Lili Roby trained as a chef, but along with teaching her technique it also taught her to hate food.
April Smallwood

16 Feb 2010 - 12:37 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

She quit and time away from the professional kitchen allowed the joy and wonder in food to return. She is currently living in Vietnam eating all the pho cuon and bun cha she can and regularly updating her food blog Catch up with her on Twitter.

Your secret food shame...
Sometimes I take 'tasting' during cooking a little too far. When I was in the kitchen full time I often wouldn't sit down and eat a proper meal for days on end.

Ingredient you can't live without...

What inspires you and your food?

After my I quit cooking full time I trained as a designer, so conceptual ideas and and aesthetics influence my cooking greatly. I grew up on an organic farm, and when I get back there I love wandering through the orchards, seeing all the amazing produce and deciding what to do with it.

What can you learn about a person from the way they prepare their food?

Attention to detail and their level of skill and experience, but none of that matters if the end product tastes good!

Recipe you most like to cook?
I often don't use a recipe for savoury food, but for sweet I like David Lebovitz's Chocolate Idiot Cake or a simple yoghurt cake. They can both be adapted and flavoured differently, dressed up or down and are always delicious.

Favourite recipe:

To impress...

Qoms Persian love cake. Satisfying, complex, decadent and surprisingly simple.

For the best comfort food...
Homemade toasted muesli
. I was one of those kids that came home from school and ate breakfast all over again.

For an easy weeknight dinner...
Chana Punjabi. Great flavours and simple to prepare from ingredients that are probably already in your cupboard.

What chef has been your inspiration?
I can't pick just one, I get inspiration from all over. Right now I'm inspired by Neil Perry and David Thompson for exploring and becoming expert at the food of different cultures and Adriano Zumbo for his wild ideas.

Tell us about your favourite food event in Australia.
Sydney International Food Festival, no question. A month of amazing food events, what more could you want? I was involved last year with the 'Secret Dinners', organising and cooking a big dinner party with Fouad from .

Your favourite cook book, food show and cooking utensil?
I love Stephanie Alexanders' A cooks companion. It is such a great resource, and would totally be my 'desert island' choice. It would have to be a toss up between 'The Cook and the Chef' and Anthony Bourdains 'No Reservations' for my favourite food show. I miss many of my cooking utensils from home, good knives, microplane, mortar and pestle, but right now I miss cake tins the most.

Your favourite restaurant in your area?
Right now I'm in Vietnam, and it has got to be on Pho Ly Van Phuc aka Chicken Street in Hanoi. Not too far from where I'm living, this place does amazingly tender bird bits grilled over coals served with sweet charred bread rolls. Sit on a tiny stool, eat with your fingers dipping each morsel into a mild chilli sauce, in between sips of ice cold beer. Bliss!

In Sydney I live in the inner west, and love food from the tandoor at Faheem Fast Food, and sweet treats from Black Star Pastry.