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House Guest: Bre Graham

We caught up with writer Bre to talk about her love of cooking, the difference between food culture in Sydney and London, and how exactly she’d host us at home.
House Guest: Bre Graham
House Guest: Bre Graham

Bre Graham is the ultimate host. Whether she’s at home in her colourful, gloriously kitsch 70s apartment that looks over Regent’s Park; partnering up with friends for a life drawing dinner party; or pulling together dishes from her debut cookbook, Table For Two, in sky-high hotel restaurants. Bre takes all the comfort of classical cooking and spins them into easy-to-make, impressive modern dishes that beg to be eaten in the company of friends. 

But Bre is also someone who brings out the romance of a solo meal, too. She writes about this in her book and also her newsletter, Just To Delight, a weekly offering of thoughts on eating, tips on what to cook during the week, and forever-bookmarked recipes that range from fancy cocktails to dreamy desserts. After a seemingly long start to the year, we thought Bre was the perfect house guest to bring us back to the kitchen.

Where did your love of cooking and food come from?
I’ve cooked with my Mum ever since I could stand next to her in the kitchen but cooking became the most important thing to me when I left Sydney at eighteen and moved to London. It was what I could do to connect me to who and what I missed about home.

What's the difference between food culture in Sydney vs food culture in London?
I think weather plays a huge part in determining a city's food culture and the sunshine really shapes Sydney. Breakfast and brunch culture in Australia is such a huge thing whereas in London I so rarely want to leave my bed on a chilly January morning but am very happy having a late dinner in a cosy pub. 

What comes first, cooking or writing?
Cooking always. It’s the time when I can truly switch off and think so it constantly inspires me to write.

What was the process of writing your book, Table For Two, like?
Were there any challenges in either writing the essays or coming up with recipes?
It was a huge challenge to decide on the recipes as I had a very long list to begin with but with both the recipes and essays, I kept the focus clear on the purpose of inspiring people to cook for those they love.

You have a reputation for being a brilliant host – what's your favourite way to host, at home or doing supper clubs?
At home always. There’s nothing that makes me happier than being barefoot in my kitchen, cooking and listening to music or my friends chat.

We're coming round for a dinner party; what are you cooking and what are we drinking?

As soon as you step into my flat, the choice is yours for a cocktail because I make sure I have a fully stocked bar to cater to everyone's desires. Negroni on ice with frozen blood orange or a whiskey sour; whatever you fancy. I think starters should be simple if you’re doing something complicated for a main, so hunks of Parmesan and olives or olive tapenade topped toast and ricotta are lovely to snack on while sipping your cocktail. A huge bowl of seafood spaghetti with prawns, clams and squid with a bitter leaf salad on the side is my current favourite thing to cook with delicate pannacotta for dessert alongside an amaro. 

Finally, can you tell us about an ordinary object that has a special significance in your kitchen?

When I moved from Sydney to London almost eleven years ago, I took a suitcase full of kitchen objects from my Mum including wooden spoons and whisks that were hers but my favourite thing that I took were a few of her olive embroidered napkins to put out with snacks and martinis.

What’s your favorite piece in the Monoware collection?

I’ve had the Monoware serving platter for a few years now and I adore it. I love serving big salads on it or grilled veggies piled high, it holds so much and always looks good.

What’s a dish that reminds you of home?
A stack of pancakes on a Sunday morning, ideally with a pot of coffee within reach and something good to read.

Your favourite cuisine?

Impossible to choose, so I'll say modern Australia which is so inspired by influences from all our incredible immigrant communities like Greek, Italian, Vietnamese etc. and is focused on fresh seasonal produce.

Best song/album for a dinner party?

The Charlie’s Angels soundtrack.

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