Sian Redgrave was the winner of The Great Australian Bakeoff in 2015 and now works across multiple creative disciplines. We visit her Paddington home to enjoy a homemade meal and discuss her food and cooking philosophy.
Sian wears the Column Blazer in Black and the Ida Rib Tee in White.
You’ve dabbled in cooking, recipe development, food styling and have a background in fashion & design. How would you describe yourself?
I often find it difficult to define and describe myself as I guess I’m a bit of a complex being haha. The creative process is the same across any discipline and always requires finding inspiration, a desire to provoke emotion, aesthetic taste, and design principles. So maybe safe to call me a designer, applying all of these processes to a lot of different creative areas.
Tell us about the recipe you’ve cooked for us. What inspired its recipe and why have you chosen these ingredients?
I’ve chosen to make an Italian crostata (really a fancy name for a tart) filled with ricotta and zucchini flowers and a lovely, vibrant summer salad of honey roasted Brussels sprouts, peaches, herbs, and pistachios. I’m always inspired by produce that is in season as it is so bountiful and at the peak of its flavour and nutrition. These ingredients were hard to pass up as they all possess a huge visual impact and I am very driven by the fact that we all eat with our eyes! Choosing plant-based and vegetarian ingredients is also something I am incredibly passionate about.
You won Season 2 of The Great Australian Bake Off, tell us about the experience of cooking on the show.
The Great Australian Bake Off was and is still one of the greatest blessings in my life to date. A few months before we filmed the show, my family and I lost my aunt to cancer so I was in a fairly dark place and had lost my creativity and desire to work on things I loved. The experience of Bake Off truly gave me so much inspiration and clarity that I had to be a part of the food industry and that everything I had learned studying design was applicable to cooking. It was really the thing that catapulted me to where I am now.
You have an eclectic collection of glass and tableware displayed in your kitchen. How do you go about collecting these pieces and do you have a favourite spot to scout?
I am most definitely an organised hoarder haha. I absolutely love beautiful things. Cooking for me isn’t just about the flavour of the food, it’s the plating, styling and visual impact. When I’m out and about and see pottery or tableware I can generally visualise a dish I would love to cook that would suit the vessel. Koskela, Made in Japan, Ginko Leaf, Planet Homewares, Mud and Dinosaur Designs are some of my most favourite places to treasure find.
What’s your favourite meal to make after a long day?
I’m going to be overtly predictable here and say pasta. Italian food for me is absolutely unbeatable and when I’m exhausted after a day of work (which usually entails cooking all day long) I don’t want to spend too long slaving over a hot stove. Pretty much anything goes with pasta and the best ingredients you can always have in your fridge and pantry. Garlic, olive oil, chilli, anchovies and some pecorino and I’m a happy girl.
Can you share more about your food and cooking philosophy?
Food and cooking above anything else is our source of life and sustenance. So it needs to be full of health benefiting nutrition. But I also believe it needs to feed our hearts and souls and be exciting, nostalgic and enticing. I like to think of myself as a healthy hedonist, a little indulgent but mostly good, honest clean food. Cooking for me is simple. Choose in-season organic ingredients, create visually stimulating food full of flavour and say no to processed junk food.
Beyond cooking, what do you love to do?
Gosh, there are so many things because creativity is never-ending, but music would have to be my greatest love. Ever since I was little I would obsess over bands and artists I love, especially house, disco, acid jazz and hip hop. My days always start and end with music, I’m constantly listening to something and discovering new artists and mixes on Soundcloud. Reading, spin class (the way I stay sane!)and trying to learn Italian take up the rest of my time.
We’re interested to know, what are you reading, listening and watching at the moment?
As far as reading goes: Jordan B Peterson, a lot of books on old provincial Italian cooking, Eckhart Tolle and an Italian dictionary haha. Music, in a very 90s phase of St Germain, Portishead, Massive Attack, A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu and a lot of Chicago/Detroit house from the early 90s. I don’t have a lot of time to watch films and tv but I live close to Verona cinema and love to duck over there and see foreign films and eat a choc top!
Tell us about your neighbourhood, where do you like to eat, drink and shop?
I live in Paddington in Sydney which is such a great central suburb so it’s easy to walk everywhere. There are so many good cafes and restaurants around me. I love Omeio for my morning coffee and a delicious Greek biscuit, dinner favourites are Freds, Don Peppinos, Dinitris Pizza, Saint Peter, and 10 William. Shopping is everywhere and I have a bit of an addiction so I generally try to put my head down as I walk by, but Acne, Incu, Poepke, and Jardan are hard to resist.
What are you working on at the moment?
2020 is so exciting for me as I will be launching my own magazine called Abbiocco. It will encompass all things food, fashion, music, design, travel, and architecture, hopefully being a wonderful source of knowledge and inspiration. I have some incredible friends who are very talented designers and photographers working on the project so anticipation is high. It will be available as a downloadable magazine and also pre-order in a print format.
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