Interview: Nerys Whalen talks about The Keto Chef's Kitchen
Nerys Whelan talks to NZ Booklovers about The Keto Chef's Kitchen.
Can you tell us a little about your background as a chef?
I fell in love with cooking at a very young age and I knew that a career in the kitchen was inevitable. I trained at WITT where my tutors got me into various culinary competitions which eventually lead me to being part of Team New Zealand at Bocuse d'Or, Continental Selection in Singapore in 2016 - That was an incredible experience! I moved up to Auckland afterwards and have worked for some top restaurant and catering companies, learnt from the best - and challenged them a little!
What inspired you to write The Keto Chef’s Kitchen?
When I started creating my own Keto recipes, I wanted to share them with other people and hopefully make this lifestyle a little easier and more decadent! The idea of the book was actually a joke initially. A passing comment after reading the positive feedback from my website, something along the lines of “Ohh, maybe I should write a cookbook next!” So the inspiration for the cookbook came from seeing that what I was creating was really helping people.
What exactly is Keto?
Keto is a low-carb, high fat and moderate protein diet that has certainly become a lifestyle for me. Ketosis is a metabolic state were the body uses fat and ketones as its primary energy source, rather than sugar. Typically the diet includes lots of green veg, high fat dairy and protein, nuts, seeds and avoiding things like breads, grains, root vegetables, legumes and sugar.
What are the range of recipes people will find in your cookbook?
There is a diverse range of inspiration and recipes for every meal and snacks! About a quarter are sweet treats (I have quite a sweet tooth) and I find having delicious sweets that fit into the keto lifestyle is a huge help with staying accountable! There is also a range of vegetarian and vegan recipes as well as options to substitute where possible to make something dairy-free etc.
How difficult are the recipes in your book?
I wrote these recipes with the everyday person in mind. They are all easy to follow and cook - bar one! The crêpe recipe is absolutely amazing (one of my favourites) BUT… cooking a thin, delicate crêpe with no gluten to hold it together is a bit of an art! However, there is a few notes and tips at the top for guidance.
If you had to pick three favourite recipes from the book, what would they be, and why?
I try to challenge the norm of what can be keto friendly. I am continually learning more about how different ingredients act and creating things that I did not even think were possible without things like sugar and gluten. So, my favourite recipes are the ones that took the most number of revisions to get right: Cupcakes, crêpes, bagels and cookies!
What is your favourite ingredient to cook with and why?
My favourite ingredient to cook with is cheese. I know that sounds weird, but it’s great for holding things like keto doughs together! Also, cheese is life.
What did you do to celebrate finishing your cookbook?
I finished the cookbook during Level 4 so to celebrate, we had a lockdown stroll around the block and a glass of wine with leftovers!
What is the favourite book you have read recently, and why?
I am a bit of a Lee Child fangirl. I love the way he writes and the whole Jack Reacher series of adventure and mystery!
What is next on the agenda?
I continue to add more recipes on my website, and I have a couple of very exciting projects underway! I can’t say too much right now, but keto is about to get a lot easier for everyone!