Noosa chef shares café favourites

A Noosa chef has celebrated the launch her new cookbook sharing some of her caf¨¦s favourite dishes with her regulars at the Noosa Eat & Drink event over the weekend.

VanillaFood The Cookbook reflects the philosophy of the caf¨¦, which expanded to a second location in Noosa Junction last year after first opening its doors within Belmondos Organic Market in 2014.

Chef and owner Nilla Tomkins said she had long been considering putting pen to paper to share some of her most popular recipes after many requests from customers, but it was the COVID-19 pandemic coinciding with a phone call from her publisher that proved to be the catalyst to bring the book to life.

“I eat, breath and live creating beautiful food to keep my family, friends and customers healthy and happy, so to share this collection of recipes feels like sharing a part of myself,” Ms Tomkins said.

“VanillaFood The Cookbook, much like my caf¨¦s, is an absolute reflection of me and my philosophy around wholesome, seasonal food — it reflects both my journey and that of VanillaFood.

“I moved to Australia from Denmark 25 years ago and love to combine what my mother taught me in our home kitchen with all I have learned throughout my career as a trained chef both in restaurants and the catering industry.

“I set out to share a collection of recipes that are simple and easy to create for those who love cooking at home and have really enjoyed including some interesting snippets about what inspired these recipes, tips and tricks to achieve the best outcome and how to get the best out of seasonal ingredients.”

If the throngs of VanillaFood customers weren’t enough to endorse the recipes, local celebrity chef Matt Golinski certainly has the pedigree and Ms Tomkins was delighted when he contributed the forward for the book after personally testing each of the recipes.

“I have always admired Matt and his passion for fresh, local and seasonal ingredients which very much aligns with what we do at VanillaFood, so when the opportunity arose to have him test my recipes, I was delighted and honoured,” said Ms Tomkins.

Mr Golinski sees the book as a valuable resource for everyone, from the health conscious, experimental beginner to experienced chefs looking to expand their repertoire of good quality, easy plant-based dishes.

“For professional cooks it has become increasingly important to be aware of people’s dietary requirements and to create dishes that are healthy and nutritionally balanced for their customers,” said Mr Golinski.

“For the home cook, the shift away from traditional meat-based proteins and heavy, carbohydrate-based foods has opened up a desire to learn how to get the best from fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, without compromising the health of themselves or their family through a poorly balanced diet.”

When asked about the cookbook’s title and the importance of vanilla when naming her caf¨¦s, Ms Tomkins said she’s always loved that one of the world’s premium ingredients incorporates her own name — Nilla.

“Many people don’t know that vanilla is the second most expensive ingredient after saffron — nothing beats beautiful fresh vanilla pods and I see them as one of my kitchen’s hidden treasures,” Ms Tomkins said.

“My focus on simple cooking without too many ingredients means I am naturally drawn to those ingredients that are the real heroes of fresh, seasonal cooking. Vanilla is one of those — but it’s just one of the many featured in VanillaFood The Cookbook.”

VanillaFood The Cookbook is now available for purchase for $49.95 at VanillaFood, Belmondo’s Organic Market in Noosaville and at VanillaFood, 10 Lanyana Way in Noosa Junction. Copies can also be purchased online at and at a select number of reputable, local bookstores.

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