Pour yourself a spritz, sit back and relax as we transport you to the most idyllic Italian inspired feast by talented home cook Jessica Nguyen (aka @jessica_nguyen_). Jess has been on our radar since the start of the year when she popped up on our feed with her super tasty, easy to follow recipes (absolutely perfect timing as we headed into lockdown). Today Jess shares a step by step recipe to create the most swoon worthy floral foccacia inspired by our Meadow White table linen, and shares her hot tips on styling the summer table of your dreams.
First up, thank you for being a bright spot of the a year that is otherwise a bit of a cluster f*ck. You’ve obviously been cooking for a long time, but 2020 was quite the turning point for you. Can you tell us about it?
Oh my absolute pleasure! So up until March this year I was working in the beauty industry as a Marketing and PR Manager. I was made redundant just as COVID-19 was announced as a pandemic. With everyone being forced to self isolate at home end of March, I decided to cook more and share all the dishes I’ve wanted to make as step-by-step recipes on my Instagram whilst trying to find a new job but accidentally, this paved the way for an unexpected career change and has now become my new career.
You’re in Melbourne, which has faced some extreme lockdowns this year as the world wraps it’s head around the best response to COVID-19. How has cooking helped you find some sense of normalcy in this crazy time, and what type of food (or alcohol!) do you find helps most?
I think lockdown has made people realise that cooking is a form of comfort, nourishment and love which is really how I’ve always seen it. I’ve always turned to cooking as a creative outlet and a way for me to unwind from a busy day or week, because its forces you to be present, get your hands a bit dirty and most of the time you generally end up with a tasty output that you can share with others.
Cooking some of my favourite dishes transports me to memories of wonderful holidays and destinations where I tried some of those dishes for the first time, so it’s also a form of escapism and lockdown longing which is why I think others have comfort in cooking during lockdown.
In terms of comforting food, anything indulgent with carbs so think pastas, breads like focaccia and roti, rice dishes etc. In terms of alcohol, I always pair the drink to the food I’m eating, so it might be a glass of Prosecco to celebrate, a fun cocktail like a margarita to go with a Mexican style dinner, a big bold glass of red wine to go with a French-style steak or a slightly sweet Riesling to go with some spicy Asian food.