A sustainable kitchen garden – making a menu from your mulch

A sustainable kitchen garden Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique with freshly picked vegetables

The following guest blog post is by Dominique Rizzo from Pure Food Cooking, Channel 10’s “Ready Steady Cook” and “The Circle”…

“A sustainable kitchen garden – Making a menu from mulch” was originally published at 1 Million Women some years ago.

 

 

Life is busy!  I feel that this year is flying past with the blink of an eye. When I am out and about I often get asked what I cook at home and am often embarrassed to say that I indulge in the simplest of cooking and quite often live on vegetable soups, loads of grilled, poached or baked seafood’s, and fabulously fresh salads and vegetable dishes made with ingredients that I manage to pick from my brothers garden next door…. my little patch of herb and vegetable paradise is in the making.

Most of us are doing our best to grow our own little patch of produce and it’s wonderful if you are just managing to have only a couple of pots of herbs as gardening as I have found out does require a little or even a lot of effort to reap the benefits.

Working in my own sustainable kitchen garden I have come up with some great ideas on how to make the most out of what you grow, avoid wastage and even save money. Fresh herbs are fantastic to use in all cooking, salads, drinks and even desserts and tend to be very seasonal so when they come on take advantage of the abundance of these few simple ideas.

Using the harvest from your sustainable kitchen garden:

Herbs

  • Blend your herbs in a food processor with a little oil and freeze in ice cube trays, remove when frozen and then store in plastic bags or plastic containers, use the cubes to flavour soups, sauces, stir-frys or even to add to a dressing of olive oil, vinegar and a squeeze of lemon. Any combination of herbs are ideal for tossing with steamed vegetables, dressing steamed or baked fish, chicken or seafood or mixing through boiled potatoes with a little mayonnaise, low-fat yoghurt or sour cream.
  • Try making pesto’s with a variety of different nuts and of course some sharp parmesan, this can also be frozen and is a great pasta sauce standby.
  • Make your own fresh dried herbs, nothing like what you buy in the supermarket and are easily done by placing them onto a baking tray and allowing them to sit in a very low oven of about 40 – 50 overnight. Simply, scrunch up the herbs and store them in jars.

Lettuces are fantastically easy to grow and if you are not on top of them they soon start to flower, so get in while the leaves are young and sweet and use the leaves for wonderfully fresh salads. You can also lightly steam them and dress with olive oil and lemon or sauté the leaves with a little butter, garlic, prosciutto or bacon and top with toasted fresh breadcrumbs for a delicious side.There is always lettuce soup, a quick light soup combining garlic, onions, lettuce, homemade chicken stock, simmered until the onions are softened and garnished with fresh parsley and a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt.

Home grown tomatoes have the most amazing flavour, they make great fresh sauces and keep well packed into sterilised jars, tomato and chilli jam makes a great gift for you chilli-loving friends and helps you get stuck into that chilli bush you have full of that fiery flavour. Tomato, apple and rosemary jelly is superb as a spread on fresh scones or pikelets and ideal as an accompaniment to sandwiches and of course a kitchen is not home without a spiced tomato relish, it is a must in any one’s fridge or pantry great served with cold meats, barbecued meats, on sandwiches or tossed through chopped vegetables with a little oil before roasting tomato relish.

Sustainable kitchen garden Chef Dominique Rizzo -lemon relish

Lemons make fresh and vibrant table decorations piled high in glass vases with fronds of rosemary or thyme, squeeze the juice and zest the skin and freeze for use in drinks, homemade lemonade, lemon curd is delicious and easy to throw together for a country breakfast served with pancakes or spooned onto tartlets for a delightful afternoon tea with friends. Lemon zest and juice is perfect for adding to dressings, marinades, baking, and is ideal blended with garlic and fresh herbs rubbed into lamb, fish, or chicken.

