I live in the north western Australian town Port Hedland with my husband and two sons. Primarily an outback mining town, Port Hedland comes with fiery hot temperatures, reaching 50 degrees celsius in summer, plenty of red dust and the odd cyclone thrown in every now and then. We don’t have farmer’s markets, a local butcher, traffic lights or much choice when it comes to shopping, schools or entertainment. What it does have however is plenty of heart, a community who looks out for each other and a natural beauty you only see once you get out of the city and see the real Australia. I am proud to be a part of this town, and I love cooking for the many friends who have come and gone from this town that has been our home for the past 11 years.
My cooking comes partly from watching and learning while growing up in an Italian family, and partly from having to cook for my own family and how it has changed year to year. My style of cooking, while predominantly Italian, changes too, depending on the seasons and what’s going on in my life. Living remote, it’s all about what I can get my hands on, and with the hot climate most of my cooking is no fuss, quick meals so I don’t spend too much time in a hot kitchen. I love eating good food, and there is nothing better, in my mind, than a home cooked meal.
I grew up down south 2000km away, in a little town called Bunbury, where the seasons were mild compared to where I live now. Mum always had a pot of sauce bubbling away on the stove in the afternoon, filling the house with the aroma of garlic and oregano (just that smell takes me back in time). Everything was made from scratch from the tomato sauce we jarred every year, to the home made Italian sausages hanging from rods in the shed. The garden was our pantry, the chooks laid our eggs, and there was always plenty of food to serve everyone, no matter how many people turned up for dinner. My Nonna’s house was always a noisy place, filled with love, tradition and plenty of extended family. Her cooking has always been the inspiration behind our family meals. When I got married and had my own family, I took on those traditions by continuing to be inspired by my family recipes, often tweaking them to suit our needs, nurturing my children, feeding family and friends. Cooking became a huge part of my life.
In 2013 I was lucky enough to experience being on Masterchef Australia 2013. It was a wild ride, and solidified my passion for food and my desire to share it with others on a grander scale. Since then I have been cooking more than ever before, running a catering business and publishing two cookbooks, Easy Home Cooking, Italian Style and Food for Sharing, Italian Style. Both books are all about easy and delicious food meant to be shared with loved ones. I’ve just finished my third book, The Sweet Life, Easy Home Baking and Sweet Treats, Italian Style. It will be released February 2018.
I am a big believer that the table, rather than the kitchen, is the heart of the home. My passion is to encourage people to cook often, using natural, seasonal ingredients, and sit down together to share a meal together. I know what it’s like not to have the best ingredients at your disposal, it’s all about using what you’ve got. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and can often be a mixed bag of leftovers turned into a quick meal, but the act of sitting together, sharing the day while eating a meal is one of life’s pleasures. And don’t get me started on the food that we should or shouldn’t eat. My mantra is to eat everything in moderation, cook from scratch as often as possible, eat plenty of vegetables, listen to your body and eat when you need to, stop when you’re full, and enjoy food without guilt (even the wine at the end of the day!)
I am very fortunate to be living in this unique part of the world (even though I often day-dream I’m in a little villa in Tuscany instead of my outback kitchen) and equally love the challenges and beauty of this place. We make the most of it by enjoying the rugged coastline, getting out on the ocean and catch our own fish, go camping in the wilderness, fire up the barbecue and invite people over to share meals together in our backyard rather than go out to restaurants and crank up the air-conditioning and enjoy the year round summer weather. Ok I admit, I the weather in December and January is pretty harsh (where the temperature hovers over 45 degrees every day), but we make do.
I hope you enjoy visiting my website. I love hearing from you, and hearing how my recipes turned out for you at home. I look forward to sharing with you from my little Italian kitchen under the outback Australian sun..