These cooks get it from their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
4 May 2021 - 8:06 PM  UPDATED 2 May 2022 - 5:08 PM

There's something so beautiful about those family recipes that have been taught and devoured from generation to generation. Whether they evoke a sense of confidence in the kitchen, evolve over time or simply become part of your shared dining experience, it's the history and skill behind them that speaks volumes. We thank the matriarchs that have passed down their prized and most delicious tools.

From Food HQ to you
Farah's mum's Bosnian flour halva
This soft, sweet Ramadan dessert brings back memories of home for Farah Celjo.

Welsh cakes

"I was born in Wales, and yet my mother, whose recipe I’ve seconded and adapted here, is English. She vouches for its authenticity, and I can tell you it’s made me happy as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult. I’ve now started making them for my son, and the heritage lives on in the kitchen at least." Matthew Evans, Gourmet Farmer

Roast capsicum salad

"No family feast gets underway in the Colloca household without my mum’s vibrant roast capsicum salad. Dad and my uncle Claudio would be completely up in arms if it wasn’t on the antipasto platter – not that they would ever volunteer to make it themselves! Mum is too wise to provoke any tantrums, and she happily roasts, peels and marinates while the two handsome gentlemen discuss which vintage of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo they should crack open. And so the family festivities begin..." Silvia Colloca, Silvia's Cucina


Six pasta recipes to transform you into a nonna
Better brush up on your Italian, because you're about to inherit a few decades worth of pasta-making expertise.

Sri Lankan egg curry

"This is a curry that my grandmother used to love. It’s full of goodness and really tasty. Deep frying peeled eggs give it a tofu-like exterior that absorbs the gravy." Peter Kuruvita, Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen

Mama's prawn and leek stir-fried noodles

“This is a beautiful dish that my late grandmother taught my mum and my mum taught me. It really is the easiest stir-fry you’ll ever make. No fiddly chopping or worrying about the fierceness of the heat; you can cook this on an old electric stove and it will still turn out fabulously. The sweetness of the prawns, fish cake and gently aromatic leeks knit together so beautifully, I always have seconds – and thirds…” Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co. 2 

Udon with friends

"There will never be enough time in each day to do everything we want to. That’s something we all know too well. It’s what we choose to do with the time we have that is most important. For me, there is no more worthwhile labour in a kitchen than feeding a family. For most of us, a love of food is born around a family dinner table. It definitely was in my case. The dishes we are served by our loved ones as children will, years later, become the dishes we crave as adults. My grandmother says a well-constructed shared meal should contain an odd number of dishes, with a minimum of three. The same variety that makes a shared Asian meal so appealing can also be intimidating for those new to Asian cooking. This simple noodle dish collects together some udon noodles with a few of their favourite companions and is the perfect lunch or light dinner option. This book is to my grandmother, for who feeding our family has been a life's work and to my son, who I look forward to cooking for the rest of my life." Adam Liaw, Adam's Big Pot

French apple tartlets

"This dessert brings back beautiful memories of my youth, cooking with my mum and grandmother at home. At its best, it’s heaven." Gabriel Gate, Taste le Tour

Rajasthani chickpea dumpling curry

"Once I got married, my mother-in-law made me her, proper Rajasthani, version of a dish my own mother’s family had been cooking for years. These little dumplings (gatta) based on her recipe has them cooked in a simple but incredibly tasty yoghurt and tomato sauce which is based on the one my mother made. It is fun to make, easy, cooks in 20 minutes and is exquisite. I crave it if I haven’t eaten it for a while. I eat this with simple plain rice; any other dish just distracts me from my pleasure." Anjum Anand, Anjum's Australian Spice Stories

Maltese baked ricotta pie

"So mum, everybody thinks I learnt all my cooking from you. What I did learn from you, was how to make the beautiful things, the really simple things right and the Maltese ricotta pie has always been one of my favourite recipes." Shane Delia, Shane Delia's Recipe For Life

Tamarind broth with beef and water spinach

"My Aunty 8 makes the best canh chua, which is a very southern dish. A tamarind broth, it's sour, sweet, a little bit salty - it's one of my favourite dishes and I get so excited cooking it. My Aunty 8 and my mother cooks this recipe in their family and like any kitchen, everyone has a different palate and a slightly different recipe. Mum likes more tamarind, Aunty 8 likes it a little bit sweeter and I like it all well-balanced." Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's Food Trail

