Tête-à-tête: Laura Williams
Laura Williams is a certifiable food-junkie, and I dig that about her.
The brains behind highly-acclaimed international food blog, My Little Hong Kong Kitchen, I first met Laura when we worked together on a magazine editorial about her cooking a few years ago. Creative, super-smart and obsessed with all-things-food? Suffice it to say, I liked her straight away.
Laura and her husband, Chris, moved to Hong Kong in 2013, after having both read law at University. Originally hailing from Liverpool, England, she grew up in a home where both food and photography were at the forefront each day.
"My mum was one of ten children and the main cook in the family growing up. When I was young everyone used to look forward to coming to our house on the weekend for a traditional Sunday roast," Laura said.
"And then my dad is a photographer, and although he never specialised in food photography, I think I developed my passion for photography in general from him."
My Little Hong Kong Kitchen was awarded 'Top Food Blog' by the Hong Kong Food Panda Awards in 2016. Her recipes, her infectious love of food, and her beautifully styled photographs, have taken her blog from humble beginnings to something truly chic and unique. And I'm not the only one who thinks so . . .
So, you're followed by Nigella Lawson on Instagram - which is amazing! - is she an inspiration of yours?
"Absolutely! Waking up to a notification that Nigella began following me was such an amazing feeling," said said.
"She is literally one of my biggest inspirations and someone I have watched on tv for so many years. I love her style of cooking and the storytelling behind her food."
Have you always been a foodie?
"I have always been interested in food - mainly eating rather than cooking though. After moving to HK, I worked as a Native English Teacher for a few years (I still tutor part time) and during the spare time I had between morning and afternoon lessons, I began to cook.
"I took the time to create my own dishes and became a little more adventurous with my flavours. As time went on, I began taking photographs of my food and the desire to make the food look as good as it tasted grew quickly.
"Today, I would class myself as a big foodie. If I'm not in the kitchen cooking, I am reading cook books, scrolling through Instagram for inspiration or researching new ingredients!"
How was My Little Hong Kong Kitchen born?
"Well, as the name implies - my kitchen is not the biggest. I used to post images of my food to my own personal social media pages and would have friends ask me for recipes and cooking advice. It was at that point I thought it would be great to create my own blog where I could gather all of my recipes and meal ideas in one place, and share it with the people who might be interested in it.
"I also wanted to inspire people in Hong Kong who have similarly small spaces to cook in and show them that creating delicious food is not as difficult and time consuming as they think it might be.
"All this, combined with my Instagram feed, helped the name to grow and develop to where I am today."
Who else influences your cooking, and why?
"Another chef I have followed for many years is Jamie Oliver - I remember watching his TV series ‘The Naked Chef’ when I was young and being totally inspired with his approach to cooking. He made everything look so easy.
"I find that he has influenced a lot of my cooking and presentation - I love the rustic sharing platters he creates. He has a great ability to use simple ingredients and make them taste the best they can. For me, food is about bringing people together and making you feel great and thats what I am aiming for every time we sit down to eat!"
As well as cooking, what are your main passions?
"One of my main passions is photography - I love taking photographs! I photograph my food, my friends, my family and my travels. I love to capture whatever is around me and create memories of my time with special people and special places.
"Travel is also a big passion of mine - my husband (who is a pilot) and I try to get away as often as possible. I think travel broadens the mind - its a great way to learn new cultures, cuisines and languages."
You're having a dinner party . . . who's coming (dead, alive or fictional) and why are they invited?
"Such a great question! I think my first guest would have to be John Lennon. It may be a cliché, but coming from Liverpool, you can't help but love The Beatles. I’d be interested to hear about his journey (before, during and after The Beatles).
"Second guest would definitely be David Attenborough! I think he is fascinating and I admire the dedication he has put into educating the world in natural history. I could listen to him talk about life on planet Earth for days . . .
"Then I'd also have to invite Annie Leibovitz - I adore her portrait photography and love how it has allowed her to travel the world and meet so many famous faces along the way. I’d love to hear her stories.
"And lastly, Jamie Oliver. His passion for food and his aim to ‘revolutionise’ the way the world eats is absolutely wonderful. He has an amazing energy and enthusiasm for cooking and I’d love to be around that!"
Any food hacks for busy mums (and dads) that you can share?
"I know so many parents have to balance a very busy life with ensuring their children are feeling good and eating well. I think the trick is to keep it simple and fun!
"Get the kids involved in the cooking if they are old enough. Maybe allow them to pour, stir or kneed. I think children are keen to eat things that they themselves have had a hand in making (even just a very small hand).
"A great dish to make is my Falafel Wraps with Beetroot Hummus. These can be assembled in advance by parents, wrapped in foil and kept in the fridge so that dinner is ready when you are. Alternatively, you can place the falafels in a dish alongside bowls of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and hummus - then give the children a tortilla and allow them to make the wraps themselves (almost like a pizza) and put whatever they would like in their wrap. The colours in this are amazing too!"
What is your all-time easiest fail-safe recipe?
"I think it would have to be my Roasted Vegetable Couscous Salad. This is just our favourite thing to eat (and we eat it at least once a week if not more).
"Simply peel and chop sweet potato, pumpkin and asparagus and roast until soft. Make up a bowl of couscous and add in a heaped spoonful of green pesto and mix through with a pinch of salt and pepper. Chop sun dried tomatoes and add these to the couscous along with a handful of fresh spinach and some crumbled feta. Add the cooked vegetables and combine everything together. Serve with a chicken breast or simply on its own. This tastes even better the day after for lunch!"
I love love love some of your cocktail recipes (and photos!). What are your favourite cocktail(s) to make and devour?
"I absolutely love a cocktail and I think the HK cocktail scene is getting better and better. I used to opt for vodka cocktails and loved a Cosmopolitan. Recently I have become more fond of gin and gin cocktails. Although, I don't think you can go wrong with a Negroni! My favourite cocktail at the moment though is an Aperol Spritz - so good and always reminiscent of our honeymoon in Italy!"
Describe the perfect day and night for you . . .
"My perfect morning would begin waking up with my husband somewhere warm and sunny with a view of the ocean. We would order room service and eat breakfast whilst enjoying the view.
"My perfect day would involve taking a long walk along the beach, having a splash in the ocean and laying under an umbrella with a cold cocktail and good book!
"We would spend the evening having sunset drinks, a delicious meal in a beautiful restaurant and maybe finish off the night in cosy little club with some live jazz music. Perfect!"
Where do you hope to be in ten years time - both physically and with your blog?
"Ahh thats a difficult one! My blog has grown so organically in the past two years and I hope that it continues to grow in the same way.
"I really love the combination of cooking, food styling and food photography and ideally, I would like to still be working in this area in ten years time. Fundamentally though, I hope to be happy and fulfilled both in my personal and professional life."
What's next for My Little Hong Kong Kitchen? I'm hoping a cook book!
"Ahh thats so kind! Of course, a cookbook is the ideal and one day it would be so lovely to be able to share my recipes and meal ideas with others in this way.
"At the moment, I am continuing to blog and share my day to day cooking with the world. I am regularly contributing monthly recipes to Foodie Magazine HK and this has been so exciting - I hope to continue. I also currently teach cooking classes to domestic helpers in Hong Kong and I love it. Maybe it would be nice to open this up and do regular classes aimed at anyone who'd like to join.
"I just hope to maintain my passion and love for food and cooking. I will continue my aim to inspire those who don't feel like they have neither the time nor ability, to get back into the kitchen!"
See more on Laura and My Little Hong Kong Kitchen:
Food images and recipes provided by My Little Hong Kong Kitchen.