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Freelance Food Writer connecting with Il Papiro

Posted on3 Years ago
Freelance Food Writer connecting with Il Papiro


Vanessa Gordon

Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a freelance writer from Melbourne. My first career was in hospitality, after university I moved to London and spent several years managing a fine dining restaurant in Soho, London. I have fond memories of my time in London, I learnt so much about food, and people in my time there. Everything in Europe is close by, it's quite easy to jump on a plane and be in a different country in a few hours. Travelling and being able to explore food and culture is where I get the most inspiration for my writing and cooking. After many years living, working and travelling overseas I moved back to Melbourne. A career change meant I moved from hospitality into freelance food writing and a great job at a digital agency. I've always found a way to work with food, whether it's working in a restaurant, recipe development, or food styling and photography which I've been doing more of in recent times. After so many years working in restaurants, I really enjoy eating out, but I truly love eating at home the most, whether my home or the homes of friends and family (when not in lockdown of course). The food I most enjoy to eat and cook is good-quality, thoughtfully prepared and seasonal, though much more relaxed and homestyle these days. My food blog Cosy Cucina, Cucina being the Italian word for kitchen, is a place where I share the food I love to cook and eat at home, inspired by my own food story. I really believe that food makes us feel deeply connected to our memories and the people we love, it gives us comfort, nourishment and helps us create a food identity. I started Cosy Cucina throughout lockdown as a creative outlet, it's been wonderful to share my passion for food, cooking and writing with people. When i'm not writing or cooking, I'm likely reading. I have an ever growing book collection, which I've added to quite a bit in recent months.

What inspires your Italian Connection?

I’m half Italian myself, my mother is Italian and moved from Calabria to Melbourne with her family when she was young. I've been very lucky in that despite growing in a small suburb of Melbourne which is so far from Italy, I was surrounded by Italian food and culture from a young age which has definitely inspired my Italian connection. In many ways it's no surprise I ended up working in restaurants, and now writing about food.


I’ve travelled to Italy many times, when I lived in London I'd travel across whenever I could to explore new cities and regions, particularly for the local food and wine. One of the visits I enjoyed most was a long stay in a Tuscan Villa in the Chianti Hills almost ten years ago, the romance and beauty of Tuscany have always stayed with me since that trip and I’m desperate to go back again when possible.

your first Il Papiro memory?

My first Il Papiro memory is of visiting the Melbourne store, I remember being blown away by the feeling of the store and the craftsmanship of the products which were really different from anything I'd seen before. It was like stepping into another time and place, which was magical for me seeing as I’d never travelled outside of Australia at the time. The first thing I bought was a recipe journal, I took it with me on my travels and collected recipes from all over the place. I really like that the journal has sections for antipasti, primi, carne, pesce, contorni, dolci and varie recipes, it helps to keep me organised. I find that having beautiful stationery like this makes recipe journaling such an enjoyable experience, you end up with your own cookbook of handwritten recipes capturing the joy of cooking to feed family, friends and yourself.

your favourite Il Papiro Product?

There are too many to choose just one favourite, this is such a difficult question to answer it's like choosing a favourite pasta - impossible. Of all the products I have, my favourites include the recipe journals bound in hand-marbled paper, the monogrammed stationery and my new favourite the leather-bound journals. I also have a special wax seal and a photo album that were gifts for my wedding which I treasure. The recipe journals are so special, I've filled several of them over the years with my favourite recipes from the menus of the restaurant I managed. Also my most treasured family recipes, recipes i've collected from dear friends, or dishes i've discovered through travelling. Over on my blog Cosy Cucina, I've written a guide to creating an heirloom family recipe collection. It’s such a magical endeavour to undertake, creating a family heirloom for yourself and future generations, whilst developing new connections through cooking with the people you love. Read all about my experience: Cosy Cunina In Collaboration with Il Papiro

