Food writer Delaney Mes, who began her successful Heartbreak Pie blog four years ago in Wellington, describes herself as an all-round food enthusiast and thrower of dinner parties. Delaney, a former lawyer, writes a fortnightly column for the Living magazine of the Herald on Sunday and also runs events and catering, as well as writes regularly for Metro magazine.
Delaney is one enthusiastic foodie. She favours long lazy brunch feasts and everything from duck a l'orange and oysters to cheese toasties and a good spag bol. She says she takes inspiration from fresh, seasonal produce and loves talking to anyone about food. We take her up on that comment and have a chat...
Tell us about the type of food you will be cooking in your Herald on Sunday column.
I’m hoping to create accessible, delicious recipes. Lots of fresh, seasonal produce, easy dinners and some great baking.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Simple and impressive – a little twist to take something from okay to really great. I’m less fussy on presentation than if something tastes great.
What foods can’t you get enough of now?
At the moment I am roasting or sautéing a lot of brussels sprouts! I’m also going through a real Middle Eastern phase – lots of vegetarian dishes with amazing spices and flavour combinations.
Any food/trend you abhor?
I’m baffled that people still buy non-free range eggs or chicken.
You say you are a lover of throw-together dinner parties. Do you dislike formality?
I love formality sometimes, but I also love a casual, wine-fuelled, dinner party that could get raucous and end with dancing on the tables.
What inspires you food-wise?
Other people. I love talking to anyone about what kind of food they eat and cook. Other cultures especially, but also chefs. I flatted with a chef a few years ago and would pester him constantly; the same when I was a waitress, I was always harassing the chefs to tell me what they were putting with what and why.
What’s your all-time favourite meal?
Impossible to answer, but ripe avocado on Vogel’s toast with sea salt and cracked pepper.
Your must-have kitchen utensils?
It’s amazing what you can do with very little, but a sharp knife gets you a long way. For perfect scrambled eggs (my signature dish) it’s got to be a whisk and a rubber spatula.
Describe a typical day for us.
Well, as a freelancer it is different all the time. Generally though, I’ll get up and make myself breakfast and grind some coffee beans. I’ll go for a walk and then get cracking on some writing. Emails are pretty constant, as are meetings. For my Metro column I get to eat out a lot, so I’ll often me trying new cafes for lunch. I look after my cousin’s kids a few hours a week, so get them from school, and then evenings are either cooking myself dinner, going out for dinner, catching up with friends, going to events or shows, could be anything! Often on Saturdays I’ll have an event on in the evening, so that’s usually a big day of cooking. My blog gets a bit neglected but I fit that in when I can, too. It’s chaotic but it’s fun.
You were a guest cook on the Good Morning show. Any more TV plans?
Absolutely! Watch this space.
Planning a cookbook?
Sure am. And also a memoir full of hilarious awkward dating stories from my 20s.
Who is your food idol?
I have so many. I love Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater and Nigella, and locally we have amazing chefs all over the country. My grandma always made classic desserts, and I’m always interested in what my mum, my big sister and my Aunt Robyn are cooking.
What is your biggest cooking achievement?
Cooking raspberry baby cakes live on Good Morning with British comedian Lenny Henry, whilst nursing a plaster-casted broken wrist, was up there. Also, cooking a three-course pop-up dinner party for 84 friends, and somehow pulling it off was pretty amazing. The first time I made duck a’lorange was also an achievement. It was so delicious.
And your biggest kitchen disaster?
Ha! So many. So, so many... There were a couple on Good Morning, including a food processor malfunction with meant my soup was more like cauliflower puree and the stock was dribbling all over the bench. At home I try and avoid them but there have been small fires, cuts and burns pretty often.
If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Everywhere! I actually want to go everywhere and eat everything. Top of my list at the moment is the USA, Scandinavia and Japan. I also want to get back to Spain, Italy and France, and back to Asia. I want to go everywhere. And eat everything. And write about it!
Where do you like to go out to eat?
I love going to cafés on my own, I’m a massive coffee snob and really appreciate a great café. I love cheap eats – Malaysian, Chinese hand-pulled noodles, great ramen, and I also love a good bistro – unpretentious delicious food, good wine, great service, bustling atmosphere. Basically, I just love going out to eat.
What do you eat for breakfast?
At the moment I’m eating lots of porridge with tamarillos and walnuts and honey.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Tough call! But I’m going to have to go with chocolate.