Preserved lemons are quite expensive but very easy to make. Wash your lemons and then make a cut through the middle and then into quarters keeping the lemon intact. Pack each of the lemons with rock salt then fit them into your sterilised jar, I love adding, peppercorns, a stick of cinnamon, a bay leaf, some cloves and a star anise for a real middle eastern flavour. Alternate the jar with salt-filled lemons and more rock salt then fill the jar with lemon juice until the lemons are covered. Secure the lid tightly then sit in a dark place for up to 7-8 months. These make well received Christmas gifts, or just a thank you to a friend and why not wrap a little preserved lemon recipe for a wonderful Moroccan salad or a tagine, around the jar.

Sustainable kitchen garden Chef Dominique Rizzo - Fennel and lemon relish

One of my other favourite recipes is for my divine lemon and fennel relish , it is an amazing accompaniment to fish, chicken, pork or lamb and goes beautifully with cheese, or tossed with freshly steamed asparagus or beans for a zesty side dish, this relish also makes good use of that excess fennel which tends to grow endlessly.

For a sustainable garden to work for you, you need to use it and keep on using it. So grab those empty jars that I know you have stored away for a rainy day and start cooking. The gift of food is something very special and is always well received from my family who have everything they need in the material sense and love eating. Receiving a basket or jar of homemade goodies from anyone for me is a real treat, you know that a lot of love and thought has gone into each and every mouthful.

Footy Food - Maroon Festival 2017 Dominique Rizzo

Footy Food

Sales of pies and chips are skyrocketing in the football season.

For the fans maybe, but that is not Footy Food for the premium Maroon State of Origin team.

 

That’s the tip from the experts. Our Deadly Choices stars Nathan Appo and Steve Renouf and Brandi Alberts shared their tips on “Good Quick Tukka” at the Maroon Festival on Sunday 28th May 2017. Now Rugby League players are into healthy, wholesome food, balancing protein and vegetables and fats that sustain the players’ energy levels for peak on-ground performance.

 

Footy Food - Maroon Festival 2017 Nathan Appo, Steve Renouf Brandi Alberts, Dominique Rizzo

 

 

The insider tips from Rachel Thaiday and Kayla Boyd on “Fueling the Athlete” in their families, are all about healthy choices for breakfast, preparing tasty high protein, low carb options like avocado and bacon, omelettes and lots and lots of chicken. Commercial fruit juices and breakfast cereals are out, fresh vegetables and fruit are in. These Maroon’s stars eat healthily to sustain their peak fitness levels throughout training sessions and at the games.

 

Footy Food - Maroon Festival 2017 Kayla Boyd, Rachel Thaiday, Lisa Carlaw, Dominique Rizzo, Sarah Wills

These are my healthy diet choices too and it is this nourishing pure food that is a specialty at my restaurant, Putia Pure Food Kitchen where our athletic, sporty customers come in after training for their high protein, low carb breakfasts opting for the Putia big breakfast or Omelette of roasted cauliflower or house-smoked salmon with poached egg and salad.

 

While healthy foods are the game changer in fueling the mighty Maroon State of Origin squad physically and mentally for those gruelling football games, pies and chips once in a while for the fans may not be such a bad thing.

 

Footy Food - Maroon Festival 2017 Dominique Rizzo

#Maroon Festival #qldr #Rugby League #State of Origin 2017

 

Kicking off the Maroon Festival with Dominique Rizzo

 

Catch Dominique Rizzo on the Health and Wellbeing Stage at the Maroon Festival with some of your favourite league stars and their families at the South Bank Cultural Forecourt, South Brisbane on Sunday 28th May 2017.

It’s a special day for all of the Maroon’s fans.   Everyone will be there! Proud Queenslanders supporting their mighty XXXX QUEENSLAND MAROONS TEAM leading into the 2017 State of Origin series.

