We chatted with Audra Morrice about her recent cookbook release:
Tell us about your new cookbook?
Cook & Feast is a celebration of feasts. I’ve created dishes from my heritage and also blended in flavours from other cultures experienced through my travels. The idea of feasting is all about bringing people together. I am a big believer that food has the immense power of connecting people, breaking down barriers and giving great joy.
I’ve always encouraged people to get back into the kitchen to enjoy creating meals, so the recipes in the book provides ideas for everyday meals and also allows one to create feasts for dinner parties. I share some helpful hints and suggestions on planning a dinner party, how to create the right menus, how to plan and structure the days leading up to the dinner with as little stress as possible. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting yourself organized so that you can enjoy time with your guests rather than slaving in the kitchen.
Describe your style of cooking
I often describe my style as eclectically Asian. I love the food of my heritage. Being Singaporean of Indian and Chinese descent, having grown up amongst food of other cultures, I’m very familiar with flavours from the region. I love exploring other cultures, how people cook, what they cook and often find a way to connect them. I love food that can be shared. It’s just a joyous way to eat.
Having lived in Australia for the past 20 years, I have a great love and respect for local produce. Until you learn to eat seasonally, you really don’t realize what fresh unadulterated seasonal produce can taste like. It’s a real joy!
How did you get interested in cooking?
I suspect cooking was always in my blood. My mom and her mother were great cooks. My dad’s parents were great cooks. It was inevitable that I acquired those genes too. I spent much of my childhood with mom in the kitchen and all that time watching and learning has definitely paid off. I now understand all the different little things she used to share with me. Living away from home without mom was when it all came together for me. That was when I spent time cooking in the kitchen on my own, exploring markets, restaurants, trying recipes and so on.
What’s your favourite way to cook at home?
One of my favourite meals to cook at home is teppanyaki or steam boat. It’s so much fun and everyone gets in on the action. We often have friends over for this and everyone loves it, not to mention overeats and dinner goes on forever. It’s definitely a social event and you don’t have to worry about people not liking certain items because there is so much to choose from. I’ve written up recipes in Cook & Feast for both of these. You’ll thank me when you give it a go!
What was it like to appear on Masterchef?
MasterChef Australia literally changed my life. From proposing fibre optic cables and data network solutions to creating recipes and cooking for people, I have not looked back since I dived into the food world 7 years ago.
Now I judge for MasterChef Singapore having also judged for MasterChef Asia, I feel like I am giving back and helping to inspire people who want to change their carrier paths or simply just want to do something to challenge themselves. You’re never too young or too old to make a change. If you love it, go for it! Life is unpredictable so explore the unknown and go on an adventure. That’s what I constantly tell my kids!
What’s involved in being an ambassador for the Singapore Tourism Board?
Whilst I’ve lived away from Singapore for many years, I travel back very often and at the heart of it all, I am hugely passionate about my heritage and my culture. Sharing the great things about Singapore is second nature to me. There is so much about Singapore that people still don’t know about. It really is so much more than just Orchard Road and Chilli Crab. So I often share officially or unofficially all the places I go to whether it’s the best place for coffee, tea, laksa, seafood, local hawker indulgences, quirky clothing, kitchen gadgets, ice-cream and so on.
A couple of years ago, I created a Food Tour for Accor Plus members. Basically we ate for 4 days and 3 nights straight. I shared stories of my childhood and show them the various cultural diversities through food. People loved it. They really got to know the culture and the people through the cuisines. It was an immense success. I want people to visit Singapore and leave having had a brilliant time and wanting more! It’s really not difficult to be an ambassador when you love the place and it’s heritage.
How’s your catering business and cooking classes going?
I do a fair bit of corporate catering and bring unique Asian flavours so clients love it. On a more personal level, I have a ton of wonderful private dining clients who open their homes to me and invite me to cook for their friends and families, however large or intimate their events are. They love the Singaporean/mod Asian cuisine I cook for them. Not only that, they learn about the origin of some of the dishes I cook and also learn about new and exciting cultural practices. Many share their celebrations with me and trust me to create beautiful meals for them. I’ve been apart of weddings, 40th, 50th, 60th and 70th and so on. It’s really quite a humbling and amazing position to be in and at the heart of it all, I am a people person so many clients have become friends. So yes, it’s all going smashingly well!
I run classes on an ad hoc basis, these days it’s when I’m not travelling or have events on. I do run private sessions as clients request for them. At some stage, I would love to have my own place, where people can come and learn to cook, relax, have fun and also dine!
What’s next for you?
Well, being a big fan of creating experiences to remember and coupled with that, my absolute love for travel and culture, look out for a series of culinary and wellness retreats or travel experiences in amazing places! If you live and breath food and want that fun, exciting and meaningful experience, drop me a line at email@example.com, I’ll keep you posted on what’s coming up!