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Interview: Julie Biuso

Julie Biuso is rapidly becoming known as one of New Zealand’s top chefs and her fame is already growing internationally. With an array of awards and numerous books out already, it’s no wonder that this talented Aucklander is getting ready to battle it out in the finals of the 2014 Gourmand awards in China, against the likes of Jamie Oliver and Neil Perry.

In a recent conversation, Biuso offered a glimpse into the life behind the recipes. Famous for her simple yet deeply satisfying cuisine, her most recent cookbook, Julie Biuso At Home, is sure to be a winner with a whopping 270 recipes and a focus on fresh produce and healthy eating.

“I want to keep people cooking, and I want to keep them healthy,” she explains, “So really it’s about cooking from scratch, as that’s the way you’ll get all the nutrients that are naturally in food.”

The book has a range of vegetable and salad recipes, but also every aspect of the menu, including mid-week essentials and special occasion fare as well.

But can Biuso’s latest compete with the endless number of cookbooks that seem to appear daily on the shelves? She certainly seems to think so.

“It is really about the content. You can give your book all the bells and whistles but if it doesn’t have good content it won’t woo buyers. Good books to me are a lively representation of the writer, and are packed with information and ideas, and have great recipes whether they are new, novel or classic.”

This is certainly more-than-your-average easy quick fix cookbook, and Biuso has ensured that it not only packs a punch with versatile recipes, but also includes “a good glossary, a weights and measures chart and an extensive index.” And it certainly helps that the photography and design compliment her style of writing and personality.

There seems to be no end to Biuso’s energy. Working as a food editor of magazines (for both Taste and Your Home & Garden magazines) keeps her busy. Responsible for creating dozens of new recipes every few months, she is always on the lookout for New Zealand made artisan products.

In New Zealand, inspiration is never hard to find and, with a plethora of fresh produce on hand, she is devoted to creating results that are both original and delicious.

But what readers may not know about this remarkable, bubbling source of creativity is that her favourite ingredient is the humble potato.

Yes indeed. “I’m a potato addict,” she confesses. “It’s something to do with my Irish heritage. I like all sorts of potatoes cooked any which way. Even when I start talking about potatoes the Irish comes out in me! But, if I had to choose, a big bowl of golden, crunchy cubes of agria cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with NZ flaky sea salt will do nicely…well, as would a big bowl of fluffy creamy steamy potato mash, or some fat fingers of chips, or some baby crushed new potatoes with lashings of butter…”

Simple but heavenly. An appropriate summation of Biuso’s latest endeavor and a reminder that the humble spud certainly has many incarnations.

If you haven’t already, make sure you pick up a copy of Julie Biuso At Home and don’t forget to follow the finals at the Gourmand awards and support our very own New Zealand magic maker.

REVIEWER: Dione Joseph


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