Dominique is a natural fit as the host to this exciting family fun day, as she is a born and bred Queenslander who loves the rugby league Queensland spirit and loves sharing her tips on eating well for a healthy, energetic lifestyle. Talking about cooking for healthy kids, lunch box ideas and fueling the athlete comes naturally to her as these are everyday topics in her cooking classes at her restaurant.   Join Dominique as she introduces football stars, TV football personalities and the gorgeous partners of some of the team, leading into the highlight of the day – the arrival of the 2017 XXXX QUEENSLAND MAROONS TEAM.

Dominique is renowned for sharing her passion for delicious, healthy, nutritious food creating taste sensations using fresh, quality locally sourced and sustainable produce at Putia Pure Food Kitchen her restaurant in Brisbane. Organic vegetables, herbs and flowers, grown in Putia garden, enhance the menu.

Known for her popular appearances on Channel 10’s Ready Steady Cook and as host on Yes Chef, Dominique’s talent extend beyond the world of TV for writing her cookbook “My Taste of Sicily”, hosting corporate events and cooking demonstrations as well as picturesque eat-and-discover trips to the Mediterranean countries of Europe.

For the program of Sunday’s events go to Maroon Festival.

On the day, tag your photos #MAROONFESTIVAL,

#Maroon Festival #qldr

Easter Dove

Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove), is a soft, sweet, traditional Italian bread. Colombo is like Panettone (the traditional Christmas bread– but without the candied fruits. Colomba sets itself apart by being baked into a pigeon-shaped form; its texture is a moist, buttery, bready cake topped with a sugary almond icing. Fluffy, moreish and melt-in-the-mouth.

The dove shape is to symbolize new life in Christ, the resurrection, and the Easter message. It was a Milanese baker Angelo Motta, who popularised panettone at the beginning of the 20th century, who created the Colomba Pasquale. Instead of the dome or cupola-shape of the traditional Christmas panettone he turned it into a dove of peace for Easter. As well as the shape, he changed the recipe, taking out the raisins and adding a little something extra – amaretto. The rich, springy sponge is pricked with cubes of candied orange peel and topped with crunchy sugar and almonds.

Both breads are fantastic, traditionally eaten fresh and in winter warmed in the oven or near an open fire. Colombo and Panettone are bought wrapped in clear plastic bags and boxed in often elaborate colourful boxes depicting their shape and also an image of what the centre looks like. It can be purchased from many delicatessens and some bakeries that specialise in Italian breads.

If you are a fan of the light and buttery French brioche then the Panettone or Colomba might just be your Italian counterpart.

Now I have not used Colombo in this recipe but I did have some panettone left over from my own Italian celebrations, I decided to put together this decadent dessert or breakfast dish. I say breakfast or dessert as it would work in both genres. So with the use of some simple ingredients, Sicilian sweet Marsala wine and an healthy appetite here is my recipe.

View the recipe for Toasted Panettone with Marsala caramelised apples, Lindt chocolate and vanilla ice cream Recipe

Food Waste at Home

Have you ever thought about food waste and what you might throw out each week?

Well Griffith University are asking us to to do just that with their pilot project Waste Not Want Not.  In a Nine News interview with Mia Glover yesterday, Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele discussed how much food each week we waste and what we can all do to avoid throwing food away.

As a Chef, I’m always looking at ways to avoid food waste. This campaign has allowed me to develop some simple and tasty recipes for Queenslanders to turn ingredients they may already have on hand or leftover from a previous meal into something great.

If you would like to find out more about the Waste Not Want Not program, how to save money while helping the environment check out my blog from last week here.

Waste not want not – food waste

As a chef, it is part our job to order each week what the kitchen needs, maintain stock levels and make sure that no ingredient goes to waste. As our lives get busier and busier how do we at home make sure that we are not wasting the excess food from the shopping two days ago that wasn’t completely used in last night’s dinner? The answer, planning. Yes, a little bit of planning can go a long way and save you time and money!

Did you know Australian households dispose of $5.2 billion worth of food annually and this is estimated to grow. Food waste costs the city money and impacts the wider environment through food production, transport, waste-collection and landfills generating methane.