Share Something you love

I love food - cooking, baking, talking about food, writing about food, reading about it, food in all formats. Over the lockdown, I thought it would be fun to put together a collection of cake recipes in an eBook. Something I've missed very much is seeing family and friends, most weekends pre-lockdown I'd usually have something sweet on the go for a gathering. I've missed sharing meals and slices of homemade cakes with people so much, I'm sure that I'm not alone in feeling this way. I’ve been collaborating with a designer to create an eBook which will be released later in the year. The eBook will feature a small selection of cake recipes made with fruits, my preference for cake is always one that features seasonal fruits with anything from blood plums and pears, to apricots or peaches. I’ve also reached out to a handful of chefs, bakers, cooks and foodies who I know for some expert baking advice. One of the best things about a cookbook, aside from the recipes, is the tips and tricks you pick up from the authors, so I thought I'd try to do something similar, but on a much smaller scale. I’ve shared one of my all-time favourite cakes below which is included in the eBook, a simple and delicious whole orange and almond cake finished with lightly toasted almonds and a generous dusting of icing sugar. It seems to be able to convert even those people who claim not to enjoy cake (in my opinion they just haven't found the right cake yet).

Instagram @_nessgordon

Vanessa's Orange & Almond Cake Recipe

"Of all the products I have, my favourites include the recipe journals bound in hand-marbled paper..."

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  • Pe*** ***ss

    Pe*** ***ss 10/18/2020 Reply

    I wish I had a favourite recipe that I could cook, sadly everything I try to cook ends up burnt. My best effort was “cooking” garlic bread and the outside was black and the inside still cool.
  • Vi*** *de

    Vi*** *de 10/17/2020 Reply

    Great article. Love anything to do with Italy and food too. Our favourite family recipe is my mother’s gnocchi. No matter how many times I make them they still don’t taste like hers but I’ll keep trying
  • Gi***** ****do

    Gi***** ****do 10/17/2020 Reply

    I loved everything about this article. Starting with Vanessa's love of Italian food, sharing her recipes and how she uses the beautiful products from Il Papiro to archive her work.

    It got me thinking about my own experience of visiting Il Papiro in Melbourne and in Italy over the years to purchase special treasures to gift, or to keep for myself.

    My favourite family recipe is my late nonna Maria's pasta con il nero di seppie. xx
  • Je************

    Je************ 10/17/2020 Reply

    I really enjoy eating out, but I truly love eating at home the most". Such a simple line but this line really resonated with me. Ever since moving out, I've enjoyed the freedom to choose what I do and eat, but there are times when I crave a simple, homecooked meal with my family. I've wondered this so many times in the last two years - "why doesn't this Bo Kho (Vietnamese Braised Beef Stew) taste like mum's??" It might be the real coconut juice that she uses, or the spices that she buys from our home suburb. It's not everyone's favourite, but every time we make it together, I love how everyone has their own role in making it. My dad would chop the coconut and pour the water out. My sister would chop up the carrot. I would chop the meat. My mum would prepare the spices and bring all the bits and bobs together. When we finally sit down to dinner, my dad would mop up the sauce with a thick slice of sourdough (Australian culture sneaking in!) and the rest of us would ladle it over our steaming white rice. It's not a unique dish by far. In fact, every Vietnamese family and restaurant has their own iteration, but it's my mum's bo kho that I want to learn.
  • Fe******

    Fe****** 10/17/2020 Reply

    I love baking and trying new recipes and that orange cake seems delicious.

    My favorite family recipe is from Calabria, where my parents are from.

    I remember making Fileja - a typical rustic pasta shape similar to more famous Cavatelli.
    We would pick a Sunday morning, my dad would make the dough, cut it into pieces and give them to my sisters and I to roll them into the shape using thin bamboo sticks.
    Obviously, we would race against each other to make as many as possible.

    My grandparents would make the sauces . My grandma was in charge of making the ragu' and my grandpa the bean sauce. The beans had to be Cannellini and he would start cooking them the day before in the Pignata - a typical pot made of clay.

    My dad and I would take some pasta to my grandparents and take same of the sauces in exchange. It was a perfect way of sharing food and feel connected.
    Sometimes we would have lunch all together.

