We sat down with the beautiful Joanna Cooper, author of the Our Tamarama Kitchen Cook Book, to find out a little more about her amazing recipes and where her passion for cooking came from. Joanna takes us into the magical beachside suburb of Sydney’s Tamarama, where creating healthy, wholesome and delicious food is made easy. Reflecting her Chinese and Australian heritage, her food philosophy is one of balance and harmony, using whole, natural ingredients.
How would you describe the aesthetic and inspiration of your book?
The aesthetic of our book is simple, effortless and delicious food with a focus on using whole ingredients. My food philosophy is based loosely on Chinese medicine principles of eating foods that put your body in the best position to fight illness and disease.
Our book is printed on a beautiful, uncoated paper and contains 5 ribbon markers to keep track of your favourite recipes. It has a cloth spine, with the front and back covers printed on a thick, natural cardboard. We chose these paper stocks to create an earthy, natural feel. We deliberately left the cover un-laminated so that over time, it would age with the love of frequent use.
The inspiration of our book came about through my cooking classes. I use to teach from my home in Tamarama but when I gave birth to my third child, Felix, I had to stop. My friends and students all nagged me to write down all my recipes in the form of a cookbook. I loved the idea, so after speaking with Ness (photographer and designer of the book), we decided we should do it! I call this book my two-year love project as I wrote it in between Felix’s sleep times.
What are your hobbies?
I love developing new recipes and road testing them on my family and friends. You will often see me (actually, most of the time) in an apron, often with a tin of something I’ve made, offering up my goods to my neighbours and anyone who happens to be walking past.
I also love to exercise – I love pilates and soft sand running on Bondi Beach. I use to get up at 5am to do this, but unfortunately, with my little man still frequenting our bed at night, I can’t bring myself to get up that early anymore, however, that said, I am still up at 6am making the school lunches!!
My other passion is travel. I love travelling with my husband (who is a Kiwi) and my children. I experience great joy when my kids see something new for the first time. It’s magical. We took them to India at the end of last year and they absolutely loved it. It was a huge sensory overload on every level but they coped and my older two both said they wanted to live in the streets of Old Delhi. I love that.
Describe a typical day for you?
Hmmm, I think my typical day is very boring. I wake up at 6am, make the school lunches and then breakfast for the kids. At 7.30am with my three year old in tow, I take my eight-year old son (Casper) to school whilst my husband takes my daughter (Scarlett) to school. Once I’ve done that, Felix and I will go to Centennial Park and I will go for a run with him in the pram then take him for a play in the park. After that, it’s either an activity for Felix or running around doing jobs. Before I know it, it’s pick up for the older kids. In between all of that I will be at home in the kitchen making something yummy for dinner or trying my hand at something new.
What do you do to unwind after a busy day?
After a typical day and putting the kids to bed, I love to sit down, check my emails, watch the news whilst eating dinner with my husband and then go back to my emails, read, shower, then go to bed! I am afraid during mid week, it’s not that interesting.
This is a very hard question. There are so many foods that I really love. However, my perfect meal on the other hand, would be with my husband and a bunch of good friends, in a beautiful setting, with excellent wines and delicious food. The food can be simple or complicated, it doesn’t matter, provided it’s cooked with love, local sustainable produce and tastes delicious!
Favourite piece from the Superette offering?
Oh my, I love quite a few things, but if I were to narrow it down to two pieces, it would be (hands down) the Annie Bing Charlie Boots with Gold Studs to be paired with the Black Frame Le Skinny Leather Pants. The perfect look for winter.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
In my previous life before children, I worked as a corporate commercial lawyer for eight years.
What is the last thing you googled?
Our Tamarama Cook Book. RRP $79. Grab yourself a copy here.
*All photos taken by Vanessa Rowe