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.