Most of household food waste is avoidable and one way to bring about change and reduce waste is to start with food wasted in the home. This week I am involved with The Waste Not Want Not Campaign, a pilot behaviour change project developed by Social Marketing @ Griffith, in collaboration with Redland City Council, Griffith University and supported by Stockland Shopping Centre, Cleveland.
I have developed a range of recipes to support the campaign to help give people at home tasty ideas on how their leftover food can be turned into something new. Yes, no spaghetti bolognese four nights in a row!

Top tips:

  • Create a menu plan – Know when you are going to be home during the week and plan the meals for those days. You can create the weekly menu plan around some of the pantry items you already have in stock. Are there a few items already in the fridge that can also be turned into creative meals?
  • Make a Shopping list– Don’t go to the supermarket without one and don’t buy if it is not on your list. Remember you have a plan!
  • Food Storage – find out  how to store your fresh food properly so that it keeps for longer. If you do make too much for one meal, take the rest to work for lunch the next day or freeze for another meal in the future.
    Use leftover food for another meal – If the stir-fry recipe you are making requires only 1/2 cup of broccoli but you bought a whole head, make sure you use the rest of the broccoli in a meal or in a salad later in the week.

These top tips can help you reduce food spoilage, save you money by not overspending as well as help your local environment by reducing food waste.
If you would like to find out more come and see me at Stocklands Shopping Centre, Cleveland this week!
Keep an eye out next week for a tasty leftover recipe!!!

WHY YOU REALLY SHOULD BE EATING GLUTEN AND SIX OTHER ESSENTIAL EXPERT DIET TIPS by Delicious.

WHY YOU REALLY SHOULD BE EATING GLUTEN AND SIX OTHER ESSENTIAL EXPERT DIET TIPS by Delicious.

WHY YOU REALLY SHOULD BE EATING GLUTEN AND SIX OTHER ESSENTIAL EXPERT DIET TIPS by Delicious. - SIX ESSENTIAL EXPERT DIET TIPS Carbona by Gwneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow’s healthy carbonara

Do we really need to be gobbling Himalayan berries and bee pollen to be healthy? What about ditching carbs, gluten and meat? Lindy Alexander clears up some common food misconceptions.

Type “healthy eating” into Google and a whopping 60 million results pop up. Not exactly surprising when you consider that every week brings with it new studies, nutritional claims and trending ingredients that purport to be good for us.

Ideas about eating for wellbeing have changed notably says Kelly Donati, a gastronomy lecturer at William Angliss Institute in Melbourne. For Donati, the emphasis should be on the range of ingredients we eat.

“It’s a common misconception that health comes in a package and that individual ingredients are healthy or unhealthy,” she says.

We asked some of Australia’s most respected nutritionists, dieticians, academics and chefs to set the record straight on everyday food fallacies.

Meat is the best source of protein

“Fifteen to 20 per cent of a healthy diet should be comprised of protein,” says Bryce Edwards from Melbourne’s Transformer, a restaurant focused on plant-based cuisine. That protein doesn’t need to come from meat. Balanced vegetarian and vegan diets have been confirmed as nutritionally adequate by the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meat-free sources of protein include beans, pulses, legumes, eggs, yoghurt, nuts and quinoa.

It’s expensive to eat well

If you’re filling your trolley with acai berries, matcha powder, bee pollen, raw cacao, and spirulina, then your bank account might be taking a hit.

“When people decide to eat healthily, they think they have to get goji berries, coconut oil and chia seeds sourced from exotic places,” says Clare Collins, a professor in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle. “People think healthy eating costs a lot of money and they go back to eating takeaway.”

Over a third of the average Australian’s diet comes from food such as processed meat, sweets, ice cream, biscuits and cakes. Collins says the commitment starts with eating fewer ultra-processed foods.

