What made you want to be a chef?
Thank you for having me Rosie! I suppose the creative nature of the job and I fell in love with Italian produce when I worked at my first restaurant. Especially the way they made gelato. Incredible!
When you were younger what did you want to be?
I wanted to own a zoo, farm and own a pet shop. I think I was a little too obsessed with animals.
What has been your favourite culinary moment to date?
Whenever I think of my book deal it always makes me happy. I felt like I had won the lottery and the feeling was totally exhilarating. I celebrated with lots of champagne for about a month. It seemed impossible that anyone would offer me a book deal, let alone a two book deal. Whenever I have a tough moment I try to take myself back to this time and it always sorts my mind out.
What makes your recipes the best of the best?
Haha! This is very kind of your to say so! I have no idea! I just try to cook what inspires me and make dishes that are colourful, healthy and above all, delicious.
Who is the favourite person you have worked with?
I would have to say my niece, Ines who helped present my cooking videos on instagram during lockdown. She is the best sous chef.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“You can do and be whoever you want.” - (My mum) It seems so simple but when you tell someone who is little these words over and over again, it can have a huge impact later on. I think this is why I was never afraid to start my own business.
Which is your favourite recipe from your new cookbook Saucy?
There are loads of favourites but I love the Bigoli In Salsa bucatini. It’s the ultimate recipe for it’s simplicity, rustic feel and depth of flavour. It’s just anchovies, caramelised onions, garlic and the pasta cooking water. It’s an old school Venetian recipe.
Who is your ultimate business inspiration?
My sister Juliana and brother-in-law, Josh. They own a property and interior business (@pvgdesign) and they often help with creative ideas for my company. My sister actually painted the front cover for my Saucy book.
What are 3 words to describe yourself?
Bossy, sensitive and funny (hopefully).
What are 3 words to describe your cooking style?
Rustic, modern and saucy.
What is the secret to success?
Being resilient to the downs. It’s a series of swings and roundabouts and it’s all about riding the wave and accepting that after a few rejects, you’ll eventually get a great yes.
What advice would you give to future female generations?
Don’t be a sheep to society and follow your own path.
What motivates you?
Anything can motivate me from a great restaurant to an inspiring person. Creatives from any industry can really help push me to do better.
Which 3 people would make up your dream dinner party?
Roger Federer, Jamie XX and the chef Roy Choi. This would just be for me though, I think selfishly they might not all get on. I would be picking up tips from all directions though.
What are you grateful for?
My friends and family. So simple but after all these lockdowns, it’s about who can get you through a very dark January day with and lean on. It’s definitely everything!
What is one thing everyone should do?
What are you reading right now?
The vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Loving it! So beautifully written and tackling all the main topics right now with an awesome story.
What is your spirit animal?
A labrador puppy.
What are you most unapologetic for?
My ability to eat family sized crisp packets in one sitting.
What is the best aspect of having your own business?
Being able to go on holiday at a moments notice and being able to work from any location.
What is the hardest part of having your own business?
Never switching off!
What is something you’re currently working on?
Let’s just say, they are very Saucy and will be launching in the autumn.
Where will you be in 10 years time?
Hopefully my food rapping career will be in full swing by then and I’ll be dancing till kingdom come.
Below is Nina's recipe to her Bigoli In Salsa!
- 3 red onions and 1 banana shallot, all thinly sliced (about 400g onions in total)
- 1 small garlic clove, diced
- 10 anchovy fillets in olive oil, roughly chopped
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp finely chopped parsley for garnish
- 180g spaghetti/bucatini pasta
- Salt and pepperBring a saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil and add the pasta to cook to al dente which is usually around 9-10 minutes.
While this cooks, place a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and add the olive oil to warm followed by the sliced onions. Fry the onions for about 6 minutes mixing all the time until they start to reduce and caramelise. Then add the anchovies and cook for another 4 minutes using the back of a wooden spoon to break them up. Add in the diced garlic and fry for another 2 minutes. Next, add about 160ml of the starchy cooking water to loosen the sauce. Add pepper and salt and taste to check the seasoning. The pasta should now be ready to drain and then toss through the sauce. Mix well so that the pasta is evenly coated. Serve straight away with a little extra olive oil and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.