By: Bec Robertson
CEO & CO-FOUNDER
The kitchen is a place where we learn about food and life. Ali Daly (The Messy Cheffy) knows this better than anyone. Her motto to encourage confidence in the kitchen is “you mess it up, it’s not the end of the world.” This is also a great metaphor for life.
Originally from Ireland, Ali now lives in Queenstown cooking up a storm of vegetarian and plantbased food. She shares recipes and beautiful food content through her BLOG and Instagram.
As a meat free recipe developer and creator, Ali highlights the vibrant and appetising appeal of plantbased eating. Her work is full of mouth watering pictures and videos with recipe ideas and seasonal based eating tips. Her art college background shines through everything that she does in the culinary arts.
The best part is her behind the scenes content. She features stories of all the small details that go into creating her ideas and food. Many chefs share recipes, but not all of them give exclusive insights into what it’s like to be a chef, recipe developer and content creator.
In our interview below, Ali takes us into her world of cooking. You’ll come away wanting to rush to the local store for ingredients for carrot cake with lemon frosting, vegan gnocchi and waffles.
HB: How do new vegetarian recipe ideas come to you?
There are definitely many different influences for me. Since I moved to New Zealand, what is available is key. We are very seasonally dependent down here, which is great. It pushes us as chefs to create and look beyond.
I consider myself a very visual person. Before I studied culinary arts in Ireland, I went to art college. In my food creation, I try to combine to the two studies. Colour and texture is a huge influence in the dishes I choose to create. Vegetables provide us with so many colourful and appetising options. Grains, beans, starches and herbs – they all provide us with great textures too.
When I’m sitting down to think of a new menu item, this is what I’m doing. Visualising everything: available produce, flavours , colour, texture, of course dietary needs and the weather is a big influence too.
Sometimes, like everyone, I “hit the wall”. A block for inspiration. To get my thoughts flowing, I start to flick through magazines, books, search trending foods, think of great food memories, holidays.
The best though is speaking to others. There is nothing like it to get the juices flowing. Speaking with the other chefs where I work at Halo cafe in Queenstown is honestly a life saver sometimes. “Two heads are better than one”.
HB: What is the best way for a beginner to start cooking meals at home?
Just go for it. So many people say to me “oh really Ali I can’t cook” I believe everyone can cook. Don’t be afraid of what can go wrong. You mess it up, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re not confident, pick a simple recipe with not too many fancy ingredients and follow it step by step.
Get all your ingredients organised. Prep all the ingredients first and then cook. This will make things much easier.
HB: What is your favourite meal when you want delicious and nourishing in one bowl?
I get asked that a lot and honestly, I don’t have a favourite meal. The weather really influences my choice of food that I cook for myself at home. At the moment with the winter coming in strong, I’m all about handy hot pots and bean stews.
MORE INFO ⬇
Find amazing recipes from Ali.
Drool over mouth watering food videos created by Ali.
Find Ali cooking up a storm in the Halo restaurant kitchen.