I first came across Chef Valli Little’s work when I discovered delicious. magazine, soon after it launched, back in 2001. I immediately fell in love with this beautiful new food magazine, that contained accessible recipes for the home cook, which was something lacking in the Australian food magazine market at the time.
Since then delicious. has become one of Australia’s moved beloved food magazines, which is in no small part to Valli Little’s work, as she’s been the food director since 2001. In addition, Valli creates up to 60 recipes every month for the magazine.
Clearly passionate about food, Valli is also the author of several cookbooks under the delicious. banner including Home Cooking, Simply the Best, More Please, Quick Smart Cook, Faking It, Love to Cook, Love to Eat and my personal favorite: Delicious. Love to Cook.
Love to Cook is packed with 140 of Valli Little’s recipes all aimed at eating well everyday, with approachable and accessible recipes without hard to find ingredients. Each recipe is complemented with stunning photography and food styling.
Valli was kind enough to spare a few moments and share a little about her passion for food, her philosophy and a little kitchen wisdom.
An Interview with Chef Vallie Little
What food can’t you live without and why?
I can’t live without eggs. They are the perfect breakfast. I love an omelette for lunch and one of my favourite desserts is a simple baked egg custard.
What inspires your cooking?
Good produce especially growing my own. I love going to the farmers markets and engaging with the growers and of course travel always inspires me.
Describe your kitchen to readers. What do you especially love about it?
The heart of my kitchen is my wonderful LaCanche french oven. I love it and it has never let me down. I have lots of bench space. For the first 8 years of delicious magazine we did all the shoots at my house before the studios were built so I needed plenty of workspace and natural light.
What is your favorite kitchen appliance or utensil that you just couldn’t live without?
I love my Kitchen Aid and honestly use it every day. I just got the pasta attachment which is amazing so we are eating a lot of fresh pasta at the moment.
Describe your cooking routine? Do you plan your meals in advance or improvise ?
I like to plan meals especially when I am entertaining but most of our midweek meals are quite spontaneous depending what is ready in the garden and what I have in the fridge.
Do you listen to music or watch TV when you cook?
I have to admit when I am testing at home I often have the food channel on the TV but I also like listening to music especially opera. I find it so relaxing
What vegetarian dish do you make better than anyone else?
My best vegetarian dish is eggplant parmigiana . It was taught to me by an Italian and has so many layers of flavor. The best thing about it is it’s just as good cold the next day.
What are your favorite magazines or cookbooks and why?
What can I say- of course it’s delicious. I have been involved for 14 years and have loved being part of such a great success story. My favorite cookbook is anything by Nigel Slater. I love his recipes but even more I love the wonderful introductions and stories that proceed them. Sometimes I feel I am actually sitting there in his garden with him listening to him speak.
I love that you say, in the introduction to Feel Good Food, that you weren’t committed to a brutal food regimen, because you love food too much. I’m exactly the same. So tell me what is your feel good food? What food do you turn to when you are feeling rundown and in need of a little TLC?
It really does depend on my mood. I love warming soups and braises. When I am in need of a little TLC then I can’t go past some home made broth. I cook mine for 48 hours then keep it in the freezer. I defrost small quantities add ginger, chili lime juice and fish sauce and some fresh herbs like fresh mint and coriander. It does the trick every time.
You also mention in the introduction to Feel Good Food that you made vegetables the heroes on your plate more frequently. What were your favorite vegetable/vegetarian recipe discoveries?
I love Celeriac either baked whole or shredded in a salad . I have always loved brussel sprouts but since I discovered roasting them I love them even more. I wasn’t a fan of kale in the beginning but I have grown to like it and don’t get me started on kale chips. I could eat the whole tray.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to transition to a healthier way of eating?
Keep a food diary so you can keep track of what you are eating. Buy a smaller dinner plate. Grow lots of fresh herbs and invest in some good quality curry pastes and Asian sauces to add depths of flavor to your cooking.