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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Nerys Whelan talks about The Keto Chef's Kitchen II

Nerys started working in kitchens when she was 16 years old. Her background is in fine dining restaurants, working for some of the best chefs in the country. She competed and won several culinary competitions early in her career. This led to her being part of Team New Zealand in 2016 for the esteemed Bocuse D’or - Asia Pacific Continental Selection.

Nerys developed a passion for thinking outside of the box and thrives on the challenge of creating and adapting recipes. She started keto in early 2019 and found a lack of quality, easy-to-follow ketogenic recipes. She started creating her own and sharing them to help others on their journey. Nerys talks to NZ Booklovers.

Your first book The Keto Chef’s Kitchen was wildly popular. Can you tell us a little about the first book's success? When I was making The Keto Chef’s Kitchen, I had no idea how it would be received. I had a lot of imposter syndrome about writing a cookbook, even with my culinary background. When the book received second place in the diet category along with the ‘Best In World’ title from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, I was completely shocked. It definitely took a while to sink in, but I couldn’t have been more proud! But more than that, the feedback I’ve had from everyone has been incredible. Hearing that it’s helped so many people on their keto journey has been so rewarding.

Was it difficult to do the follow-up, The Keto Chef’s Kitchen II?

Honestly, this second cookbook was a dream to create. I found a great flow after learning a lot of things with the first book. I did challenge myself even more, and I took the majority of the recipe photos myself for this one.

What was your routine or process when creating this new book?

The process I used to make the first book really worked well for me, so I ran with the same again. I started by writing out the index of what recipes I wanted to create so that I had a good spread across all of the chapters. I plan, prep and trial for a few days, then I batch about 8-10 recipes in one day for photos, then type out each recipe the next day so I don’t forget any important notes about making them. Once they’re all done, I’ll revisit any I’m not 100% happy with before it goes off for editing.

If you had to choose three favourite recipes, what would they be and why?

The Custard Slice recipe was by far the most challenging one in this book to create, so that’s the one I’m most proud of – I lost track of exactly how many revisions it took to get right! The Sweet Chilli Sauce is a really cool recipe. I’ve not seen a recipe written like that before, but it has different options to adjust it to your taste depending on how hot you like it, and the spice level of the chillies. And lastly, I’d have to say the Sausage Roll recipe – that’s always going to be a crowd-pleaser!

If a soundtrack were made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

When I’m creating recipes, I often put on ‘coffee shop music’ – like the smooth jazz type. That might sound weird for someone my age, but I quite like making it a bit zen (especially when so much can go wrong!)

What did you enjoy the most about creating The Keto Chef’s Kitchen II? In this book I spent a lot of time on the opening chapters, and I’m really proud of them. I asked myself what key points I struggled with at the beginning of my keto journey, and I tried to make it simple and easy. There are some really cool resources in there, like how to read nutritional labels and charts to convert quantities of different sweeteners, so it’s super easy to swap my recipes, as well as any others – even from sugar in a standard recipe if you’re sugar-free but not keto or low-carb. What did you do to celebrate finishing this book? I didn’t step foot in the kitchen for a few days! Lots of sleep and rest, followed with a G&T… Or two!

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why? I’m currently reading Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey and I’m loving it so far. There are so many things that align with the way I choose to look at things; it’s just a great read! What’s next on the agenda for you? Well, that’s a very exciting question, and this is the first time I have officially shared this! In October, I’m launching a new brand called ‘Modest’. The first product is a low-sugar energy drink with natural caffeine and natural flavours – and of course, it passed all the taste tests! It’s subtly sweet and really refreshing, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!! If you want to keep up to date with the launch, you can find us on social media @modestbeverages

Mary Egan Publishing


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