Welcome to the second edition of a new series called The Things We Do, where I share tales of what my team and I get up to outside the kitchen! Team offsites, debut live cooking show, a new starter at RecipeTin Meals, a special reader dinner….and MOVING.
Life has been full!
We don’t just cook anymore!
9 years ago, I started this little website with just Dozer as my right-hand man, sharing recipes I created in my single-bench Ikea kitchen.
Today, RecipeTin is a team of 10, including an actual professional real Chef who works alongside me every day (JB!). I have a foodbank, RecipeTin Meals, where we make over 100,000 homemade meals annually which we donate to the less fortunate. I made a cookbook. And it seems these days, I’m a weekly columnist for a food publication and we also do food show events. 😳
So I thought it might be nice to share some behind the scenes of what my team and I get up to outside the kitchen. Here’s some things we’ve done since the last edition of The Things We Do!
We had a team off-site
With the fast pace of the business and variety of new things we’ve been doing over the past year (book tours! events! charity!), I felt it was important to bring my whole team together and do a presentation on goals and vision for RecipeTin, and the important part they would play in it.
It was a rare occasion to bring both the RTE and RTM side of my business together for more than just a team lunch. So to make the most of it, I held the conference in the Hunter Valley, a wine region 2 hours drive from Sydney.
This was a conference, the RecipeTin Way! We tried the official group photo. Just….awkward….
This is more like it!
As much fun as the team bonding / play part was, the presentation part was serious. It took me many hours to put it together and it was worth every minute. We left the conference a stronger team than ever.
But on the topic of the fun – here’s a little home movie of the RecipeTin Conference 2023!
We did a photoshoot at RTM
I hired a professional photographer to do a photoshoot at RTM to capture “official” photos for the RTM website that we’re building. We got some great shots – even half decent ones of me!
But then Barl, our Fijian care-bear, resigned to pursue another career, so we have to do it all over again. The boys are going to be thrilled when they read that! 😂
There was another photo shoot
Oh yes, and in the middle of the RTM shoot, I had to duck out to get a photo taken for a news article announcing that I’m touring Australia with the Good Food & Wine Show! It was a strange day. More on the show below….
Then the Better Homes & Gardens TV crew took over my house!
The Better Homes & Gardens TV show came to my house! They spent a day filming a “day in the life of” in my home then visited RTM the next day to do filming there as well. It was surreal!! You can watch the episode here. I’m at the beginning, middle and end.
Also – everyone in my team is now officially in love with Johanna Griggs, the host. She’s as nice as she comes across on TV and ten times more hilarious!!
There was more TV…..
Then…2 days after that, we (Chef JB and I) were back in a TV studio doing a live segment to announce our new weekly recipe column in Good Food Australia. Here we are on the Channel 9 Today Show. I can’t even remember what we made that day!!!
Just on that weekly column….
So, on the topic of my weekly Good Food column! It’s called “SOS” and will feature a recipe that can feed four people for less than $20, or can be made in less than 30 minutes with fewer than 12 ingredients.
These recipes are exclusive to Good Food and in the Good Food lift out in Tuesday’s Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers. So they won’t be on my website – ever (sadly).
My hope is that it will encourage more people to ditch overpriced heat-and-eat style dinners, save money, and eat more delicious food! Here’s a preview of some of the recipes I’ve shared:
Oh and look! They even put me on the cover of the Sydney Morning Herald on the day they made the announcement. It was a BIG DEAL!!! (Please Dozer, could you show some support).
Then there was that fancy dinner!
If you told me 12 months ago that a hatted restaurant in Sydney would create a one-night-only menu inspired by recipes from my cookbook, I probably would’ve snorted then choked on my coffee (being the elegant lass that I am).
But it did happen, and we even made a little home movie about it so you can see that I actually wore a frock. This was for an exclusive Good Food subscriber dinner to celebrate the launch of the new-look Good Food!
Oh, there was also the little matter that I was sitting next to some of the most powerful and influential media and food journalists in Australia. Damn, I wish I knew the big-big boss was going to be there, I would’ve brushed up on my current affairs. 😭
Cookbook launch in the UK and US!
My cookbook was released overseas in the US, UK, Canada and Ireland!! Never imagined in a million years that such a thing would happen. Somebody pinch me!!
Launching the book in the US was fun, with a 1 hour live stream hosted by Premiere Collectibles who sell autographed books. It was supposed to be a live stream for me to sign books – so people could see they were authentic signatures – but I got rather sidetracked answering questions and taking viewers on a tour of my house and forgot to sign them on camera. Oops!
The live stream was recorded so you can watch it here.
Thank you again to all the readers overseas who sent through photos of my book overseas!! Loved seeing them in bookstores on the other side of the world.
Oh, there was also that little matter of my cookbook making the New York Times best seller list. Spoiler: there were tears.
Debut live cook show in Melbourne!
