Father-daughter team Andrew and Sophie are cooking up something really special, and yes, there’s food involved! Enter What To Cook Tonight — a new Sydney-based website that finally simplifies that ever-growing list of hoarded recipes by providing readers with weekly downloadable cookbooks that feature just five recipes, a plat du jour for every night of the week (and shopping lists included!). Dad Andrew creates and cooks up every dish they feature, while stylist and photographer Sophie (who also curates a personal blog, The Littlest Things) beautifully documents the process. We got the scoop on what it takes to run a business family-style, right in time for Father’s Day…
Tell us about the creation of What To Cook Tonight:
A: The idea first came to us in the end of 2012. At the time we were hosting casual “Saturday Lunches” with friends and family. We would plan the menu throughout the week and go shopping together on Saturday morning. We never knew how many people would be coming until the last minute, and it sometimes got up to 15+! I would cook the starters and mains and Sophie would bake a dessert as well as photograph it all. This inspired us to take our combined love for food and photography further, and I came up with the idea of making a website together. As soon as I mentioned it we got to planning, but it wasn’t until a year later that we actually started properly working on it.
Where do you find inspiration when cooking up ideas for weekly recipes?
A: Absolutely anywhere – they pop into my head all the time. It’s usually when Soph and I are out and about, checking out the food scene, going to our local butcher or farmers market and figuring out what we can do with the fresh produce.
What are your favorite food memories?
As well as our infamous Saturday Lunches, there are so many fun memories that are based around food. Whenever we go on big family trips together we come home with loads of food memories. We’ve always been a family that has enjoyed entertaining and love sharing our passion of food with our family and friends.
Who is What to Cook Tonight perfect for?
When we plan our recipes, we have the everyday home cook in mind. WTCT is perfect for two types of people: those who love cooking and want to build their recipe collection and get help with their weeknight meals, and those who are bored by cooking and food and want to fall back in love with it.
Click here for the recipe for these Lamb Chops with a Warm Green Bean and Goat Cheese Feta Salad
Sophie, how did you get your start in styling & photography?
It all began when I got a Nikon 3100 for my 21st birthday. I started my personal blog, The Littlest Things, and have since then become more obsessed with photography with each passing year. At the time I was living all around the UK, and since my fiancé and I never had light-filled apartments I was more inspired by lifestyle/travel photography then.
Since we moved back to my hometown of Sydney, and my dad and I started WTCT, I’ve been much more inspired by food photography. The styling aspect has only been part of the game since we started the site – it’s very much trial and error! I’m fortunate that my parents have always loved entertaining, because they now have a great collection of “props”. I’ve never studied/attended a workshop for either photography or styling, so I’m constantly learning… Youtube + online forums are my best friend!
What have you learned from working with your father?
S: So much! I feel like I have an encyclopedia of cooking tips and tricks to last me a lifetime. It all comes more naturally to me now and I have my dad to thank for that.
What is the hardest part about planning and preparing meals for the average home cook?
A: I find that it’s challenging to come up with interesting variations on standard home cooking and making sure your meals aren’t repetitive.
Click here for the recipe for this Marinated Swordfish with Grilled Carrots, Asparagus and Eggplant
What is a challenge of working with your father?
S: He’s not very computer/internet savvy, but I also think that that’s one of our advantages as a team. He hasn’t lost himself in the rabbit hole of the internet, so I love getting his fresh perspective on things.
How did the rest of your family react when you decided to go into business together?
They were all incredibly supportive and couldn’t wait for us to start. They have been very involved from the beginning and are our biggest fans, and are always helping us come up with fresh ideas. It’s a real family business, which we absolutely love.
Your favorite ingredients:
A: Garlic, onion, olive oil, butter, lemon and salt. You cannot survive in the kitchen without these little beauties!
S: My favourite ingredients have to be onion and garlic. They are the base of nearly every recipe and as soon as you have them sautéing away, the kitchen is filled with that amazing smell that makes you instantly hungry!
Your go-to dinner recipe.
A: I no longer have one since launching What To Cook Tonight, because we experiment with new dishes every single night… except on the weekends when I’m persuaded to make the family favorite, chicken stir-fry (Sophie keeps telling me that we need to get it up soon!) Other than that, my old go-to is amatriciana pasta.
Click for the recipe for this Pork & Veal Meatballs with Choriza, Tomato Sauce and Shell Pasta
Your favorite recipe that your father makes:
S: His chicken stir-fry! I absolutely love everything my dad makes (and am constantly blown away by the way he makes the simplest of recipes so, so good) but his chicken stir-fry is the absolute best thing in the world. It’s not up on the site yet, but I remind him every single day that it needs to be (along with a how-to video) fast.
Click for the recipe for this Lamb Backstrap with White Bean Puree & Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
What do you love about working with your daughter?
A: The fact that Soph makes what I cook look so ridiculously good.
How are your creations inspired by your environment?
A: We regularly cook our meat and seafood on our gas barbecue on our deck, which is very Sydney-ish. From its large Asian and Italian food cultures, to the fish markets and seafood scene, we are constantly inspired by Sydney’s great food atmosphere.
Click here for the recipe for this Thai Beef Salad with Rice Noodles
Your favorite part of your job:
S: I cannot believe I get to do what I love and am so passionate about every single day. My favourite part is that there are so many different aspects to our day-to-day tasks — some days we’re cooking up a storm in the kitchen, other days we are recipe writing or photo editing, and then other days we are on little food excursions throughout the city, searching for new recipes. It’s all so much fun, and we have an absolute blast!
Your most memorable Father’s Day:
A: As it turns out, my many years of Father’s Days have all blended into one. But working with my daughter feels like Father’s Day every day.
Your go-to dinner recipe:
S: Homemade chicken fajitas with all the fun extras, like fresh homemade guacamole, tomato salsa and grilled corn. I love making them with heaps of chilli, coriander and lime juice… yum!
Check out What to Cook Tonight for more culinary creations from Andrew and Sophie!
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