Saya Woman Series #5 | Nilla Tomkins
The Saya® Woman is an interview series showcasing extraordinary women who share their experience, insights and advice to life, business and everything in between. We hope their stories inspire you as much as they inspire us.
For our Saya Woman Series #5, we chat with Pernilla Tomkins, if you’re a Sunshine Coaster who loves good food chances are, you’ve heard of Nilla - Owner and chef behind Vanilla Food and Nilla’s Pantry, two of the regions most cherished eateries for wholesome food.
Nilla’s passion for creating wholesome food traces back to her childhood in the Danish countryside where she spent time in the kitchen with her mother - fast forward to today, and Nilla has been inspiring the community ever since, teaching them to prioritise their overall health and wellbeing through the consumption of fresh, organic, and wholesome food. In this exclusive interview, Nilla opens up about where her passion for wholesome food began, the inspiration behind her delicious recipes and her most rewarding experience to date.
Where and when did your passion for wholesome food begin?
I have always enjoyed good food. I spent time in the kitchen with my mother as a child, we cooked from the garden on our farm in the danish countryside. When I had my own children i wanted to carry this on to them and give them the upbringing I had filled with good, local and wholesome food.
What influenced your choice to open your first restaurant ‘Vanilla Food’ at Belmondos Noosa?
I wanted to give Noosa a place to come and enjoy my version of wholesome food. I had been a chef for many years but was never completely fulfilled in my work. It wasn’t until 2014 that I realised I would succeed with all the support I had behind me. My passion for fresh, organic, local ingredients that is good for my body and the planet pathed the way for VanillaFood.
Talk us through the steps you take when coming up with inspiration for delicious new recipes.
I find inspiration in a lot of things. My surrounds, the people around me (and their health) and definitely the season. I choose an ingredient that is in season and do some research about its health benefits, abundance and what flavours work well with it. I went through a phase of loving mungbeans (I was on retreat in Thailand and saw mungbeans on the menu in various dishes. I had never really looked at mungbeans as a star ingredient until then. I came home from that trip with mungbeans on my mind). We made mungbean falafels, hummus, salads with mungbeans, the delicious mungbean and sweet potato burger (the recipe is in my cookbook) and mungbean Kitchari (which we now sell in the pantry)
What has been the most personally rewarding experience for you since starting your business back in 2012?
opening the Junction cafe, Being able to step away from the kitchen and having trust in your staff to be able to carry my ideas and execute them.
The cookbook, working with talented women to create a book that is loved by many.
The Vanilla Food cookbook has been such a success. For readers who haven’t experienced your dishes before, what's one recommended creation that's a must-try for anyone looking to experience what Vanilla Food & Nilla's Pantry offer.
Anything that we sell in-store and then included in the cookbook are must try’s. I love soup, people that think soup is boring or not worth the hype haven’t tried my roast pumpkin soup. It is so easy and my favourite version of pumpkin soup- and I have made my fair share. Soup is such a good dish that freezes well. I always make a large batch at a time (not only in winter but on any rainy day there’s nothing more nourishing than a bowl of soup). Our stoneage bread is also perfect accompanied with a good soup, It’s been a staple at VF for years and we sell it at the pantry too.
Vanilla Food The Cookbook
Explore the Vanilla Food website here and access Nilla's recipes by purchasing VanillaFood The Cookbook. Don’t forget to apply the code SALE20 at checkout to enjoy a 20% discount.