“Buy less junk and eat less foods that have a whole bunch of chemical names or numbers in them,” she says. “These are energy-dense but nutrient-poor foods.” Eating what is in season is the cheapest way to eat well.

Your body needs to detox

“Your body has its own detoxing organs,” Collins says. “So as long as your liver is functioning and your kidneys are working, your body is doing its best to detox itself. The best way to boost it is to consume more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.”

Our ancestors didn’t eat grains or gluten so we shouldn’t either

“I don’t agree with the Paleo avoidance of grains, legumes and dairy,” nutritionist and dietician Dr Joanna McMillan says. “There is good evidence for all of these food types.”

Collins also advises against cutting out gluten, breads and cereals without a medical reason. “Whole grains have an independent ability to protect you from heart disease and bowel cancer,” she says. “You need basic wholegrain, nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body. If you don’t, you are likely to feel tired, cranky and you’re increasing your risk of chronic conditions.”

Eating well is complicated

“There are many versions of a healthy diet provided it is made up of whole foods,” says McMillan. Put simply, that means no or minimal junk foods (such as processed meats, sweetened drinks, biscuits, fried fast food, cakes and other sweet treats) and refined grains (foods made predominantly from white flour).

“You can include meat or be vegan, but we need plentiful plant foods, particularly vegies,” adds McMillan.

Grazing is good

We eat far too often and this affects hunger and satiety at mealtimes, according to McMillan. “I recommend only having a snack if you’re truly hungry and there are more than two hours until mealtime.”

If you can’t wait, opt for something simple like a handful of nuts or a bowl of berries and natural yoghurt sprinkled with chia seeds or pepitas.

Fast food is bad for you

Not the new kind. Chef and owner of Putia Pure Food Kitchen in Banyo, Queensland, Dominique Rizzo, says the best kind of fast food is vegetable-based, seasonal and delicious. “I love tucking into a smashed avocado with fresh lemon, chopped cucumber, coriander and diced tomato on linseed and vegetable crackers,” she says.

For Bondi chef and The Bucket List owner, Tom Walton, fresh rice paper rolls, lettuce leaf wraps and seasonal fruits are go-to fast foods. “There is no magic trick to healthy food,” he says.

“It really comes down to eating a balance of good quality, nutritious foods that are minimally processed.”

“Fill up on life” with Chef Dominique Rizzo at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre Launch of their New Menu

 

The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre was recently named the World’s Best Convention Centre by the International Association of Congress Centres and best in the world for Food & Beverage, receiving double the ratings of other international convention centres.  With such an impressive reputation, The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre celebrated the launch of their new menu  “Fill up on Life”.

Master of ceremony at the event was Chef Dominique Rizzo, widely known for her quest to share her passion for healthy, pure food not only at Putia Pure Food Kitchen, her restaurant in Brisbane but all around Queensland and beyond.

Chef Dominique Rizzo gives a sneak preview of her experience at the spectacular promotion of the Centre’s new menu and food concepts, offering arguably the best produce Australia and Queensland have to offer.

Brisbane Convention Centre - Fill up on life food

With this launch, the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) celebrated a giant leap forward in convention catering by now offering mainstream healthy dishes and options to people with dietary needs. Gone are the days of heavier, traditional convention food, instead welcoming in a new style focusing on nourishing, energy-giving foods prepared in a bespoke kitchen tailored to meet guests’ special dietary requirements; implemented in response to the high demand for dietary requests at 20% to 30% of all meals.   In another first for convention catering, the leading direction at BCEC comes from the wonderful influence, knowledge and experience of Queensland Ambassador Chef, David Pugh, recipient of many hats for his acclaimed Restaurant Two.

