Kitchen Spy: Natalie Bloom
Natalie Bloom with her favourite cookbooks in her kitchen. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Natalie Bloom juggles plenty: apart from her company, Bloom Cosmetics, she is kept busy with her family (husband Brian, a business entrepreneur, and their four children, aged one to 10). She is 42 and started doing cooking classes when she was 19. Bloom uses organic products in her work (through her Bloom Organics range) and at home (via an organic kitchen). "The way we eat is a lifestyle," she says. Travel, too, influences her cooking: she nudges restaurants around the world for their recipes and the family spent three months in Paris last year.
Most memorable meal
On one of our last nights in Paris, Brian and I went to Le Chateaubriand. You couldn't book, so by the time our table was ready, it was 11pm and their degustation menu was supposed to take two hours. Brian said, "I'm going to give you a challenge - can you do this in one hour?" They turned it into an opportunity for theatre. We had unusual dishes - duck heart and, for dessert, a whole egg yolk deep-frozen for 36 hours in sugar, so it's still raw inside. They did it within an hour and were high-fiving each other at the end.
I bought these plates from Anthropologie, a limited edition by Nathalie Lete. I serve dinner for the kids on these every night, and make an effort to cook a rainbow: bright-yellow corn, green snow peas, red pepper, carrot and cucumber.
I add raw nuts to a lot of things I cook, and we've always got pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds. They instantly give a simple dish protein, texture and flavour. No meal is complete without fresh herbs.
Aside from organic yoghurt, unhomogenised milk, flax-seed oil and maple syrup, our fridge is full of fruit and vegetables.
Filtered water or a glass of Lillet - a French aperitif - on ice with some orange peel at cocktail hour. My friend (artist) Mirka Mora introduced me to this one.
Last dinner at home
Tonight I'm having 19 people for dinner and doing Karen Martini's Syrian chicken. It's a bit fiddly since there are a lot of ingredients, but it's not stressful because you prepare it in advance. I'm also doing kale chips. My kids fight over them. I never waste my time cooking desserts: I'll serve fruit, dark chocolate and nougat.
Meera Freeman had a big impact on me; I did her Italian, Moroccan and Thai cooking classes, starting when I was at uni. Sandra Dubs taught me macrobiotic cooking, and I was lucky enough to do a course with Yotam Ottolenghi a few years ago. He taught me how to cut food so it still looks like it's in its original form.
Laguiole is the place in France where these knives are made. These are the original handles - horn - so you can't put them in the dishwasher. They're our most prized possession at the moment.
Mariage Freres is an established tea house in Paris that has been there since 1854. I buy the English breakfast tea every time I'm there.
Annemarie Colbin's The Book of Whole Meals is something [nutritionist] Sandy Dubs introduced me to 20 years ago. My go-to resource for how to make the most of individual ingredients is Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion.
My tool kit
For my 40th, my mum wanted to buy me something special, like jewellery, and I said, ''What I really want is copper saucepans.'' We went to [Melbourne culinary specialist] Scullerymade and, in the end, my mum said, ''Maybe jewellery would have been cheaper.'' I love them. I feel like I'll cherish them and will hand them down to my kids. I take more care when using them because the pot is heavy; it slows me down and I don't rush. They can't go in the dishwasher, but I love the way they tarnish and look loved. My Champion juicer isn't the best-looking thing, but I love it. I've had it for 20 years. Frozen fruit comes out like sorbet. Nobody has a ceramic grater like this; I feel everyone should. It's Japanese, and easy to clean and use. Sometimes the kids have yoghurt in the morning, and I grate strawberry over it; it makes flavoured yoghurt in one second.