My food and cooking journey: from budding chef to values based eating

11 March 2018
When I was about eight years old I decided I wanted to be a chef. I'd been on holidays to my cousin's house and she was all about cooking at the time. We spent the week together cooking up a storm in her family kitchen because she had recently decided she was going to be a chef when she 'grew up'. I had always loved baking but had actually had my sights set on writing as my future career. But suddenly a spark was lit.

I don't think I really knew there was such thing as a chef before this point. I grew up in a small rural town on home cooked food with the very occasional take away (I'm talking a few times a year) – no chef cooked meals in sight. I would safely hazard a guess that there were no chefs in my home town at all and I had definitely not sampled any meals cooked by one. What a revelation – you could cook for a living.

Once my mind was made up that was it. I set to learning everything I could about cooking. Every birthday I received recipe books and cooking paraphernalia. I remember cooking my first meal for the family at age ten – a chicken and mushroom casserole from my family circle kids cookbook. It was such a sense of accomplishment.

I think that is a big appeal of cooking for me. You set out to achieve a goal and in a relatively short time you complete it. It may not always go to plan but that doesn't particularly matter to me. Every time a recipe fails or I go too rogue and mess things up I  generally learn something that makes me a better cook (trite as it sounds). But the feeling of creating something from a few ingredients is empowering really. Of course it helps that cooking and eating is a very tasty endeavour indeed.

Apple and Rhubarb Pie.

Over time my plans changed and I didn't actually pursue a career as a chef but I did stick with the food theme and I stuck with cooking. Cooking is such a part of me, a part of my identity as well as being an integral part of my way of life. If you asked anyone in my life what is important to me or what comes to mind when they think of me food (or some connection to it) would definitely make the top three.

My cooking style has slowly evolved too of course. From learning the basics, to experimenting with new ingredients to challenging myself with different techniques and now to cooking as much as possible myself, from scratch, in line with my food values.

More and more I'm drawn to cooking as a way to connect. It connects me to the food I grow and buy. It makes me aware of where that food comes from. It also connects me to people, to family, to friends and to community. Food is so effective as a tool to connect us to others.

Food also connects me to many of my values. Particularly around simple living and sustainability. I'm not perfect by any means, I don't always make the 'best' choice but the act of buying food each week keeps me reflecting on the choices I make. It helps me to recognise the power of those choices in shaping my connection to my food and my ability to walk the walk not just talk the talk. Room for improvement to be sure.

Simple, seasonal meals.

The more I grow for myself and make from scratch the less I'm faced with the dilemmas of choice. Doing it yourself gives you so much more control (but it also takes a heck of a lot more time!). But unless I'm going to become completely self sufficient choices will always be there. There will always be room to grow and change and learn. And also room to compromise and make the best choice I can for my circumstances at any one time. And I think that's the best we all can do really. Make the choice that works for us at the time, with the information we have at the time.

So, I'll continue to deepen my connection to food. I'll keep gathering more information to help guide my choices. I'll keep my values to front of mind. I'll keep cooking. I'll remember to honour my love of good quality, simple, tasty food. And hopefully I'll pass that on to my kids.

Do your values guide your food choices or your cooking style?
What did you want to be when you grew up?


  1. Oh those photos! They could have been taken in my kitchen, my kind of food, right down to the enamel pie dish. Loving your beautiful blog. Sally from Jembella Farm. XX

  2. I'm a big sucker for enamel cookware. Thanks for all the lovely comments Sally xx


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