02/11/2015 5:29 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Donna Hay Talks Cooking Disasters And Her Favourite Quick Dishes


When you think notable Australian personalities within the food industry you automatically think of Donna Hay.

Boasting a career that has spanned a couple of decades, Hay has enjoyed countless awards for her cookbooks, a successful collaboration with Royal Doulton and in 2009 launched the Donna Hay General Store -- an online business that allows food and style lovers to obtain Donna’s products and homewares so they can style their own cooking creations in the same way Hay does.

Donna's for the new book Life in Balance was released on November 1st, and she spoke to The Huffington Post Australia about her journey to this point.

"Some of my fondest childhood memories are of cooking with my grandmother, and that’s where it all started. She had a large vegetable garden, and we’d all go out and pick things fresh, and then head into the kitchen to cook them," Hay said.

"My mum also always encouraged me to cook, and I was creating big meals from my family from a really early age. After college, I was lucky enough to get a job in the Women’s Weekly test kitchen and things went from there."

Querying Hay to nominate one career highlight is a tough ask, as she's tried her hand at many and various endeavours throughout the years, though she was able to narrow it down to a few.

"Hosting dinners for Tourism Australia recently in London, travelling the world promoting my cookbooks and meeting lots of passionate interesting people, starting the magazine when I was in my early thirties and collaborating with Gelato Messina to develop my own gelato flavours," she said.

While it's all wonderful to create an incredible meal from scratch, many of us find time, or lack thereof, a barrier when it comes to everyday cooking. Hay can relate, and says it's all about shortcuts in the kitchen to make life simpler.

"I love using handy shortcuts in the kitchen, whether it’s a good-quality frozen pastry in the freezer for last-minute desserts, or a jar of caramelised onion relish or a pesto to stir through pasta for a quick midweek meal."

"And, I always have eggs in the fridge -- if you have some eggs, you always have dinner," Hay said.

"There’s a great simple recipe for skillet greens with eggs in Life in Balance that I’ve been cooking a lot lately -- you just pan-fry some silverbeet with leek and onions, then crack the eggs straight into the pan and bake. So easy, good for you and delicious."

Refreshingly, when asked to nominate her all time favourite dish, Hay is just like the rest of us.

"I always find it impossible to narrow it down to one favourite dish -- can I say ice cream? And I’m not a big fan of oysters. We had some come out of the test kitchen the other day at about 10am -- a few members of my team were quite excited about oysters for breakfast, but that’s one thing I definitely won’t be getting on board with!"

Hay has so much to look forward to in the coming months, in addition to her new cookbook.

"I'm excited about the opening of the Donna Hay pop-up store in Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter in November. We’re planning lots of exciting things in the space -- you’ll be able to buy all my products, magazines and books, plus I’m collaborating with amazing producers like the Gelato Messina boys.

"They’ve helped me create my own special gelato flavours, which is pretty much the best thing ever. They’re all so delicious, it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite but I’d probably have to go with either a Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffle or the Vietnamese Coffee."

Quizzed on if she's ever had any cooking disasters, Hay revealed that there was this one time...

"Once my neighbours almost called the fire brigade when I was barbecuing corncobs (with the husks on) and things got a little out of hand. It was quite a big fire."