When did you realise you wanted to cook for a living?
I don’t think there was a moment where I wanted to cook for a living at all. I guess I was just lucky enough to turn my passion into my career! It is not something I take for granted. I have a lovely team and I feel so fortunate. It never feels like work.
What do you wish you knew when you first started out in the industry?
I am really honest with the young girls in my office and when I speak at women’s forums; I don’t pretend that everything is smooth sailing and that I have never made any mistakes – I just find that kind of ridiculous. You have to be able to laugh at yourself; being serious is really not my game. I think the ability to get up dust yourself off and get on with it, but you have to have time to go out with your girlfriends and have a drink and a cry – so what, have a giggle, have a laugh, go for a jog. You can’t be too hard on yourself!!
“Women are so hard on themselves! There is a reason why they wrote that ‘Let it go’ song for that movie Frozen. You just have to let it go – you can’t fix everything. You just need to take the learnings and move on.”
What is your biggest kitchen disaster?
We test recipes for a living, so they [kitchen disasters] are weekly. It is tricky – cooking is a science and when you test that, it can be quite disastrous. I have more disasters at home – I am the queen of burning things! There are so many distractions at home. The kids always say ‘What are you burning today?’
How do you find balance in your life
I don’t know if I do. I don’t obsess about it, I think the no rules thing works for me! Everywhere you look there is a guide to doing something better. Where is the guide that says ‘be happy right now’? Where is that one!?
“As a good food writer, you need to be able to take
a few ingredients and make them sensational.”
What would you say to those people who say they don’t have time to cook?
Everything has changed with online shopping – I will be sitting in an airport doing online shopping to make sure it is there when I am home. There are so many options; it is just a case of being organised and motivated. When people start with a simple recipe, gain confidence and see how easy it is to cook, how much tastier it is and when their partner or friends love it, it starts a chain reaction.
How do we keep it basic for Christmas?
As it is summer at home (Sydney, Australia), lots of people stop by for drinks, so I like to have some basic things in the fridge that I can add together, such as hummus that I can place on top of some fried chorizo, or olives soaked in gin (you can’t leave these for too many days though, because they get VERY potent!)
What do you usually have on your Christmas table?
We have a strange Christmas in Australia, like a new-modern and so I try to please everyone and keep them happy, it is a mixed bag. I just try and get organised and not have everything in the oven.
I also try to get all the serving spoons and platters out as this is the time I serve more people and food than usual. I pre-make bases of cocktails, put out the glassware so people can help themselves to drinks when they arrive. I try to do as much as I can in advance. It is more about doing all the prep and being organised.
“My biggest achievement? Hopefully, I haven’t had it yet.”
What is your favourite Christmas tradition?
We ride our bikes to the beach after we have opened presents. We go for a swim and have a light breakfast at the beach. That is my tradition with my boys.
The No-Fail Pavlova
My friends are very high maintenance and always expect desserts! Usually, on a Saturday night, I put my meringue in the oven to dry overnight and then drizzle melted chocolate over the top (see recipe). The trick to a no-fail meringue mixture is to measure the egg whites! When you are baking, the fewer ingredients you have the more the science (measurements) has to be exact. No egg is the same. You have to measure these in ounces. You have to be very precise!
To purchase her new book click HERE
Try Donna’s no-fail meringue and Christmas Pavlova recipes HERE