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre -Chef Martin Latter, Chef Dominique Rizzo, Chef David Pugh

Choosing Chef Dominique Rizzo to host the launch was a natural fit as these same principals underpin both her menu that she offers at Putia Pure Food Kitchen and their menu at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, promoting a “nourish mentality” using locally sourced, sustainable, seasonal produce. Dominique defines the convention centre’s new boutique menu as one crafted around Queensland flavours and nutrients that will feed the type of energy and atmosphere that participants want at every stage of their conference or event. This menu, for the health conscious, provides the necessary nutrition to focus minds and energy to keep going through those long conference afternoons.

 

Brisbane Convention Centre - Fill up on life

So too, good nutrition is the key to the menu choices at Putia, where there are sensational taste sensations for those who are gluten free, dairy free, egg free, vegan and vegetarian. That is why Chef Dominique Rizzo and the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre make a great combination, sharing the same values when it comes to nourishing your mentality and filling up on life.

Swordfish Involtini by Chef Dominique Rizzo on SBS

Chef and author Dominique Rizzo shares her recipe for swordish involtini with SBS Radio’s Matteo Rubbettino.

Swordfish Involtini - the Swordfish Involtini dish

This Swordfish Involtini recipe is a rendition of the sarde beccafico, stuffed baked sardines, although this is my version using swordfish and the similar delicious stuffing of garlic, pine nuts, raisins, pecorino cheese and onions.

Sarde beccafico is a typical Sicilian dish made of fresh sardines filled breadcrumbs, olive oil, pine nuts and raisins. Beccafico, which is a little bird similar to a quail, literally means beak figs.

Recipe for Swordfish Involtini by Chef Dominique Rizzo

Ingredients: 

  • 520 grams of swordfish
  • olive oil
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp raisins, chopped
  • 4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small red chilli
  • rich tomato sauce
  • mixed salad leaves
  • 1¼ cup pecorino cheese

Method: 

  1. Cut the swordfish into thin slices and flatten. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Place the breadcrumbs and parsley in a bowl.
  3. To prepare the filling, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frypan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Transfer the onion and garlic to a bowl, along with the pine nuts, raisins, flat-leaf parsley and chilli, and toss to combine.
  4. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  5. Place ½ tbsp of filling onto a piece of swordfish. Carefully roll up the swordfish. Repeat with the remaining swordfish and filling. Dip the rolls in the seasoned oil. Coat in the breadcrumbs. Fry in hot oil for 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a baking tray and bake in preheated oven for 7 minutes.
  6. Top with pecorino and serve with tomato sauce and a mixed salad.

This recipe serves 4, takes 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook.  Skill level is easy.

If you would like more recipes and tips like this, then follow Chef Dominique Rizzo on her YouTube Channel and at  her “Putia Pure Food Kitchen” channel.

For more of Dominique’s recipes go to her cookbook “My Taste of Sicilly” http://dominiquerizzo.com/product/my-taste-of-sicily-by-dominique-rizzo/

Swordfish Involtini - Dominique's Cook Book

Dominique’s Cook Book

If this recipe whets your appetite for more of Dominique’s food, come to Putia Pure Food Kitchen for pure food dining and cooking class experiences.  What’s on the menu? Go to http://putiapurefood.com.au/current-menu/

Follow on Instagram: Putiapurefoodkitchen

Facebook: Putia Pure Food Kitchen

This recipe is featured on SBS at http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/swordfish-involtini.

At home with chef Dominique Rizzo

Excellent planning and the right appliances are key in this Tuscan-inspired kitchen, designed by Lee Hardcastle of Enigma Kitchens for chef, author and presenter Dominique Rizzo.

At home with chef Dominique Rizzo gives an insight into how sustainable materials and practices are a key part of her home life.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique in her home kitchen

Alex: Dominique and Lee, can you give us a tour of this kitchen?

Dom: As a chef,I really wanted a kitchen that,  had everything at my fingertips and all I needed to do was turn around, bend over or stretch my arm to reach something. I don’t like walking very far to have to put something away or grab a utensil. With Lee’s assistance, we created a space that absolutely works perfectly for me. I can unpack the dishwasher without travelling far, being almost able to put everything away in arm’s reach. Because my kitchen space is quite small and in essence I have no dining room, the kitchen had to really double as a dining table, so my centre bench works perfectly, really opening up the space.

