Have you ever wondered what chefs eat when they're not in their restaurants? Us too.
That's why in this series we talk to some of our favourite members of the Irish food scene about their food habits outside of the workplace. Today, we're chatting with Eliza and Evie Ward, sisters and founders of NutShed peanut butter company. Available around in stores around the country and their online shop, NutShed offers much more than just peanut butter - we highly recommend the new rawb box, which includes the signature NutShed peanut butter balls and two jars to enjoy.
Here, Eliza and Evie tell us about all the things they eat aside from peanut butter!
READ MORE: In the kitchen with Finn Ni Fhaolain
Do you cook a lot at home?
Evie: I do, I cook every single day. Whether it's a quick weeknight dinner, a sticky cake, a long slow Sunday feast or a recipe I’m working on, I find it so cathartic and really important to my week.
Who do you usually eat with?
Eliza: My boyfriend and I really love to cook together, so we tend to labour away in the kitchen every weekend, preparing something delicious from his home in Bombay. His mom sends us recipes to keep us on our toes. However, I do think I eat the most with Evie. Well, it definitely seems that way. We’re always talking about food in the office and sharing delicious things with each other.
Are there any foods you have to or choose to avoid?
Evie: I always try to eat as seasonally and as plant-heavy as possible. In terms of avoiding food, there seems to be a really positive movement away from labelling foods as good and bad and it’s really exciting to see. As women specifically, we’re thought to associate food with levels of guilt and I think it’s time to leave that behind - some days you crave brothy chickpeas, some days you crave chocolate cake!
What five ingredients do you always have in your kitchen?
Eliza: I bring my tiffin box of spices everywhere with me - I'm never without turmeric, mustard seeds, chilli powder and garam masala. I am also obviously never without NutShed Peanut Butter! I eat it at least twice a day as a staple on my morning sourdough or as an ingredient in fresh chutneys or rice bowls. I also think you should never underestimate the power of great extra virgin olive oil, as well as great quality sea salt as it can lift almost anything. You will always find a huge wedge of organic Parmigiano Reggiano in my fridge, made by my close friends in Borghetto, outside Parma in Italy. A few salty shavings on cavolo nero with extra virgin olive oil and I’m in my element.
What's in your fridge right now?
Evie: A big pot of spicy, warming curry cauliflower and peanut butter soup that I've been working on for our website. The peanut butter creates this creamy, velvety texture that’s magic. Aside from that, I’m never without a tub of gochujang paste in the fridge to add to whatever tired vegetables need brightening up on a Monday evening.
What is your default dinner after a busy week?
Eliza: Since I was a student I have always found comfort in a deep bowl of spaghetti arrabbiata. It’s always Martelli pasta from Lari in Tuscany, leaving in a quarter cup of the starchy water and adding some pesto Genovese which makes this dish so silky, but it's completely sacrilege so don’t tell the Italians!
What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
Evie: My boyfriend Hugo makes the most incredible kitchen knives from his studio in Limerick and I have a Japanese-style Nakiri knife for vegetables made from bog oak, date palm and drift plastic that I look forward to cooking with every day.
Do you have a favourite chef or cookbook?
Evie: My go-to books are by Meera Sodha and Anna Jones, they both have the most beautiful vibrant cookbooks that I reach for again and again.
Have you ever had a kitchen disaster?
Eliza: Yes, hundreds! We cooked and sold food at festivals for 10 years so I think we have been subject to every variation of a disaster possible. Our cooker running out of gas in the middle of service with almost 30 hungry people deep in a queue was a particularly character-building mishap. We did everything short of tap dance to keep our customers distracted while we got back up and running.
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What's the best thing you've ever cooked?
Eliza: Aloo tikki chaat is one of those dishes that just fills me with so much joy. It’s a potato-based Indian street food snack, loaded with layers and layers of toppings that each bring something to the table. It’s sweet, salty, sour, crunchy, creamy, zesty and spicy and it looks absolutely delicious and colourful too. It always evokes an audible groan from whoever is eating it.
What is the best cooking tip you've ever been given?
Evie: Invest your time in keeping a well-stocked pantry, then label everything with tape and a sharpie.
What would be your last meal?
Eliza: Anything cooked by my parents around their dinner table. Every meal they make is created as if it’s their last. The joy and fun they bring to that table is legendary and the wine is always great too.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
Evie: Anything brothy, whether it’s beans, ramen or a wintery pearl barley stew. Rich, dark umami broths with leafy greens and crunchy scallions bring me so much comfort!
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