Donna Hay

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Donna Hay has seen kitchen and food trends go on and off the boil since she en­tered her first test kitchen. How has your cook­ing phi­los­o­phy changed over the years? My mantra has al­ways been to make cook­ing fast, fresh and sim­ple. I also love tak­ing the hard work out of things — all the wow with­out the work, as I like to say!

What was your cook­ing light bulb mo­ment? It was watch­ing my grand­mother bake. She was the one who ig­nited my in­ter­est in cook­ing. I used to sit on the kitchen bench as she made cakes, puddings and scones. I still make her Christ­mas pud­ding ex­actly the same as she did.

Is home cook­ing more pop­u­lar than ever? I’m not sure that it is, there was a big shift to con­ve­nience foods and eat­ing out in restaurants for quite some time. It’s only in the past five years that the ef­fect of TV cook­ing shows like MasterChef has seen people get­ting back into their kitchens.

What are the lat­est ‘in’ in­gre­di­ents? There’s been a huge push for quinoa, kale and brussels sprouts in the past year, and salted caramel has been pop­u­lar for more than two years.

Your pre­dic­tion for the next big thing? People will con­tinue to be more en­gaged in where their food comes from; cook­ing at home with whole grains, or­ganic food and lo­cal food.

Any tips for ner­vous cooks? Don’t over­stretch yourself. Start with the ba­sics and the favourite dishes you en­joy and work from there. The grow-your-own trend is get­ting lots of cov­er­age — what is its im­pact on cook­ing?

I think most of us are in love with the ro­mance of grow­ing our own pro­duce, but the re­al­ity is that it’s hard to sup­ple­ment your cook­ing with home-grown ve­g­ies all the time. The move­ment has been an im­por­tant ed­u­ca­tional tool for chil­dren on where their food comes from, es­pe­cially through gar­den ini­tia­tives at schools. I know my boys get su­per ex­cited about har­vest­ing our own toma­toes and snow peas .

And your favourite kitchen gad­get? I can’t live with­out my kitchen stand mixer for bak­ing, mak­ing meringue, dough and more. It’s been the one con­stant in my life. Plus, I’m al­ways us­ing my stick mixer to whip up quick smooth­ies, sauces or pesto.

Which ap­pli­ances do you have and use most? I had a new fridge in­stalled yes­ter­day and I’m in love. It has french doors at the top and draw­ers at the bot­tom. It’s so wide; I’ll be able to fit a large plat­ter in the mid­dle with­out a prob­lem. I think I like it be­cause it’s more like a beau­ti­fully or­gan­ised cup­board than a fridge.

What sur­face do you pre­fer to work on ? In the test kitchen, we pre­fer stain­less steel be­cause of its dura­bil­ity and low main­te­nance. At home I pre­fer some­thing more tac­tile like honed gran­ite or mar­ble.

What do you pre­fer un­der your feet in a kitchen?

Again, some­thing tac­tile; I pre­fer wooden floor­boards. What has the move to­wards larger kitchens done to the work­able tri­an­gle rule for kitchen de­sign? I’ve never been a fan of the rigid work­ing tri­an­gle rule. I think if you de­sign your own kitchen, it should be de­pen­dent on what kind of needs you have as a cook and what kind of en­ter­tainer you are. Big­ger kitchens af­ford more flex­i­bil­ity around where you place things and you es­sen­tially de­sign your own work­ing tri­an­gle.

But­ler’s pantries are a big trend. Your thoughts? If I had the space, I would def­i­nitely have one. It’s a great way to have ev­ery­thing con­tained and or­gan­ised.

Words

Joanne Hawkins

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