Lee: I knew the available space was limited; therefore I simply had to make the most out of each section of Dom’s kitchen. The design is compact yet not tight to work in. The overall theme ties in magnificently with Dom’s heritage and busy lifestyle. The finishes are low maintenance and appealing. There’s a sense of timelessness with the colour tones, features and natural stone.

Alex: What special features have been included?

Dom: Easy push-to-open doors, my three-way integrated recycling bins, (I have chickens, compost, general rubbish and recycling all in easy pull-out bins) – I love these! Large deep drawers were a must as I have all sorts of plates, equipment for my food styling and recipe testing. I am amazed that in my old kitchen everything was always on top of itself and now I still have drawers with room to spare.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique and Lee Hardcastle

Lee: The use of genuine Farmers doors and components really sets the theme for this kitchen. I carefully selected profiles and detailed elements that would enhance the kitchen without overpowering the style. Although seemingly unusual, the ultra-modern integrated V-ZUG appliances are a big feature, which work well even with this classic style. Blum Aventos lift systems make the overhead cabinet sections a joy to use, and can stay open while cooking.

Alex: Dominique, what’s your favourite part of the design?

Dom: The benchtops are gorgeous and the space that I now have is amazing. I love that my ovens are all handy to use, with space to put trays or dishes when they come out of the oven. The colour of the cupboards has given the space so much light and has opened up the kitchen.

And Lee, what’s yours?

Lee: I would agree with Dom, the benchtops are something she’ll never get tired of; similarly, the Farmers exterior finish. I like the fact that even with the limited space, we’ve managed to fit so much into this design. There is a beautiful balance to the room with lower and upper sections combining well.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique's kitchen benches

Alex: There’s a really rustic country garden/provincial kitchen theme here. Was that your choice Dominique or something Enigma suggested?

Dom: I was overseas at the time and asked Lee to pick what he thought would work in the space, giving him a few details as to my specifications and the usage of the kitchen, also telling him what I wanted and what I wasn’t happy with in my old kitchen. I actually left it up to him to make the decisions. We did a bit of back and forth with photos and colours but I really just said “go for it”. I had seen kitchens that Lee had done and loved his work; also he loves to cook so I knew that he would have some great suggestions.

Lee: It was obvious that Dom’s new kitchen had to have character, be robust, and have a certain charm that expressed her style of cooking and way of life. Her backyard told me everything I needed to know. There are rows of herbs and vegies strategically planted in raised beds, fruit trees scattered about and an open chicken coop in one corner ­- I simply felt like I was visiting a Tuscan villa. Dom’s kitchen had to be an extension of her love for organic, natural flavours and ingredients.

Alex: Dominique, as a chef, a wonderful kitchen is clearly important to you. How do you make sure that your kitchen at home is as efficient as your one at work?

Dom: As I mentioned, for me I like everything to be at arm’s reach, having to walk to get a pan, utensils and put things away all takes time and when you are working in a busy kitchen you don’t have time to always look for things — my kitchen at home is a direct reflection of efficiency with everything at arm’s reach. I have a place for everything and I love an organised kitchen so space is really important as well as organisation and efficiency. Also my kitchen is really easy to clean with clean lines, and beautiful surfaces. I have fantastic appliances – a combi-steamer, self-cleaning oven, induction cooktop and steam dishwasher — what more could a chef want at home?

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique's overhead kitchen cupboards.

Alex: Is there a signature, much-loved dish you cook when you have guests?

Dom: I am forever inspired by the tours I escort to Italy and my cooking is inspired by the wonderful foods I eat while I am over there. I love using my combi-steamer to make a delicious baked fish and the Sicilian-inspired flavours of garlic, lemon, capers and fresh herbs of course blended with virgin olive oil. I serve this with roasted red tomatoes, and a delicious zucchini, mint and roquette salad with shaved pecorino cheese.

