Take 5 With: Magdalena Roze, Cookbook Author, TV Presenter & Mama
Magdalena Roze opens up about writing her first cookbook Happy & Whole, motherhood and life in Byron Bay - plus shares two of her fave recipes...
I first met Magdalena Roze on a cover shoot for Bride To Be magazine. She was newly engaged, had recently swapped a TV career and city life for Byron Bay (where her fiancé chef Darren Robertson had opened up his new restaurant Three Blue Ducks at The Farm) and unbeknownst to me at the time, was secretly pregnant with her gorgeous son, Archie.
It's hard not to feel an instant connection with Magdalena - she's warm, bubbly and caring. Over our many chats finessing the Bride To Be cover shoot, we bonded over fashion, food and family - three things we both hold dear to our heart.
When I found out she was releasing her first cookbook, Happy & Whole (on sale now), and saw some sneak peak snaps of the recipes it would feature, I just knew I needed to get the inside story - and my hands on some of those delicious and healthy recipes.
In this exclusive chat, Magdalena opens up about how Happy & Whole came about and why it is a reflection of her life at the moment, motherhood - the challenges and her best piece of advice - plus her top 3 foodie spots in Sydney and Byron and two recipes from Happy & Whole. Enjoy!
How did the idea for Happy & Whole come about?
I have a website where I write about food and lifestyle through a weather lens. When I moved to Byron Bay this became a bigger part of my life because I became pregnant and began to learn so much more about food and wellness. I was lucky to have a publisher approach me to turn my recipes and musings on motherhood, wellness and lifestyle into a book and here we are.
If you’d asked me a few years ago where I’d be now, I never would have imagined I’d be here! The inspiration for the chapters comes from my love of the weather and that it really does drive what I eat. In a country as large as Australia, seasons like summer or winter are very different in a place like Darwin compared to Hobart.
So I find that what we “feel” like is largely inspired by the weather. Sunny is all about picnic food, salads and cool drinks, Humid is seafood and cold desserts, Cloudy is all about the soups, pastas and stews and Rainy is baking and preserving. Plus I have breakfast recipes in Sunrise.
Does the title also speak of how you feel about your life at the moment?
Yes, the book title is reflection of how I feel, my approach towards life and food. Having Archie has given me a sense of wholeness I never had before and I feel incredibly nourished living in a place like Byron Bay.
But it’s important to note that being happy and whole is not about perfection, in fact feeling down and going through rough patches is a part of this too and I write about it in my introduction. While we strive towards balance, I don’t think it’s actually possible to truly have it and that’s ok. We do what we can with what we have and there’s something about knowing this that makes me feel much lighter!
What are some of your favourite recipes from the book?
The bone marrow is incredibly easy, delicious and super nourishing (and cheap!). It’s a crowd pleaser too so it’s great for entertaining. The farm salad is colourful and a beautiful way of showcasing produce and using every part of the vegetable. The one whole baked snapper is a family favourite (I’m all about minimising the washing up!)
What do you love about the way of life in Byron - it's quite a change of pace from Sydney.
There is so much to love about living here and I never take it for granted. The land here is so fertile and we’re surrounded by so many passionate ethical farmers bringing us beautiful produce to the markets each week. It’s a huge source of inspiration for my cooking.
I love being surrounded by nature- rainforest, rivers and beaches- as I find it very grounding and I’m so glad Archie gets to experience this. I feel really lucky to be be able to take him to the beach each day. The community here is so supportive and there is a lot of wisdom when it comes to motherhood. And there’s no traffic or traffic lights!
You mentioned you started working on this project when Archie was 12 weeks old – how did you juggle motherhood with such a big undertaking?
It was a really big commitment, much bigger than I expected! It’s a bit of a blur as Archie was still getting up 3-4 times a night up until about a month ago! I remember him playing with the pots and pans in the kitchen while I’d cook and test recipes and then I’d write during his naps in the day and in the evening once he went to sleep.
What were some of the most challenging moments you experienced becoming a mother for the first time?
The lack of sleep, coming to terms with my new identity and purpose, breast feeding, I could go on! The breast feeding was particularly tough as I was very depleted after birth and I had no milk for a week. I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to happen. I had a lactation expert come and help me and I really concentrated on eating nourishing foods like bone broths that help build milk supply. Plus I took the herb fenugreek, acupuncture, pumped etc. I did it all! I’m not sure what worked in the end but it came eventually.
I think it’s important to be honest about these things because so many of us go through the same challenges and just knowing that can be instantly comforting. I’m constantly learning and that’s what motivates me to share my experiences and any wisdom that I’ve gained. I’m no expert and my way isn’t the only way but if I can help another mum by sharing my own experiences then that makes me really happy. I’m so grateful for the women and men in my life that have supported me so I want to give back too. I guess it’s a modern day tribe type of mentality and I’m all about the sisterhood.
If there is one piece of advice you would give to a new mum, what would it be?
Every single baby is different so find your own rhythm and do it your way, you know what’s best for you and your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, surrounded yourself by supportive women and embrace the chaos!
You’ve also just recently launched The Pass Food Podcast with your best friend and food PR Queen Jeanine Bribosia and Sam Kennedy – tell me about this venture and how it came to pass (pardon the pun!)?
We’re all passionate about food and want to know where to go, and who better to ask than the chefs themselves?! Every episode they take us to their favourite local so we not only get their little black book of where to eat but we learn about them too.
In fact, most of the interviews have been really revealing and we’ve seen a side of them we haven’t seen before. Chefs and food personalities have such fascinating stories to tell and when you hear them it really does change the way you enjoy their food.
We’ve been working on this idea for about 9 months so it feels like another baby! It’s a passion project and totally self funded, so we never expected The Pass to be the number one food podcast on iTunes on day 3. It’s crazy but very motivating and we have some exciting plans for the next few months.
Finally, tell us your top 3 places to eat in Sydney and top 3 places to eat in Byron?
1. Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point
2. Three Blue Ducks in Bronte and Rosebery
3. Ruby’s Diner in Waverley
In Byron Bay, it’s so hard to narrow it down but I love:
1. Fleet in Brunswick Heads
2. Doma Cafe in Federal
3. Milk and Honey in Mullumbimby