I was lucky enough to meet Donna when she last visited New York to promote her new book, The New Easy. We had a chat over a coffee and I asked her a few things about food, Australia, and life in general.
Years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Sydney, Australia and can still remember flipping though a Marie Claire at a hair salon and coming across one of Donna Hay’s pages. I was captivated by the simplicity of her styling and food. I tore the pages out of the magazine and simply put them in my pocket. (Sorry, not sorry!)
A couple of years later her first book came out—The New Cook—and ever since I have been in love with everything she does. Her magazine and books are a great inspiration and actually inspired me to start my own magazine. I mean, we are both stylists who started magazines, how cool is that!
I was lucky enough to meet Donna when she last visited New York to promote her new book, The New Easy. It’s a wonderful book with easy and delicious recipes you actually want to make. I have tried several and they have become staples in my own kitchen.
We had a chat over a coffee and I asked her a few things about food, Australia, and life in general.
Why is food important to you?
I love that food is at the center of so many of the occasions we share with our friends and family—whether it’s everyday meals to cook on weeknights, a long and lazy lunch on the weekend, or the most elaborate layered cake for a birthday party or Christmas feast. My friends are always dropping over at my place, because they know there will be some delicious food to enjoy—it has a wonderful way of bringing people together.
I grew up with a grandmother who was a great cook. Who inspired you to start cooking?
The first cookbook I had was my grandmother’s, so that’s where it started for me, too!
What do you always keep in your pantry?
It’s always very well stocked! For baking, I always have cacao powder, almond meal, and wholemeal spelt flour. Plus maple syrup, sushi rice, and Asian chilli jam (it’s perfect with grilled fish or tossing through greens in a salad).
If you come over to my house in the summer, you’ll always get fed my lime and lemongrass moreton bay bug tails, cooked outside on the grill. That probably sounds like a really odd dish to everyone in the States (moreton bay bugs are like mini lobsters—they’re delicious).
What’s the biggest difference between the food in Australia and the US?
I think a lot of people don’t realize how sophisticated our food culture in Australia is—the abundance and quality of our fresh produce is amazing, and we have stunning local seafood. Our food is very light and lean.
We all have our dirty food secrets. (Mine is Taco Bell.) What’s yours?
Cheese and vegemite toasties (you might need to look that one up, too!). And it’s no secret, but I could eat ice cream all day.
I love your new magazine all about healthy and fresh eating. Why did you decide to add another title to your workload?
I’m not very good with rules and I’m not really one for restrictive diets. I wanted to put together recipes that you can feel good about eating, while still allowing yourself little treats every now and again. The recipes in Fresh + Light are genuinely how I love to eat and cook—it’s about making clever swaps, celebrating beautiful fresh produce, and bringing that sense of balance into your lifestyle. Fresh + Light isn’t available in the US as a printed copy yet, but you can get the digital edition online. It’s been a busy year, but I’m so excited to have launched the new title and see how much our readers are loving it!
What’s the one thing we don’t know about Donna?
People don’t believe me when I tell them I’m actually really shy.
What’s next for Donna?
I’ve just opened my first pop-up store in Sydney, which is so exciting, and we’re doing some great thing to really bring the pages of my magazine and books to life. There are big changes in the works for the magazine next year, too. And I’m about to start filming a new television series, so I’m going to be a busy girl.
Made it? Tell us about it–