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Meet Kirrily Cornwell, Australian Good Taste Home Cook of the Year

Today, I have the great honour of presenting my interview with Kirrily Cornwell, a fellow Canberran who was recently crowned the Australian Good Taste Home Cook of the Year 2011. Not only did Kirrily beat out nearly 5000 other competitors with her sheer cooking awesomeness, but she’s also a wonderful mother, world-traveller, and talented singer (she’s even performed in a Canberran production of Fiddler on the Roof, which you know is dear to my heart). Enjoy getting to know Kirrily; I certainly did!

Australian Good Taste Magazine, November 2011Hannah: Congratulations Kirrily! Your winning dish of Salmon with White Wine Risoni and Fennel Orange Salad looks phenomenal, and I love that a fellow Canberran won Australian Good Taste Home Cook of the Year. How did it feel to be announced the winner?

Kirrily: Thanks so much Hannah.  I can honestly say irrevocably and without a shadow of a doubt I was shocked beyond belief when they called my name out as the winner.  It sounds like a cliché but I didn’t expect to get as far as the semi-finals, let alone the finals, let alone win!

Hannah: You were selected as one of six finalists from almost 5000 entries. What led you to enter, and what inspired your winning dish?

Kirrily: I buy the magazine on a regular basis and when I got the issue which started the competition, the Reader’s Issue in June, I thought there were so many great recipes. I really enjoyed bringing my own touch to the recipes and it was a real learning process taking photos and composing shots of food (I had a couple of rejects that never made the cut because they just didn’t look good in photos!) (Hannah: I hear you there, sister!)

When I was selected as a semi-finalist and asked to submit my own recipe I was really happy. I wanted to do something a little bit different with pasta, and it seemed to come to me fairly easily with the ingredients just reflecting the flavours of spring. I did trial the dish with my family, and the salmon got the big thumbs up!

Hannah: Travel plays a key role in your love of cooking. What are your favourite food-related travel experiences?

Kirrily: It’s so hard to narrow down! The fresh produce at markets in France and Italy blew me away.  My sister is a great cook and we stayed in a villa in Tuscany with her and her husband and I’ll never forget cooking over a barbecue with candles, cooking risotto with fresh porcini mushrooms, and eating the best gelato in the world in San Gimignano. (Hannah: Ooh, if only I’d tried the gelato in Sin Gimignano! I definitely loved the gelato in Florence…)

Kirrily Cornwell, Australian Good Taste Home Cook of the YearI also love the memory of cooking in the tiny, tiny kitchen of a medieval cottage in the south of France.  I love duck and it was so great to get my hands on the best duck and all the other fresh produce I needed to make yummy food.

Wow the list goes on, awesome pizza in Venice, pepper crab in Singapore, French onion soup in Paris, fresh waffles in Belgium (not to mention the chocolate, beer, and fried goodness!), tapas in Spain, kebab ‘sandwich’ and mint tea in Morocco… I probably should stop or this article will go on forever! (Hannah: Don’t stop! I’m lost in dreams…)

Hannah: Now, let’s talk Canberra! Do you have any favourite restaurants here?

Kirrily: I’m a bit sad to say this but we hardly ever eat out! I’d have to ask my mum who eats out much more than I do lol! (Hannah: My mum eats out more than I do too!) They go to The Ridge at Farrer Shops all the time, apparently it’s got great food. Jehangir at Swinger Hill has really, really good Indian food. I love Thai Spice for a good Laksa, and just along from there the Chinese Kitchen has the best bbq’d duck and pork.

Hannah: How did your family react to the news that you’d gained the coveted title of Home Cook of the Year 2011?

Kirrily: My husband was so funny he swore a LOT! (he won’t be happy I told you that). All the plans of me getting a taxi home from the airport changed and he and the girls came out to pick me up, flowers and Moet in hand 🙂 (Hannah: Aw! That’s so lovely!) Everyone has been so excited and proud, I had to tell my mum she had to stop telling people because we weren’t supposed to let on until after the November issue was released (that was hard!)

Kirrily Cornwell in FranceHannah: Do you have any food-related plans for the future?

Kirrily: To me there is a fundamental difference between being someone who wants a career in the food industry and someone who just loves cooking.  The food I cook is made to be shared with family and friends, prepared and shared around a big table of food and drink and laughter and fun. I am also determined that my kids have an appreciation for different types of food and where their food comes from so that is one of my main motivations behind cooking. I can’t really see myself as someone working in a professional kitchen. Unless later on in life we end up retiring to the French countryside and decide to run our own bed and breakfast! 🙂

Hannah: Before I let you go, I must ask the most important question of all. Peanut butter: smooth or crunchy?

