I just put a whole egg in the microwave – I thought, “Man, why doesn’t everyone do this?! It’s way easier than boiling it or mucking around with a frypan!” And then *BOOM* – the whole thing exploded.
Chelsea Winter is the creator of a number of popular cookbooks, including Homemade Happiness, NZ’s best-selling cookbook for 2015. Chelsea’s cooking style, in her own words, is, “Simple made special – everyday ingredients used to make sensational food.” We catch up for a chat just before she heads off on a whirlwind promotional tour for her next cookbook, Scrumptious.
1. Do you have a favourite travel destination?
CHELSEA: Great Barrier Island. I’ve been going there since I was a little girl – we’ve got a family place on the island and we try to get there at least once a year. It’s a 30-minute flight from Auckland, but when you arrive you feel like you’re in a whole other world – like you’ve gone back in time a bit. It’s a really special place, and you can completely unwind and relax … it’s got fishing and surfing and walks and beaches. It’s awesome!
2. What’s one thing about yourself that people would be surprised to know?
CHELSEA: Probably that I’m a bit of a hard case. I’m kind of a tomboy – I grew up in the countryside, playing with mud, climbing trees and driving tractors … so I’m not the blonde city girl that people probably think I am, when they see me in a magazine shoot.
3. What’s your favourite childhood memory?
CHELSEA: It’s hard to think of just one – I have lots of happy memories of being in the kitchen and cooking with my mum. But Christmastime is always special – my family rallies around, and there’s always lots of fun, food, and crazy Christmas music! Because I’m the youngest (I’m 10 years younger than my brother and sister), I’d play the Christmas elf, handing around the pressies. And now I’ve passed that baton onto my niece and nephews; they’re the next generation of littlies coming through.
4. What has been your worst ever cooking disaster?
CHELSEA: There’ve been a few, obviously! But the worst was probably when I was quite young and I decided to cook an egg in the microwave. I just put a whole egg in the microwave – I thought, “Man, why doesn’t everyone do this?! It’s way easier than boiling it or mucking around with a frypan!” And then *BOOM* – the whole thing exploded. So yeah – I learned that the hard way!
5. What are the three most important things in your life?
CHELSEA: Family, for one – and food has to be in there somewhere. I guess for third place it’d be a tie between laughter and the outdoors – I couldn’t choose between those things; I couldn’t do without either of them.
6. What’s on your iPod playlist these days?
CHELSEA: Well, in the car we were just listening to Birds of Tokyo, an Australian band. In general, I’ve been listening to a lot of calming, meditative, yoga type playlists on Spotify lately. They’re nice background music when I’m working. But I like cranking a bit of Eminem now and then, too!
7. Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
CHELSEA: No, I’ve never really made New Year’s resolutions. I think that during the year I’m constantly trying to better myself and learn life’s lessons and be aware of how things are going. I don’t just wait until the beginning of the year to make resolutions that I’m just going to break anyway!
8. What piece of advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
CHELSEA: “You don’t actually know everything – you just think you do!”
9. What’s your go-to meal to make when you have an impromptu gathering?
CHELSEA: It depends a bit on what everyone feels like, but a really quick and easy meal is Fettucine Alfredo – it takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. It’s the most ridiculously decadent cheesy, creamy, buttery pasta with fresh herbs all through it and cracked black pepper… it’s just the best. The recipe’s in my new book. It’s not the most balanced or healthy meal, but everyone loves it!
10. You’re creating delicious food all the time, so how do you work off the calories and keep fit?
CHELSEA: I walk our labradoodle, Sprite, twice a day, and I do yoga. And when I’m creating a cookbook I can be on my feet, running around in my kitchen, for eight or nine hours a day. Cooking can be a real workout – it’s like spending three hours at the gym! Right now in my downtime I try to keep it a bit chilled out. I’ve done the whole running and gym thing, but I’m over all that now – I far prefer gentle exercise. I reckon beginning each day with a walk starts you off on the best path.