Newland's tomato sauce

"My family comes from a property called Newlands in western Victoria. My great-grandma, Annie Macmeikan, passed her recipe down through the family. It’s still being made by my dad, and has been handed down to Matthew and me at Puggle Farm and now Fat Pig Farm. This is the sauce we call ours, though it does vary slightly from year to year. We like to make it in very large batches to use throughout the year but I've scaled down for the home cook." Sadie Chrestman, Gourmet Farmer

Newland's tomato sauce


Six pasta recipes to transform you into a nonna
Better brush up on your Italian, because you're about to inherit a few decades worth of pasta-making expertise.

Sri Lankan love cake

"Sri Lanka love cake was my grandmother's favourite cake, it was her signature dish. I only make it once a year and when you see how much sugar is in it, you'll see why." Deborah Solomon "The cake itself is made from semolina and many eggs, creating a fragrant, sweet, lightly spiced cake with a moist chewy inside and a crunchy exterior. It's a three-generation hybrid woven together from the Queen of Asian cooking in Australia, Charmaine Solomon, who based it on a recipe from her mother. This version is shared by Charmaine’s daughter Deborah who likes to add lime zest, preserved pumpkin and has dialled up the number of spices." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth 

Sri Lankan love cake

Nan's jam and coconut slice

"When I was a young kid, school holidays meant that my sister and I would be placed under the charge of my grandmother June, who made delicious baked treats. A staple was this jam and coconut slice. There’s nothing fancy about it - it uses only pantry staples, but as my grandfather would offer, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. When my Nan passed this recipe down to me, the measurements were given in cups because Nan believed scales belong to fish." Paul West, River Cottage Australia

An afternoon tea classic

Mum's spanakopita

"In all the years I’ve been blogging, I can’t remember ever featuring my mother. How very Freudian! Jokes aside, I’m proud to present Mrs G’s simple spanakopita with homemade filo. There is a real skill involved in getting the right consistency with filo and my mother uses a plasti to roll her sheets out, which is very similar to a rolling pin, except it’s long and thin, and resembles a curtain rod. If you want super-thin sheets, use a pasta machine to help out. My mother likes to roll her sheets out quite large, fill them up and shape them into a coil before cooking them in a tapsi (Greek round baking tin). So this pie is similar to traditional spanakopita, but like all dishes, they vary." Peter Georgakopoulos, Souvlaki For The Soul

Yiayia Marina’s baklava

Yiayia Marina’s been making it the same way for over 60 years and it continues to make an appearance at every family gathering, large or small. Our family’s recipe is for a large-sized tray, enough to make 100 tiny bite-sized serves, or 25 larger dessert sized portions. 

Corn and guava cake

"I have fond memories of this cake being made by my Cuban grandmother and she would have made this cake by hand, no fancy machines in sight The corn really colours and flavours the cake and use banana leaves as the "baking paper" in the tin. It really is an all-purpose cake and it’s even better the next day." Chef Danielle Alvarez (Fred's), Food Safari Earth 

Corn and guava cake

'Pick me up' pudding (tiramisu)

"This is mum's signature tiramisu, with the perfect ratio of cream to biscuits and just enough coffee to make the biscuits soft but never stodgy. Her mascarpone cream, however heretical, is quite remarkable, too: whipped egg whites make it light, while a small dose of fresh whipped cream cuts through the egg flavour and gives freshness and subtle milky note." Valeria Necchio, Italian Country Kitchen

Polish apple cake

“My mother and I would bake cakes and talk food. It was a time when women would be at home, swap recipes with each other and share their baking secrets – I absolutely loved that time. I began simply peeling and chopping apples from our garden and you have to start somewhere and this was it for me. For a young girl, it was heaven – the smell of spices, the smell of cinnamon filled our kitchen and it reminds me of my childhood and my mother.” Anna Allison owner of Sydney's, The Lion & The Buffalo cafe.

Want more Mother's Day inspiration? Check out our recipe collection with over 150 recipe ideas here.