“Eat food from the ground, the sea and the sky – and less from the factories”
– Nadia Lim
To be doing what I am today is a dream come true. It all started when I was 12 years old. I was watching TV after school one day and Jamie Oliver was cooking up a storm on The Naked Chef. I thought “Ooooh…he’s cool, I’d love to cook, eat and write recipes all day like him”. On that day I firmly decided that, one day, when I grew up I’d write a cookbook and have a cooking TV show called ‘Food in the Nude’. I wasn’t dreaming of cooking naked, if that’s what you were thinking…what I wanted was to show people how delicious natural food, that wasn’t dressed up in fancy packages and additives, could be.
All throughout school I excelled in food tech class and it became pretty clear I was a born to cook. As a young teen, I loved holding dinner parties for my friends and started writing my recipes in a little note book. I think the first original recipe I created was a chilli and lavender milkshake – it’s fair to say it was a disaster, so I’ve come a looooong way since then!
I studied nutrition and dietetics for five years at Otago university in New Zealand, where I learnt the science behind food and nutrition, as well as met my husband (who now works with me!). I worked as a diabetes dietitian for a few years before the opportunity to enter MasterChef came about. With the dream of writing a cookbook in mind (which was one of the prizes), I entered the reality TV cooking show and, after A LOT of sweat and tears, managed to cook my way to the top winning the competition! What an amazing feeling that was.
To cut a long story short, it’s been one hell of a ride since that day! I decided to stay true to my ‘nude food‘ values and make sure that anything I did was with the aim of helping people eat a more nutritious, delicious way, moving them away from processed foods and towards more real food . My big labour of love has been My Food Bag which brings the nude food philosophy to life. Every night My Food Bag helps to solve the “What’s for dinner?” dilemma for thousands of families across New Zealand, getting them eating simple, healthy, delicious dinners every night of the week. It still gives me the warm fuzzies when I get an email from someone saying how much it’s changed their lives…kids are eating more vegetables and trying new foods, families are eating together around the dinner table more, and couples are cooking together in the kitchen. What more could I ask for?!
I also dabble a bit in food writing with a weekly column for The Sunday Star Times, and feature on TV as a guest judge on My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef New Zealand and my own cooking show (New Zealand with Nadia Lim) on the Asian Food Channel.
I live between Auckland and Sydney, and frequently travel to Asia where I lived for a few years (in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). My Dad is Malaysian Chinese and my Mum is from New Zealand, so I’ve been really lucky to have grown up with two very different cultures and sets of taste buds!
Happy cooking and eating!