Kitchen spy: Indira Naidoo

Indira Naidoo's career in broadcasting has spanned decades. She began at the ABC in 1990 and moved on to SBS, where she presented World News Australia. Later she made guest appearances on other networks, showing her versatility in comedy and culinary roles, including Good News Week and Celebrity MasterChef. Since leaving full-time news broadcasting in 2000, she has been involved in consumer advocacy and environmental causes but has continued to appear on screen in various capacities. Naidoo is a keen balcony gardener, a pursuit lovingly documented in her best-selling book The Edible Balcony, and she continues to blog about gardening and cooking at saucyonion.blogspot.com.

The staples

In the pantry The Little General olive oil. I really like its smoothness, and it's not too peppery - great blended through my pesto. Panko breadcrumbs, Callipo tinned tuna and Ardmona tinned tomatoes. And in my living edible-balcony pantry, always lots of fresh herbs, including parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, bay leaves and curry leaves.

My fridge Pepe Saya cultured butter; Nature's Own rice milk; organic, humanely raised meat from Feather and Bone (in Sydney); biodynamic free-range eggs; and a jar of home-made balcony-basil pesto.

Food discovery

I adore AC Butchery's duck, orange and pistachio sausages (in Melbourne I love the legendary pork sausages from Nino's and Joe's Meats in Brunswick). They're terrific thrown on the barbie, but if you squeeze the mince out of their skins and wrap them in some puff pastry, they make a quick, sophisticated sausage-roll canape.

My toolkit

I use my kitchen scissors for everything. I'll chop meat, cut up a chook, snip my herbs, cut packets open. They're always in my hand when I'm in the kitchen - I'm addicted to them. For other cutting, there's my set of Global knives. My pasta machine is used a lot. My pepper grinder has been in the family for 40 years and is great for grinding large quantities quickly.

Favourite My magnetic spice rack. It's an art installation and spice organiser in one.

Last dinner at home

Herb and parmesan crumbed chicken schnitzels with a red cabbage and carrot slaw. The large Japanese panko crumbs I use make these schnitzels light and crunchy.

Most memorable meal

My husband and I were filming rooftop farms in Hong Kong last year and were invited to tour the newly refurbished Peninsula Hotel. We got an exclusive peek at their rooftop helipad and departure lounge. Then we dined at the hotel's beautiful Philippe Starck-designed Felix restaurant and enjoyed a nine-course degustation dinner with matching wines. Bliss.

I'm drinking

I'm one of those strange folk who don't drink coffee. I do have tea though - usually black tea, and sometimes a Moroccan mint tea blend.

Saturday-night tipple Peacock Hill Vineyard Godfather Sparkling from the Hunter Valley. I'm a huge sparkling-wine fan and I'm loving the way a lot of them nowadays have those lovely yeasty flavours that you normally associate with the champagne style of sparkling.

After-dinner drink? By then I'll drink anything!

Favourite vineyard to visit Lake's Folly, Hunter Valley. Their chardonnay is world-class.

Secret vice

Cheese Twisties.

Inspiration

My food inspirations are people - Sydney chef Justin North, for trailblazing the farm-to-plate philosophy; food photographer Alan Benson, for making me want to eat everything he photographs; and food publisher Julie Gibbs, for nurturing and promoting great food writers.