Kitchen Spy: Pia Miller

Born in Chile, Pia Miller was four when she moved to Australia with her mother and older brother and sister. Her abuela (grandmother) joined them later, and it was watching her prepare simple meals so lovingly for the family that inspired her own passion for cooking.

The model, actress and recently appointed Chile Celebrity Tourism Ambassador lives in Elwood with her retired AFL footballing husband, Brad Miller (now a coach at Melbourne Football Club), and her two children, Isaiah, 11, and Lenny, 7.

The staples

My pantry We make a lot of salads, and they always have avocados (my favourite things in the world), Yarra Valley Persian feta and tomatoes, and are drizzled with lemon and olive oil. And I make a lot of guacamole – we eat it with everything. The secret is to keep it simple: I use avocado (preferably Hass because they're creamier and dense in texture), finely diced capsicum, very finely diced tomato, coriander, lemon juice, olive oil and Murray River salt. I keep a lot of lemons and I use mint for a great watermelon and feta salad. If you only use half an avocado, my tip is to wet it with cold water, leaving the seed in. It keeps better and doesn't go brown.

My fridge I like to buy my produce fresh every day so the fridge is more Brad and the boys' domain. There's normally leftover pizza, yoghurt snacks and other leftover stuff. Boys' stuff. We're so fortunate to have so many great fruit and veg produce places here in Elwood. I can decide what I'm cooking in the morning and then go and get everything throughout the day, which is awesome.

Last night's dinner

Vegetarian burritos and a glass of wine with Brad, myself and our two sons.

Recipe stalwart

Vegetarian burritos. Normally I'd like to soak my beans the night before but if I'm in a hurry, as I often am, I get canned four-bean mix, chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils, add a can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, lots of cumin, thyme, chilli flakes, a little bit of cinnamon powder, pepper, salt, sauteed onions, garlic and one fresh diced tomato. Let it simmer for an hour and then serve warm in multigrain wraps with guacamole, cheese, tomatoes and fresh lettuce. The whole process takes about 45 minutes. We have it every week and the kids love it.

My inspiration

I don't really have a physical thing, like a book, but I love turning food into an event. I love eating, and I feel like eating with the people you love and preparing food for them is a wonderful way of expressing that love. I don't know how else to explain it. It's a love language.

Most unforgettable meal

In Chile, in 2012. We went out to my aunty's farm and picked everything: fresh corn, fresh tomatoes and beans. She made a Chilean bean soup but it was all fresh ingredients and all the cousins, about eight of us, were in charge of picking different things. It was a beautiful family production line.

Secret vice

Jasper Coffee, Blend #10. I have it every morning, a double-shot flat white. I like to think I don't have any addictions and that nothing really controls me, but without my coffee I'm just not worth talking to, really.



My lemon squeezer. It's falling apart because it's so loved but I've had this for years. Fresh lemon juice and no pips, every time.

Food discovery

Essential Ingredient Lemon Agrumato Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It's infused with lemons and you can put it on anything. With fresh bread, like good sourdough, it's wonderful.

My toolkit

One of my favourite things in the world is this chopper/slicer. I bought it at an expo somewhere and use it for making my guacamole. You can change the blades for different things – I've had it six months and it's changed my life. I also like my garlic crusher and my double-bladed herb chopper. I experiment with baking with my Magimix and make smoothies with my Magic Bullet Nutribullet blender – it's incredible, it will liquefy your cell phone.

I'm drinking

Aside from a warm glass of water with lemon in the morning and my coffee, I like big, bold red wines, like this Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch shiraz. I had it on board a Qantas flight – I present in-flight entertainment for them – and it was incredible. It was impossible to get for a while but now it's available again – such good news. It's bold, rich in flavour, velvety and there's nothing better on a cold winter's night. I also drink rosé because it goes well with almost everything, and for parties I mix Pisco sour, a Chilean drink.