“Our grandma was a chef, but she didn’t just teach us to cook,” Bella Jakubiak says. “She also taught us to eat.”
Before Sammy and Bella Jakubiak won one of Australia’s favourite TV cooking competitions in 2011, they had no idea their cooking skills were unique.
It’s a talent they attribute to their upbringing. “Before MKR I just assumed that everyone’s families were as obsessed with food as ours,” Bella says.
But the Sydney sisters have come a long way since 2011. With regular segments across a variety of popular TV shows, an ambassadorship with a major Australian supermarket, their own boutique business Sammy and Bella Catering, a sauce range, and a pop-up burger bar at a Sydney Farmers Market, it’s safe to say the sisters are keeping themselves busy in the kitchen.
But far from the stereotypical grumpy chef, Sammy and Bella know how to find fun in the kitchen. So what’s their secret? Here are some of Bella’s top tips for making sure you never have to view cooking as a chore.
If she had to pinpoint one, single thing that drives her love for cooking, Bella knows the answer instantly. “I have loved cooking since I was eight years old – and it definitely grew from my love of eating,” she says.
“Being able to taste your food is so important in the kitchen – tasting for seasoning, acidity and spice can make all the difference to the final result.”
From this love of eating sprang a keen interest in discovering new flavours, textures and combinations – and a sense of excitement that still inspires Bella and her cooking today.
“Being a greedy guts and enjoying a huge variety of delicious, traditional food from cultures around the world is so important,” Bella says.
“At the moment I’m obsessed with Indian regional cooking. Every area has its own style and curious ingredients such as fenugreek leaf, asafoetida [a dried tree sap] and white poppyseed.”
3. Don’t rush
Today’s cooking has become all about being quick and easy but Bella believes the pleasure of cooking is in taking your time. “It’s important not to put time pressure on yourself, or to try to do things too quickly,” Bella says.
“Instead, take the time to enjoy shopping for amazing produce at your local farmers market, and take the time to spend a bit longer in the kitchen without fuss.”
4. Be prepared
If you’re short of time, being prepared will save you from stress and lacklustre meals. “I always prepare for my cooking as much as possible the day before and I am forever grateful for it,” Bella says.
“And if you know you’ve got a big working week ahead, don’t be afraid to cook large quantities of freezer-friendly dishes. They’re extremely handy for those late nights home from work.”
5. Make mistakes
If there’s one thing to remember in the kitchen, it’s this – keep at it. “Definitely do not give up!” Bella says.
“I recently read something that said, ‘you made all the right decisions and all the right mistakes’ and this is the perfect way to view your kitchen.”
“It’s OK to make mistakes,” Bella says, “just make sure that you learn from them.”
Sammy and Bella are ambassadors for the new Fuze Tea range.