    I haven't make Fileja in a while now and I can't wait to go back to Italy and have my family to make them all together again.
  • Sa****

    Sa**** 10/17/2020 Reply

    I unfortunately never had the honour of meeting my Nonna, but one thing I know is that she was an excellent cook and she came from alone of great cooks ????. A recipe of hers that my Mum has kept is Tagliatelle al Ragu.

    Spaghetti Bolognese is practically nonexistent in Bologna — the real deal is Tagliatelle al Ragu, a handmade fresh egg pasta. It’s combined with a thick ragu of onions, carrots, pork, veal, and a little bit of tomato. Simple yet super delicious!
  • Th***

    Th*** 10/16/2020 Reply

    I'd love to visit Tuscany one day and jot down my daily thoughts on the il Papiro journal.

    A favourite family recipe is mum's sweet and sour pork, with perfectly fried pieces of pork in a light flour batter and this perfect balanced sauce that's sweet, sour, salty and super fragrant.
  • La***

    La*** 10/16/2020 Reply

    Your post has me longing to return to my beloved Rome and my family there. One of my favourite family recipes is the traditional Roman crostata alla marmellata which every Roman family has a personal version of. I have tried many but my mum’s is still my favourite, beautiful shortbread crust and sour cherry jam. It recalls breakfast at a Roman bar and the most amazing crostata from Boccione in the Jewish Ghetto.
  • Dh*****

    Dh***** 10/16/2020 Reply

    Osso Bucco is the family favourite in the instance of this Sri Lankan born Antipodean who has got her heart in Italy!
  • Jo****

    Jo**** 10/16/2020 Reply

    An inspiring article which has me feeling nostalgic about growing up in an Italian family with some great cooks from my Nonna to my aunties and of course my mum. My favourite recipe’s are my Nonna’s gnocchi and my mum’s lasagna.
  • Sa**

    Sa** 10/16/2020 Reply

    Having moved to the other side of the world, I often regret not having learnt to cook from my nonne who don't follow recipes or measure ingredients but cook "a occhio", they go by the eye. The first recipe I would record is frittelle con la crema, a Veneto dessert we eat only during Carnevale. They are the best. My nonna learnt to make them from a friend who didn't want to share the recipe. She watched her making the small round donughts filled with custard and made them every year until her memory could assist. She has now dementia. I am glad I took one afternoon during high school to weight every ingredient while she was making them. Hers were the best frittelle in the world!
  • Je*** ** ****co

    Je*** ** ****co 10/16/2020 Reply

    This beautiful post has got me all sentimental, and I’m feeling very nostalgic for my beloved nonne.

    We are also Calabrese—something special in itself—and with Calabrese heritage comes a collection of big, bold flavours, and even bigger personalities. Chilli, garlic, onion, ‘nduja...

    No one makes cotolette like my Nonna Antonietta used to. Sounds so silly, but the magic mix of stale breadcrumbs, the right amount of Parmesan, and a handful of freshly picked and chopped parsley from her garden... There was nothing like it.

    And now, we only have the memories and recipes. It’s our duty to pass these along to the next generations.
  • Te****

    Te**** 10/16/2020 Reply

    Such a beautiful inspiring article favourite Family recipe is my Nonnas Pizza. It’s those secret tips they give you that make them fail proof x
  • Pa****** ********

    Pa****** ******** 10/16/2020 Reply

    Great friends, food, italy and family :) my favourite recipe is my nonna's home made arancini's made with saffron and piselli and her pasta di lenticchie. X
  • Gi*******

    Gi******* 10/16/2020 Reply

    What's not to like about Italian culture, and let's face it... Italian cuisine! If I had to pick a favourite family recipe it would be my mother's Savoiardi. Greater than the sum of its parts!
  • Fi***

    Fi*** 10/16/2020 Reply

    Food in all formats - haha I love that - I’m going to use that in the future!!
    My favourite family recipe is my mother’s fruit mince pies - they bring the entire family together. And come December my mum is making dozen after dozen at every chance possible because she can hardly keep up with demand!
  • Ma***

    Ma*** 10/16/2020 Reply

    Such an inspiring article! My favourite family recipe is my mother’s Tiramisu. xx
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