Stephanie Clifford-Smith

Marion Grasby in the kitchen of her Bangkok condo. Click for more photos

Kitchen spy: Marion Grasby

Marion Grasby in the kitchen of her Bangkok condo.

Marion Grasby's career trajectory has been unorthodox to say the least. One day she was interviewing former prime minister John Howard as an ABC journalist, the next she was working in an Adelaide cheese shop to fund her gastronomy masters degree. Her public profile rocketed in 2010 when she reached the finals in the second series of MasterChef. Now Grasby is living the dream in Bangkok, managing suppliers and producers for her range of Asian ingredient kits. Her series Marion's Thailand is currently screening on Lifestyle Food.

The staples

My pantry: Squid brand fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, peanut oil, Pearl River Bridge light and dark soy sauces.

My fridge: I buy chillies and coriander every time I go shopping. I'm loving all the fresh Asian herbs such as Thai basil, holy basil, fresh garlic chives. Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise. I love the fact I have a real wet market near my condo in Bangkok.

Food discovery

I was recently in Japan and I discovered yuzu, a Japanese citrus. You can get yuzu juice and paste at Japanese supermarkets, and I'm loving putting them in dipping sauces, salad dressings and mixing with mayonnaise. It tastes like a mixture of lemon, orange and kaffir lime.

Inspiration

My mum really is my biggest inspiration. She's the one who taught me to love Asian food. She's from Thailand and is a trained chef. We go to the markets together and I ask her millions of questions about the produce and what to do with it. She's like an encyclopaedia.

I'm cooking

Last dinner at home

I'm such a food nerd - I often like to do things that are a bit challenging on a Sunday afternoon - so I tunnel-boned a chicken and stuffed it with pork, Chinese sausage, lemon zest and rice. Then I roasted it and served it with a sticky soy dressing.

My toolkit

My mortar and pestle I use just about every time I cook. I have a set of cream-handled Wusthof knives that I love. They're easy to look after, they stay sharp, but mostly I love the colour. My KitchenAid mixer. I cannot live without Microplane graters, especially for lemon and lime zest.

I'm drinking

It's not easy to get good wine in Thailand and it's quite expensive, so I've started drinking scotch. Highland Park is my favourite, on the rocks, straight up.

Saturday night tipple: A dirty vodka martini with extra olives. It's ''dirty'' because they put a bit of the olive juice into the drink and it's quite murky.

Celebration: Champagne, preferably Pol Roger 96.

Favourite

My recipe journal. Every time I cook something new, I write down what I'm doing so that if I ever want to further develop the recipe or need to make it for a demo I have the details. I'd be at a loss without it.

Most memorable meal

When I was 20, I spent two months in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. I was with a friend, we had zilch money and we did a road trip to a little place just outside the city. There was this woman by the lake serving khanom jeen nam yaa. It's a fermented noodle dish topped with soupy fish gravy to which you add holy basil, coriander and bean shoots. It was the most beautiful thing and it cost me about 20¢.

Secret vice

I always like to have some kind of honeycomb or nut-flavoured ice-cream in the freezer. At the moment I have a tub of Haagen Dazs rum and raisin.