Kirrily: Most definitely definitely definitely crunchy!  My name is Kirrily and I’m a peanut butter addict… (Hannah: Welcome to the club! I knew I liked you for a reason.)

Hannah: Thank you so much for your time, Kirrily! And thank you for the fantastic recipe below, too. It’s been a blast getting to know you, and I look forward to meeting up to sing some Fiddler on the Roof together soon…

Kirrily Cornwell, Risoni Croquettes

63 comments | Leave your own

  1. Three-Cookies

    Was the interview done in person? You asked about peanut butter but why not chocolates?

  2. Lisa @ Blithe Moments

    Great interview Hannah. However I too am surprised that you only discussed the ickiness of peanut better – blerh – and not the loveliness of chocolate.

  3. Emma

    I won’t question you on your need to conquer the world through eating its weight in peanut butter. I understand, desiring to do the same with mayonnaise.

    And when I see the name Cornwell, my travel dreams spring up too, and all I can think about is how much I want to travel to Cornwall. Fun accents, lush countryside, and plenty of fishmongers!

  4. whisperinggums

    How exciting eh? I guess Kirrily’s parents live around where we do. The Ridge and Jehangir ARE good, but do they know Pistachio!

  5. CheezyK

    Oh Venice, why did she have to mention Venice? Please someone tell me that the longing to return will fade in time …

    Those croquettes look fantasticamical (sorry, it’s been a while)! I have never tried deep frying at home – hot oil and I aren’t exactly friends – but I may have to give these a go.

    P.S. Why are there whoopie cakes on the front of an Australian magazine? Am I strange for having a problem with this?

  6. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts

    Now I have to ask, what would you have done if she’d said smooth? The horror! 😛

  7. JohannaGGG

    I want to travel and I want to go out to dinner at least as much as my mum! Sigh! Kirrily sounds lovely!

  8. Kath Lockett

    Wowee, she’s a talented Canberrian! (Canberrite? Canberrasider? Canberrissian?).

    I must say though, as a non-Canberrian that ‘Swingers Hill’ does a great deal to change my perceptions of the place hugely!

    1. Louise

      Swingers Hill is a fantastic name isn’t it? We lived in Canberra in the late 90s for a few years, back then the Sexual Health registrar lived at 2 The Verge, Swingers Hill. I kid you not.

      1. Louise

        Sorry Hannah, I’ve just realised that I’ve lowered the tone somewhat of your lovely interview. And it’s smooth every time…..

  9. Catherine

    Great recipe and amazing lady! I’ll have to try this on the clan.

  10. ck

    Great interview Hannah. Kirrily does sound lovely and like a really deserving winner of the competition. Very cool that a ‘berran won.

  11. Lou

    This is great! What a fun interview… I like smooth peanut butter.

  12. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Great interview Spay Lady and well done on Kirrily! And lol I love the all important question about peanut butter-enquiring minds want to know! 😛

  13. msihua

    Shows that gems are shown in the most obscure places (I’m not saying that Canberra is obscure) just you know what I mean 🙂 CONGRATULATIONS KIRRILY!!!

  14. hungryandfrozen

    Yay, peanut butter addict! She MUST be a good sort (okay, so her lovely manner and gorgeous photos of her with children and use of the word “irrevocably” also contributes to that conclusion.) Loved this interview Hannah, good on you!

  15. Caitlin @ Vegetarian in the City

    YUM! congrats on creating this beauty. i’ve always wondered how much effort aioli was, i think i could handle it haha

    1. Kirrily

      of course that is the ‘cheats’ version of aioli… if you really want to go the whole hog you may need to mess about with egg yolks and oil etc but I say yay to the ‘cheats’ version 99% of the time 😉

  16. Nic@diningwithastud

    What a fab interview 😀 Loooove Croquettes! Im that person that sits next to them at a party to hog them all lol. Dont judge me!

  17. Margaret

    You asked all the most important questions! 😉 Such a fun read.

  18. EatPlayShop

    Thanx for a great read! What a lovely person Kirrily is, congrats to her and congrats to you for a great write-up!

  19. Kelly @ Foodie Fiasco

    Look at you! You, VIP, you. 😉 Getting interviews… becoming famous.

    Don’t forget us! We love you! 😉

  20. Kath (My Funny Little Life)

    Aww, what a lovely interview, Hannah! Thank you so much for doing and sharing this!

    If I’d like PB, I’d definitely go for crunchy. 😉

  21. Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

    Ooooh snap! I’ve totally had that gelato in San Gimignano. *sigh* I miss it. I’m lucky though, only 7-8 months til I go back to Europe! Feeling beyond lucky about that 🙂
    Heidi xo