Olivia Andrews is an inspiring, talented woman who wears many hats. Not only is she a mum to two gorgeous children, she’s the culinary director and co-founder of Marley Spoon Australia, the host of her own cooking show Three Veg and Meat and an author. Her latest cookbook Step-by-Step with Marley Spoon is a nod to all the favourite recipes old and new that have featured in thousands of Marley Spoon boxes over the years. Olivia took time out of her busy schedule to chat with Central West Mums, here’s what she had to say.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I was born and bred in Sydney. My mum is Taiwanese and my Dad is Australian. It was through my mum’s love of food that my passion for cooking and eating began from a very young age.
I have worked in the food media industry for around 15 years, starting off behind-the-scenes as an Assistant Home Economist on MasterChef Goes Large in the UK.
Upon expiration of my working visa, I returned to Sydney after almost 3 years away and was fortunate enough to start working with the incredibly talented, Valli Little at delicious magazine. From that point on, I worked behind the scenes on various TV shows like Ready Steady Cook, MasterChef, Destination Flavour and the Biggest Loser, and a number of fantastic magazine titles. I have also written four cookbooks over the years, where I was fortunate enough to produce a TV show based on my third title, Three Veg and Meat, in conjunction with Marley Spoon, which aired on Channel 10 earlier on this year.
In 2015, I was approached about a new meal-kit start-up called Marley Spoon. Marley Spoon has enabled me to create quick, easy and delicious recipes, with a twist on the everyday and make them accessible to everyday cooks. I believe that good eating begins in the family and from a young age, which is my approach through my work and even more so at home with my kids; 4 year old Harriet and 1 year old Louis. In a nutshell, I take a healthy, flavour-packed approach to recipes that combine global influences with nutritional balance and a generous approach to vegetables.
How did you come to be on the career path you’re on, take us back to the beginning where did it all start?
After graduating with a degree in Social Sciences, I went travelling for a year through the Americas and eventually landed in London. The fire in my belly for a career in food grew stronger once I arrived in the UK, and I couldn’t turn my back on it any longer and knew I had to give it a go.
A stroke of luck led me up the wrong flight of stairs and into the kitchen of Marcus Wareing at the Savoy Grill, which was a part of the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant group back then. My experience in the kitchen was invaluable, but I knew I didn’t want to be a chef. I was introduced to a couple of people in the food media history from there and got a lucky break. And as they say, the rest is history.
You’re one of the founders of Marley Spoon Australia, one of the first pre packaged no fuss dinner companies, tell me about this idea came about and how long it’s now been running?
Marley Spoon launched in Australia just over 5 years ago in a garage in Bondi, where the other two co-founders and myself started packing boxes ourselves and delivering to friends and family. Now we’re delivering millions of meals every month, which is an incredible feeling and achievement.
The idea of meal kits has been around for a while, particularly in Europe and the US, but they didn’t really have a presence in Australia outside of your local market until a few years ago. Having worked in restaurant kitchens and creating recipes for TV, magazines and cookbooks, I found that my real passion was bringing really simple, delicious and healthy recipes to people’s homes everyday, so Marley Spoon was a natural fit for me.
Very exciting that your new cookbook is here!! Step-by-Step with Marley Spoon, tell us a little bit about the inspiration for this book?
It was the perfect opportunity to be able to create a collection of some of our most-loved recipes, plus for those that are not familiar with Marley Spoon.
Over the years, we’ve developed literally thousands of recipes and customers are able to give their reviews and feedback on each dish, so we knew what people liked and didn’t like about each dish. We use this feedback to help us create new recipes for our menu and improve constantly, but we don’t always get to feature all of these recipes as often as some people would like, so Step-by-Step is a great way for people to experience to best of Marley Spoon meals (minus all the ingredients being delivered).
What can people expect from this book?
The very best of Marley Spoon! We’re focused on bringing a huge variety of meals to customers every week and need to create a menu that appeals to thousands of different people with their own preferences and tastes. With Step-by-Step, we’ve collated the dishes that our customers have loved over the years and demanded over and over again, which means there’s a huge variety of dishes. You’ll find 125 recipes, including vegetarian, healthy, fast and family-friendly meals. Some will feel very familiar to Marley Spoon customers and if you’ve never tried Marley Spoon, this is a great way to find out why our customers rave about our menu.
Your last book Three Veg & Meat had a focus on lots of vegetables, is this cookbook similar?
A primary element of Marley Spoon is making food as nutritious as it is delicious, which often means showcasing veggies more and doing interesting things with them. That was the focus of my last book, ‘Three Veg & Meat’, but that desire to make vegetables the hero of every meal is something that we’ve tried to bring into every meal we deliver. The nutritional value of every meal is an important part of developing any recipe for Marley Spoon.
Are the recipes in people love when they order Marley Spoon?
All of the recipes in Step-by-Step have appeared on the Marley Spoon menu over the years and have all been rated highly by our customers, so you know that every recipe is amongst the best.
What’s one recipe from this book that makes it to your table at least once every week?
The Marley Spoon menu changes every week, so I’ve had the opportunity to develop and sample thousands of meals from our test kitchen, but the recipe I go back to, time and time again, in various iterations is Chilli Pork Ramen. It’s super versatile and you can swap out your protein to make it with chicken or beef, or make it vegetarian really easily and it’s on the table in under 30 minutes every time.
Why do you think people would benefit having this cookbook on their shelf, what sets it apart from other books out there?
Step-by-Step with Marley Spoon is the perfect teach-yourself-to-cook guide to help build your confidence and repertoire in the kitchen. What sets it apart is that this is a selection of our top-rated recipes as voted by our customers.
Each recipe is broken down into 6 easy steps with instructional photos to match, and has been specifically tailored to serve 2 or 4 people. You can also find the nutritional information, allergens and main utensils or cookware needed. There are 5 chapters in the book, which are divided into the 5 most popular categories of our menu: family-friendly, super-fast, healthy, gluten-free and vegetarian. We’ve also included meal plans and shopping lists to help make the best use of the ingredients.
To grab a copy of Step-by-Step with Marley Spoon for your bookshelf head here.
Olivia was kind enough to give Central West Mum readers a sneak peek of Step-by-Step with Marley Spoon. Our tastebuds are salivating here at CWM head quarters- we can’t wait to try out this Chilli Pork Ramen with leek and corn!
This interpretation of the popular ramen noodle soup is Japanese soul food at it’s best. From the salty tang of the miso broth to the spicy sweetness of the pork, this dish delivers all of the qualities of a memorable ramen soup, plus leek and corn for a distinctive twist.
Cooking time: 25 minutes