Tanya Bartolini always knew she loved to cook, but it wasn’t until she took maternity leave from her high-stress career in accounting and finance and gave birth to her first son that she realised she wanted to do it for a living.
“I realised that I had all these recipes in my head and scrawled on loose scraps of paper throughout my kitchen cupboards. I wanted to share them with other like-minded people,” says Tanya.
“I’m not a chef, I’m just a person who loves food and loves to cook good, hearty meals for my family. Coming from an Italian background, food was a big part of my upbringing and for me, food is synonymous with family. It began to dawn on me that there must be millions of people like me, who don’t want to tackle fancy recipes with a million ingredients and even more steps to follow. I thought I was time-poor before but becoming a mum only exacerbated that. It helped me understand the challenges people face every day in putting appetising dishes on the table.”
It is for this reason that Tanya developed The Everyday Cook Network. Tanya’s aim for the network is to create a forum of food-lovers who can interact with each other, sharing recipes, food wins and failures, and tips and tricks for improving dishes. Tanya frequently films videos showing her preparing meals, to better instruct her followers on how to put together a dish step-by-step.
Followers are encouraged to email in their own recipes directly to Tanya or to post them on the accompanying Facebook page, to create interactive discussion.
While establishing The Everyday Cook Network, Tanya has written her family history, interweaving it with delicious Italian recipes to create her first cookbook, Blending the Cultures.
“My book is really about my entire family. After the second World War, Italy was a broken country and thankfully, my grandfather took the risk to come to Australia in search of a better life for his children and ultimately, my children. Throughout everything we’ve been through, food has been the thing that has kept us together and the book is a celebration of the way food can unite us and bring such joy,” says Tanya.
“I took my heritage for granted growing up – I thought everyone knew about gnocchi and cannoli and that everyone’s Nonna made rich tomato passata. Blending The Cultures is my attempt to share a part of the Australian story that isn’t widely documented and to both preserve and share these beautiful recipes,” says Tanya.
Blending the Cultures features recipes from simple spaghetti sauce and marinated eggplant to garlic soy BBQ squid and savoiardi cake. It outlines the basics of making homemade pasta and chicken stock, removing the fear of the unknown when it comes to cooking from scratch. The book is written in Tanya’s own voice, with mentions of her personal experience with the dishes and why they mean so much to her.
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