Why I Cook – by Jacqui Lewis – The Broad Place

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Why I Cook – by Jacqui Lewis

Cooking is in my blood. My dad, Greg Doyle, is a well known chef in Australia and had the Three Hat/Restaurant of the Year Pier Restaurant for 21 years before we flipped it together into The Sailors Club and downstairs cafe The Swimmers Club. My uncle Peter is also a chef from Est. fame. What I love about their stories, is that both my dad and uncle became chef’s so that they could surf more, and have their days free, not from some ingrained longing to work in a kitchen and create.

All the chef’s I have worked alongside throughout all my years working in restaurants. My first job was as a dish pig (wash hand) aged 13 in a cafe in Avalon on the Northern Beaches, and I worked part time in cafe’s and restaurants around Sydney until I was 26, including a long stint at Pier.

I am in no way a chef like my dad. I am a cook, and I love it, although I could be much better at it. I cook to express love, my love of amazing produce, the best ingredients, and the people who are enjoying it. I read a tonne of cook books and cooking blogs, however I cook in a very haphazard kind of way, generally not following recipes and going by instinct and feel. Over a decade ago, Jamie Oliver changed the way I cooked, and then Nigel Slater and Yottam Ottelenghi. What I am really taking to now is a mostly plant and vegetable based diet, with seafood an occasion, and meat very rarely. I am not into extremes with my eating any more, although I have tried all sorts of things to see what works for my body. The more I practised meditation and studied to be a teacher, the more I understood the mind/body connection, and this now heavily influences how I eat. I prefer to have a balanced approach, and say yes to everything, every so often, rather than no to lots of things every single day.

May I encourage you to cook with more heart than skill. Given that no two lemons, nor pomegranates are the same, there’s no way they yield the same when you say ‘the juice of a lemon’. So taste everything as you go, and follow your instincts.

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