I arrived home at midnight last night after 5 days in Melbourne doing my debut live cooking show at the Good Food & Wine Show with RecipeTin’s very own Chef JB Alexandre!! We did a 45 minute show cooking 3 dishes as a demonstration of how you can make a big-impact spread with speed!
WOW what an experience. More than 25,000 people came to the Good Food & Wine Show over 3 days and we were doing our show on the main stage, followed by a book signing / meet & greet.
I can honestly say I’ve never been so nervous before in my life! I literally could not talk in the minutes leading up to going on stage and I think I went to the toilet 5 times in 20 minutes. 😂
But the minute we went on stage the nerves completely disappeared. It was like chatting to friends while I cooked – I was just missing a glass of wine. (Or, was I….?? 😈).
JB – what a champ. Not one for public speaking and having not done anything like this before, yet he absolutely nailed it. So proud to have done my first live cooking show with him by my side!
And in fact, JB was doing book signings with me throughout the whole show. By the end of the 3rd day, we had to get him his own table because his queue was banked up!!
And if you’re wondering about my OTHER sidekick – he was there in spirit. In 2D form!
Here’s a little home movie we made:
What we made for our show – “Cooking up a storm, the RecipeTin Way”: Vietnamese Shaking Beef (cookbook exclusive), Singapore Chilli Prawns/Shrimp (created especially for the show!), Coconut Rice and Smashed Cucumber Salad.
Click here for show dates in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth!
And finally…why I moved.
In amongst all of the above, I sold my dream home and moved!
Until 3 weeks ago, I lived in Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches and have now moved back to the Ryde area of Sydney where I lived for 10 years. I’m now much closer to the city (50 minutes vs 15 minutes), much closer to abundant (good!) Asian food, but much further from the beach.
My former home was purpose built for my business. It had 3 kitchens: 2 for work and 1 in my private living quarters, my dream kitchen purpose-built to my weird specifications I never imagined I’d ever have.
Selling it and leaving the Northern Beaches area was a sad and tough decision. So why did I do it?
Here’s why I left my dream home
I sold my dream home because:
I need to separate work from life.
I need and want to be closer to my food bank.
I plan to move my food bank to a (much) larger kitchen in the Ryde area.
I need to release capital to build my food bank and my office.
I can’t be trusted with my office beneath my living room….
If I cut to the chase, the move is driven by my desire to move RTM from the current small kitchen we have on the fringe of Sydney CBD to a larger kitchen, and I want that kitchen to be in the Ryde area. It’s an excellent location to service the whole of Sydney and for real estate cost reasons.
It’s also a “rip the bandaid off” approach to try to improve my work-life balance. I’ve been very open about how I’ve been struggling with handling my workload as my business has grown. And how the cookbook, while I celebrate in all its successes, was the hardest thing I’ve ever worked on in my life. It didn’t break me, but I damn well worked myself into the ground to the point of being unhealthy.
It’s just a plain fact that I am not the sort of person who can be trusted with my office beneath my living room. Too easy to access and work too much!
But, I’ve been faffing around. I didn’t want to leave the northern beaches or my home. I was half-heartedly looking for somewhere to rent near Ryde – but not really.
It took a big kick up my bum by my business coach to get cracking! So I took the “rip the bandaid-off” approach and sold my house without knowing where I was moving.
That certainly got me going to find a new house!!!
So here we are on move day – feeding people right up to the last minute.
And here were are, unpacking in the new place. And – feeding people, before we’ve unpacked!
Removalist recommendation (Sydney) – Double J Removals 1800 830 506. Fast. Professional. Entertaining. Friendly. Helpful.
So what now?
I drastically downsized. I’m currently in a rental in the Ryde area with 1 rather than 3 kitchens (#FirstWorldProblems!). There will be an adjustment period. I need to figure out my new workflow. I feel more than ever like I’m living at work because there is no separation between my personal space and work.
Things will get a little harder before they get better, I know that.
But I’m in the area I need to be. Boots on the ground, as I say, to pound the pavement to find a new kitchen for RTM. To find a location for my work-kitchen which will be exclusively for work, and only for work.
And to find a home that is work-free. No photography or video studio!
I’m so excited about the year to come. Building a new kitchen for RTM – bigger space! Better equipment! Donating more meals!! 🙌🏻
Building a purpose-built “house-office” for this unique no-other-business-like-it thing we call RecipeTin! A creative hub where I can create and experiment with new recipes, where I can photograph, write and film recipe videos. A place large enough to host lunches and dinners, a place I can invite readers to dine with us – hopefully!
And, finding a home I can escape to on evenings and weekends. Work free.
2023 is THE year! – Nagi x
Life of Dozer
Final sunset walk at Bayview dog park the evening before we moved out.
But honestly, there was zero adjustment period for Mr Dozer. As long as he gets treats and is with me, he is as happy as can be. Dogs are the BEST! ❤️