After completing a BSc in human nutrition and post-graduate diploma in dietetics, Nadia Lim worked for the Auckland District Health Board for three years as a dietitian, specialising in diabetes education. After winning MasterChef ‘s second season, she has become a well-known personality, cookbook author and food writer. Her time is split between recipe writing, cooking demonstrations, charity work and media appearances. Nadia is the poster chef for healthy living in New Zealand and introduces healthy habits into the pages of the NZ Herald’s Bite. www.nadialim.com
What’s your earliest food memory?
Sitting at the breakfast bar, watching my mum cook, waiting in eager anticipation for dinner to be served….especially if it was my favourite…..macaroni and cheese! Ahhh, I can still smell the onion and bacon cooking!
Where do you draw your culinary inspiration?
Mainly from the produce in front of me…..I am a free-style cook, I will always buy what catches my eye or looks interesting or is freshest, and then decide what to cook. Not the other way around.
Who is your cooking idol?
I am a big fan of Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall and visited his River Cottage last year – his cooking style is very in touch with nature and, like me, he draws inspiration from whatever he has in front of him. I also like his sensible and resourceful approach to healthy eating. Jamie Oliver was the reason I got into cooking in the first place – when I was 12 years old it was watching him on The Naked Chef that inspired me to get into cooking, so for that he will always be an idol.
What is your greatest cooking achievement to date?
I’ve been through many challenging cooking situations now (including MasterChef!), however I feel my biggest achievement has been being able to instill confidence in everyday people to produce delicious healthy meals every night with my recent business My Food Bag – it is the best feeling when someone rings or emails you saying how my recipes have brought the fun back into cooking, and that they feel PROUD of what they plate up – making other people feel proud of their cooking is all I can ask for.
What’s your favourite meal?
That’s like asking someone what their favourite song is! Such a hard question because it depends….on what mood you’re in…..where you are…..who you’re with. At the time it could be something as simple as potatoes, poached egg and asparagus, or if my husband has had a successful hunting trip, wild venison backstrap carpaccio with a raspberry balsamic dressing.
What’s your biggest kitchen disaster?
Do I have to tell?! People might be scared off of me cooking for them if I do……it may or may not involve a pan full of duck fat bursting into flames almost as high as the ceiling!
If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I really want to travel to Turkey! I love Middle Eastern flavours, and I’ve heard the markets there are amazing.
What are your kitchen must haves?
A casual relaxed attitude and respect for your ingredients, very sharp knives, salt and enthusiasm.
Why do you love cooking?
It’s just about the only thing I’m really good at and has been since I was a kid.
Who is your dream dinner guest?
The obvious one would be Jamie Oliver so I could say to him “thanks for inspiring a 12 year old to follow their dream”