Guest Foodie - Nici Wickes

Born in New Zealand and growing up in a large family, Nici was cooking as soon as she could reach the bench top. At eight years old her favourite make-believe game was to play host of a cooking show where she would showcase various recipes – Russian fudge, pancakes, chocolate cakes -  from the family kitchen. In 2009 make-believe became reality when she became the presenter for World Kitchen, a new, fast-paced, cheeky travel and cooking show. 

Nici has trained as a chef and has run her own catering business but mostly her extensive knowledge of food and cooking comes from travelling the world, learning new ways of cooking and eating. 

Two of Nici’s recipes, inspired by the best of her travels, will be featuring in upcoming WOOP boxes as part of the new WOOP Guest Foodie Series. For those that haven’t yet heard, WOOP is a food box delivery service that lives and breathes the mantra of ‘slow food fast’ – it’s for people who want to eat incredible food, but don’t have the time to prpepare it. The team will go one step further to make things easy for you. They’ll find the freshest ingredients and prep, parboil, dice and slice – even make dressings, sauces and marinades from scratch – so that you don’t have to.

What is the future of cooking?

I do think people need to keep cooking to make sure they’re in charge of their own health and futures, afterall we human beings are humans because we cook! So I think we’ll always want to get in the kitchen to handle food but when pressed for time, we naturally look for shortcuts and these need to be sustainable both health-wise and for our pockets. If we can outsoource some of our cooking to trusted companies yet still enjoy dining in our own homes then that’s a good solution.

Do you have a food philosophy?

Cook and eat simple, real food and make friends with herbs and spices  - they are the key to flavourful food that is cheap to make. Different cultures from around the world have known this since the beginning of time!  

What do you think would encourage more people to cook healthily?

 If they could be transported to their future self to see what will happen if they don’t!

What impact do you think recipe delivery services will have on people’s eating habits?

I’m hoping the increasing number of ready-made and delivery services may improve the eating habits and cut down on food waste in some households. The key will be for the companies providing these services to be morally responsible in terms of the quality of ingredients and the impact they have on the health of our citizens. Consumers need to be discerning in choosing which companies they use  - reading and understanding the labels is imperative.

What are some of your favourite ingredients to cook with?

Lemons, herbs and spices, NZ olive oil, butter and cream – all of these make my mouth sing!  

What’s going on in your life at the moment – any projects, passions or focuses?

I’m adoring my role as recipe and menu-maker for our readers at New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. I get so much great feedback from cooks all over NZ who cook from our pages and I’m happy to be providing them with easy meal and baking ideas that are simple to reproduce in their own kitchens. I regularly travel to feed my creativity for food and most often I go to Indonesia as I love their approach to food – aromatic, punchy, fresh and fabulous!  This year I’m taking my first food and yoga tour to Bali and I’m so excited to show others my favourite places to eat there.

What’s your pet peeve in the kitchen?

Too many gadgets or too much unnecessary equipment and not enough cooking going on. I have a tiny, very basic 50’s kitchen, albeit with a magnificent new Belling range cooker (looks like an old Aga but better!) and I can cook anything and everything for one – 100 people in it as long as I’m organised.

Favourite international cuisine?

Impossible to say but anywhere that has a culture where good, real food is important and where cooking is valued is top of my list. Italy, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Middle Eastern cuisine…too hard to choose.

Thoughts on the phrase slow food fast?

What’s not to love as long as there’s no nasties in it : ) 

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