon, cardamon and ginger. Sian introduced me to this amazing prop hire place called Major and Tom  where  we hired a selection of beautiful, vintage teapots and mix and match cups and saucers. The perfect corner to wash down all the sugar!

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Ah, the piece de resistance. The mother of all baby shower cakes. The type of cake you want to smoosh your face in. Sian's masterpiece! I mean, she won Bake Off after all, it was bound to be bloody sensational. Sian has such a style when it comes to celebration cakes. Slightly imperfect, asymmetrical, rustic, homemade but the most beautiful thing you ever did see. For some serious food porn check out her instagram @sian_redgrave

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"READY to..........."

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Thank you to all these epic babes for making my baby shower the best I could have possibly imagined. Clearly we were having so much fun that little Valentina decided she wasn't going to miss out on all the action and came three weeks early, the day after my shower. And get soon as she was born she popped out smelling like cake batter! Go figure. 

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