When working with Emiko to design her Tagliolini Al Limone poster, we had that chance to interview her about her history working in food and she shares an important lesson on removing the guilt from pleasures.
What was your first job in food?
I got a job waitressing in a cafe when I was 20. In the job interview I may have told them a little white lie to get the job — that I had worked as a waitress before!
What is your favourite bar or restaurant for a date night in your city?
Maggese. It is a beautiful little restaurant in San Miniato, probably my favourite eating experience in Tuscany, really. A great atmosphere, elegant, completely vegetarian and great wines. So special!
If you weren’t living where you currently are, where would you be?
There was an idea to move back to Canberra where my parents live — then the pandemic hit and we ended up staying in Tuscany and buying our first home! But I do love Canberra, it doesn’t get a good rap from people who don’t know it now, but the food scene is wonderful, there’s incredible local produce around and I love how easy it is to get around. A great place to raise a family too.
What is your all-time favourite kitchen utensil?
It’s pretty simple because I don’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets but I love my kitchen knife. There’s one in particular I use all the time, it’s handmade by a talented young guy in Florence, Fabio Figus, who has the tiniest shop imaginable.
Top 5 pantry items you can’t live without?
Extra virgin olive oil, salt, soy sauce, flour, rice.
If the world ends tomorrow, what will your final meal be?
This changes for me all the time! I’m always changing my mind, but I think it would have to be a very simple, very nostalgic and very special dish for me. Like my Japanese grandmother’s clear clam soup, or my mother’s stir fried egg and rice.
What has been your biggest kitchen experiment gone wrong?
There are a few, but recently I was just telling someone about the time(s) I tried to make liqueur from the wasted leaves that get plucked off artichokes to get to the good part. We love artichokes and eat a lot of them, I hated seeing all that waste and tried to make something of them! Not good.
What’s your weird go-to midnight snack when no one is around to judge?
Well, firstly I never worry about what anyone thinks of what I am eating — guilt does not exist for me when I’m enjoying something I love! But I do have some special treats that no one else in my family like and so I buy them for myself and get to eat them all, like frozen, sweet red bean buns that I steam in a bamboo steamer. It’s quite a process as I don’t have a microwave, so at midnight I’m much more likely to be found drinking a huge mug of fennel tea.