Alex: I find the kitchen is somewhere to unwind and enjoy being creative. What does the kitchen space mean to you both?

Dom: My kitchen space is my creative space, it’s where I relax, I think, I come alive through food, it’s the hub of my house and I love having people sitting at my main bench and chatting while I am cooking. I also can see to my beautiful garden from my kitchen and it feels like I am cooking outside.

Lee: A kitchen should always be a space that inspires and comforts us, not a space you can’t wait to leave. It’s all about cooking, entertaining and living. A good design will tell you a lot about the person who lives there and the rest of the home. To sit at a kitchen stool and feel unhurried, relaxed and at home, and to be continually excited over and over, day after day when working in your kitchen is a wonderful feeling. This is what I aim for throughout my design process.

Alex: Dominique, you place great emphasis on the importance of sustainable cooking. How do you make sure you cook in a sustainable way?

Dom: I recycle, I use my scraps for my chickens or compost, I have little or no wastage, using great appliances that are energy efficient helps that. Also I endeavour to use fresh non-packaged items when I can and love creating food that is sustainable, fresh, local and seasonal. It’s a testament to my Italian heritage; I live like that naturally.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique's kitchen

Alex: Is this something Enigma also places importance on, and what sustainable elements were introduced into the design of the kitchen?

Lee: The use of natural materials offers longevity and consideration for the environment. Superior design and construction methods also play a big part in sustainability; it means the kitchen won’t need replacing for many years. Small details such as sink size and appliance selection are in fact important too, as this can reduce water and electricity consumption.

Alex: What message would you give to those who want to bring more sustainability into their homes as well as on to their plates?

Dom: Look at your appliances and the space to ensure that it works efficiently; saving you time, money and energy. As for the food, choose “one-food” items: this is food that is what it is with no added fake or man-made ingredients.

Lee: Make the most of natural lighting and ventilation by arranging your kitchen design thoughtfully. Limit the amount of pantry shelving, or at least make all the shelving accessible, as this will only fill up with an abundance of food that may be later thrown away if not consumed. Think about your desired daily style of cooking and purchase appliances that cater to this; not ones that will assist you for the once-a-year type of meals.

Alex: What’s the top kitchen appliance you’d recommend home chefs invest in?

Dom: A combi-steamer oven, I have VZUG appliances and I cannot live without it [the combi-steamer]. It means I can steam and cook in the same appliance with a range of other key features that make cooking a breeze.

Lee: Agreed.

Alex: What advice can you both offer to home renovators looking to redo their kitchen? 

Dom: I would seek the advice of a kitchen designer and invest in a sturdy kitchen if you cook a lot. Look at storage carefully as it is something that I notice some kitchens lack and also make all your kitchen items easy to reach, find and store, it makes cooking a breeze and you will want to be in your kitchen.

Lee: Seeking a professional kitchen designer may initially seem to be an unnecessary expense but, if chosen well, this will prove to be an absolute blessing. A good designer will save you money and eliminate common mistakes. Consider how much you’re willing to invest, and make the most of this. Make a list of likes and dislikes; put together a scrapbook of anything that excites you. Don’t be pressured into signing a contract with a kitchen company unless you’re totally thrilled with the design, service and quality being offered. Ensure your designer is giving you options and suggestions that show creativity and experience, and that you’re convinced that the final design will offer the best possible outcome for your requirements.

Alex: Lee, what special tips can you give readers to make sure their kitchen renovation runs smoothly?

Lee: An experienced project manager is essential. He or she may be a cabinetmaker, a designer or an architect. This will make the process flow seamlessly and delete wasted time and costly errors.

 

This interview originally appeared in “Complete Home” at https://www.completehome.com.au/kitchens/at-home-with-dominique-rizzo-and-lee-hardcastle.html.