For this edition of In Her Shoes we had the opportunity to speak with Melbourne based author and home cook Julia Bussuttil Nishimura. We get a glimpse into the life of Julia and see through her lens, learning of inspirations, approach to personal style and advice she holds closely. A common theme is ever present as we hear from Julia, the act of sharing food, from her time in Italy involving shared meals to the creative process of developing and sharing her own recipes. We learn of Julia’s approach to downtime, which can be likened to her approach to cooking - simple, prioritising time with two boys Haruki and Yukito, and husband Nori.
In your own words can you tell us what you do?
I am a cook and an author. My food is simple and seasonal and celebrates the joys of coming together at the table. I have two cookbooks and am currently working on a third which will come out in 2022.
What does a morning in your life currently look like?
Mornings begin very early as I have two boys, Haruki (5) and Yukito (16 months). Nori makes coffee and breakfast while I stay upstairs for a little while and make a plan for the day, checking any emails which have come through overnight. Nori is a chef and leaves fairly early in the morning. I spend some time with the boys before taking Haruki to school and Yukito to his early learning centre. I then will usually head to buy fresh produce for the day and then head home to cook and test recipes or prepare for a shoot.
You’re the author of two cookbooks, what is your approach when creating new recipes?
Creating new recipes is such a fun and creative process and something that I really enjoy. Sometimes a new recipe might be inspired by a childhood memory or something closely linked to my family’s food which is Maltese. Or I might be at the market and see beautiful apples which I’ll bring home with me. I never really go to the market or shops with an idea in mind, usually I will pick what looks good and then decide on recipes once I am home, with my pantry in clear view. I write as I cook and cook as I write!
Can you share with us the most memorable meal you have had?
The most memorable meal I have had is at a small restaurant on the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto called Monk. It is always such a magical experience to eat at Yoshihiro’s restaurant. Yoshihiro sources the produce from nearby farms every morning – something I was lucky enough to experience with him on one occasion. He takes incredible care in everything he does. From the produce to the ceramics, everything is so well thought of. The meal always begins with pizza from the wood-fired oven – probably the best I have ever had in my life. Now that we cannot make our yearly trip to Japan, the memory of this meal is even stronger.
You juggle many different hats, do you have any particular morning or evening rituals that are a constant in your life?
I do love to unwind in the evenings by having a nice glass of wine with Nori as we cook dinner and chat about our days. That time is really important for us to connect and is such a favourite part of my day.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
When I was releasing my second book, I felt so many anxieties and worries that it may not be well received or not live up to people’s expectations after having such success with my first book, Ostro. Someone told me to let it all go. How people like or dislike my work has actually nothing to do with me. That I can only do my best, put out work that I am proud of and satisfied with and hope that my audience relates and connects with it.
When do you feel most yourself?
When I am at home, relaxing with my family and doing something really simple, like cooking dinner, watching a show together or playing a game. I am a real homebody and love just spending time together on the weekends when we have little to do and no where to go.
Tell us about your own personal style, has this changed over the years?
I don’t have a specific style, but I love big prints, flowy dresses, muted tones, gold jewellery and anything that makes me feel like I could be strolling the cobblestone streets somewhere in Italy shopping for produce. I really have had this style for a while, although I used to lean heavily into vintage shopping in my early twenties, something I do far less of now.
What are you currently inspired by?
I am currently inspired by the colours of Autumn – the falling leaves, burnt orange and yellow, mottled pumpkins and deep crimson pomegranates.