Even if you don’t recognise Nagi Maehashi by name, you’ve probably stumbled across her recipes when scouring the Internet for something to cook for dinner.
Her food blog turned business venture RecipeTin Eats is one of the Internet’s favourite cooking resources, featuring comprehensive how-to videos and delicious recipes on everything from the ‘ultimate’ 12-hour roast lamb to cheeseburgers, and even her family’s secret ramen.
But she wasn’t always a foodie. ‘I am self-taught,’ Nagi says. ‘My mother never taught me how to cook anything other than wrapping gyoza! I just always enjoyed eating tasty food, probably because I was fortunate enough to grow up eating great homemade food.’
Born in Japan but raised in Sydney, Nagi discovered her love (and talent) for cooking after parting ways with her first flat mate, who had a very ‘different’ palate to her. The menu consisted of basics like rissoles, cheap snags and packet gravy powder, and spaghetti bolognese.
‘We had the same menu every day for the two years we shared an apartment, and it was not very enjoyable,’ Nagi adds. ‘Once we parted ways, I went a little ballistic making up for lost food time. I started cooking food I wanted to eat (I couldn’t afford to eat out!) and hosting dinner parties regularly.’
This new-found passion for crafting recipes and hosting dinners followed Nagi into her career as a chartered accountant, and in 2014, she left her office job to launch RecipeTin Eats – armed with nothing but a second-hand $250 camera.
‘I found that my corporate training was key to setting up and running my own business,’ Nagi says. Slowly but surely, Nagi built immense online archive of mount watering, easy-to-follow recipes, and grew her following from a few loyal readers to an unbelievably wide audience – her website received 335 million views last year!
Nagi’s business know-how has also helped her set up her own food bank, RecipeTin Meals, in the middle of the pandemic. ‘I have three full-time cooks headed by a professionally trained chef cooking homemade meals for the vulnerable in Sydney,’ she says. ‘We’re producing almost 100,000 meals annually, plus desserts!’
It’s her proudest achievement, alongside the recent launch of her first ever cookbook, Dinner. Featuring more than 150 recipes, the book embodies Nagi’s endearing personality and accessibly delicious cooking, helping others find the joy in everyday food!
I wake up around 5am on a good day, and 7am on a lazy day! I’m probably best before 7.30am and after 7pm, but I always check my text messages, WhatsApp and emails – I get a lot of messages throughout the night!
Because I work from home, all I have to do is walk from my bedroom into my study. It takes 15 whole seconds! My first task of the day is answering any reader questions on recipes on my website over my morning coffee. I love this routine.
Then I normally take Dozer out for a walk… when it’s not pouring with rain, which has been happening all too often lately!
By lunch, my team and I generally eat whatever we’re working on or shooting! We very rarely cook lunch specifically for ourselves to enjoy. We are surrounded by great food from morning to night!
I don’t have a particular afternoon routine; it really just depends on what I’m doing that day. I’m a generally pretty high energy person so I can be on the go all day – whether in the kitchen or filming recipes videos or shooting photos, or bashing away on the keyboard. I’m happy in any of those situations and can pull a long day doing any of them!
I don’t really have a set time that I finish up for the day – especially with the launch of the cookbook let’s just say the hours are a little unusual!
In my pre-cook-book life, stir fries were high on rotation for dinner, but lately it’s been mostly left overs! This is because of the very high volume of food that we make due to the cookbook.
But believe it or not, when I need to unwind I cook. Yep, really. I just love it so much. I will cook all day for work, then I will clean the kitchen, pour myself a glass of wine and cook purely for the pleasure of it. It is a luxury cooking without having to plan to photograph it and knowing I can eat it hot and fresh!
I also like to watch trashy TV. I will never tell you what I watch, you will judge me!
I usually get to sleep around 10:30pm. I can survive on little sleep, but I don’t like to because it’s not healthy.
Right now I’m listening to, watching, and reading…
Hits from the ’90s, Brooklyn 99 season 8 and some cookbooks I’ve been wanting to read for over a year.
My productivity tool/tip is…
Hide! Avoid distractions!
A philosophy I live and work by is…
Work hard. Play harder!
Something I’ve learned the hard way is…
Life is not always fair. But you need to make the most of the cards you are dealt, and live life with no regrets.
Nagi’s debut cookbook, RecipeTin Eats: Dinner (Macmillan Australia) is out now!