Central Coast resident, the effervescent lovely comical Julie Goodwin is a rarity. Thus being a former reality lifestyle show contestant who continued on an ascending career as the first ever Australian MasterChef winner.
No looking back since that honour with multiple books, endless magazine columns and now an in-demand cooking school – all while juggling a family. Her new book is a simple ‘Essential Cookbook’ of recipes (out now through Hachette Publishing). It teaches one to boil an egg – yes, boil an egg!
You are one of the few reality show contestants or personalities that has had longevity after the show ends. What is the secret of your success since winning in 2009?
Julie Goodwin – Gosh, I can only do what I do with the people around me: family and the people who help me organise my calendar, everyone of my colleagues or publicists including the staff in my cooking school.
Going back to when you first applied for MasterChef, what are the memories of that and then going on to winning it?
Julie – I had been watching the UK version which was civilised and so British (laughs). But I truly didn’t know what it was going to involve, especially as I had three small children and a family business. If I had’ve known I had to live out of home for months, it might not have happened but kind of glad I did apply now (laughs). It was an incredible intense scary experience. Fun and inspiring and rewarding, all at once. To win was an enourmous privilege that came with great opportunities and experiences, just fantastic for the whole family.
Your new book is the Essential Cookbook with go-to recipes. What are a couple of your favourites featured?
Julie – If talking about easiness, it starts with the basic building blocks of cooking from scrambling or boiling an egg, all that kind of stuff. Highlighting different cuts of meat for different purposes, my favourite things in any of my books are the things you put all ingredients into a pot, put it on the table for all to share. Things like Osso Buco or Apricot Chicken Tagine, big hearty family food.
Are you telling me there are people who cannot boil an egg?
Julie – Yes totally! Absolutely there is. If you can’t cook at all, this book is the perfect go-to. Even if you can cook, there are some really great ideas in there that are family and friends-approved.
Do your family ever cook for you?
Julie – Indeed, life is busy so my husband and sons pitch in. As a basic life skill, I think people really should teach children how to cook.
In your opinion, are you happy that many fast-food establishments provide so-called healthier options?
Julie – It’s a little bit tricky because they offer the healthy options to look good but how many people truly walk into a fast-food outlet and order the salad? You still go in and order the burger, right. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring. If you’re cooking from scratch, you can make the adjustment you need to make for your own health requirements or taste. Nothing wrong with a hamburger you make at home with lean meat, fresh vegetables or salads. You decide not to put on four pieces of bacon, eggs, a block of cheese. It’s about making your own decisions knowing what you’re eating. Some places have ‘make your own’, that’s different but generally, fast-food outlets have offset healthy ingredients with unseen unhealthy-like sauces or dressings. Healthy food is food that allows you to make your own choice.
Tell me a little bit about your popular cooking school.
Julie – It’s called Julie’s Place in North Gosford and we run recreational classes on a variety of dishes. Recently we did a French Feast with, among other things, how to create a souffle, then we sat down and enjoyed it all with a glass of French champagne or wine. We do corporate events or function catering. Upcoming classes include Indian Feast and Thai Feast, it’s a pleasure to teach one and all.
How many shots did you pose for to create the glorious cover of your new book?
Julie – (laughs) I so didn’t want to be on the cover and almost refused to do it for the publishers saying it’s not important me appearing. (They) agreed but on the last day food photo shoot, I turn up alongside hair and make-up ready to go. They tricked me and took one with me and a Victoria Sponge and another with me and a Roast Chook, the Sponge won (Laughs).
Do you ever run out of recipes for new books?
Julie – Everywhere I look, everywhere I go, everything I eat provides inspiration for new ideas. Honestly, I don’t know as the world is a big place – lots of cuisines I’ve never tasted or cooked. You know I haven’t looked much into Polish food so that is definitely on my radar. Also Scandinavian too after having fish with a friend once, it was really interesting and different to what we have here.
When you eat other people’s food, do you secretly rate them or yell out an open opinion?
Julie – (laughs) No, how rude would that be. If somebody goes to the trouble to cook for me, I’m extremely grateful and blessed.
Have you ever thought about Julie’s Food Truck?
Julie – You read my mind Shane. Certainly, we would love to bring the food to the people in a fun way, only if I had time time between radio, writing for Women’s Weekly or creating cook books and the school. Maybe one day.
With an abundance of cooking related books around, what is it about yours that stands out?
Julie – In all my books, the commitment is to have success with the recipes, easy to find ingredients, understanding the method. If you follow the steps, you will get the food you’re looking for. Cooking or recipe writing is a trust thing – going to great lengths that mine work and they’re described in a way that’s easy to understand. Sometimes I’ll get my sons to cook from a recipe I’m writing and the questions they ask me through the process indicate to me I have left nothing out.
‘Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook’ is available now through HACHETTE Publishing.
Shane A. Bassett