We could not be more excited to sit down with 2 of our favourite cooks to discuss their passions, local produce and journey to Food by Maya and Chelsea
Firstly, thank you for allowing us to step inside your kitchen! We would love to hear more about the journey to Food by Maya and Chelsea and how you both landed where you are today?
It sounds so corny, but our journey started in our grandmother's kitchens. Almost everyone in our family cooks. What started as a passion for delicious food slowly grew into a love for entertaining too, and the delight you feel when you feed the ones you love and get everyone together. Our love for food and all that it encompasses from a community sense grows year on year, and it is truly a blessing that we get to spend more time thinking about it and focusing on food than anything else as we grow our catering business.
A focus of Food by Maya and Chelsea is sourcing local and seasonal produce. We could love to hear where this decision stems from.
Again, we inherited our Nona’s obsessive focus on quality ingredients, and how to carefully prepare them, often through a family recipe that’s been passed down or through culinary traditions that were taught to us very young. So much of Italian cooking - our favourite type! - is based around a celebration or a time of year, which means it is almost always in line with seasonal produce.
The amount of effort it takes to grow fruit and vegetables is incredible, and we absolutely love going to the markets, finding out what is growing well and often in abundance, and formulating a recipe or meal around those ingredients. It is so taken for granted that we’re able to walk into a supermarket and buy tomatoes all year round!
We’ve also recently started nurturing a vegetable patch and extensive garden out at our farm, west of Byron Bay, and it’s given us an extra level of appreciation for the farmers who pour so much love into their produce… it’s hard work, but we’re enjoying trying out a whole new realm of farm-to-table cooking!
Tell us more about the tailored menus you put together for each special event. Where do you seek inspiration from and how do you choose what to cook?
We really envision what we want the table to look like based on the style of the event. We then draw inspiration from what is currently in season and pick a few key ingredients to be the hero, ensuring they suit the event, and work from there.
Throughout winter in Australia, our dinner parties move from outdoor BBQs to comfort food and indoor gatherings. What are your top tips for creating the perfect atmosphere for a winter dinner party?
A great playlist - ideally old-school Italian music, teamed with a nice, cosy table setting with mixed and matched tableware. Lots of red wine, obviously, and sharing food family style, with guests serving up from the middle of the table. It’s amazing how the concept of sharing food brings people together, starts a conversation and often ends in laughter.
Bonus points if you can have a fire crackling away in the corner or in a fire pit outside for some post dinner chats.
What must haves can we find in your kitchen or featured on your tablescape?
The Marloe Marloe spoon rest is such a favourite for when we’re cooking saucy foods (see: always), to stop ourselves getting sauce everywhere. We also love our Marloe Marloe Stevie Vase which is the perfect vessel for flowers in the middle of the table, either paired with other vases and candles for a longer table or alone for a more intimate dinner.
Our other musts are a good cooking knife (non-negotiable), Caputo Italian Flour (we need an endless supply), and Golden Groves Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Maya & Chelsea’s Ricotta Gnocchi
1 ½ cups of ricotta (get the one that comes in the sieve, as it needs to be dry)
3 Egg yolks
1 cup 00 flour
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt & Pepper
Mix the ricotta and egg well with a spoon until well combined.
Add flour, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt & pepper and almost the whole nutmeg finely grated (we personally love nutmeg so don’t hold back)
Mix with your hands until just combined (it will feel really crumbly but that’s normal) shape it into a ball then squash down to create a disc. Cut the disc into 4 quarters, taking each quarter use the palms of your hand to roll each section out into a log. Cut gnocchi with a butter knife to desired thickness.
Cook gnocchi in boiling salted water until they float to the top, grate extra Parmigiano and nutmeg over the top. Serve with your favourite sauce and a glass of wine.