I am currently caught in a frustrating battle to figure out what exactly has gone wrong with the connection between my camera and computer. I can’t imagine anything so basic happening to Vanessa and Ingrid Opera, the sister act behind New Zealand food blog Foodopera.
These two juggle blogging with babies, magazine shoots, day jobs and photography – but Vanessa still found the time to fill in the blanks for this week’s Be My Guest.
|Vanessa and Ingrid Opera (Image: Gemma Cathcart Neuendorf)|
What’s your blog about?
Our blog is about food, recipes we love, recipes we have created and beautiful photography. It also features some behind-the-scenes posts relating to lighting and how to get published, as well as a list of child-friendly cafes.
When did you start it? Why?
Our blog started when we created a few sets of recipe gift cards sold in boutique gift shops. We wanted a place to share our recipes and photographs and, over time, wanted to create a portfolio of work.
We are busy working mums so our food reflects things that are relatively easy, not too heavy on your wallet and of course delicious to eat. We have also added a few posts that feature behind the scenes of our photoshoots and tips on becoming a published food blogger. One of the best things that has come from our blog has been the chance to meet other bloggers and attend the first New Zealand Food Bloggers Conference.
|Peach Pastries (Image: Foodopera)|
Do you have any culinary training or professional experience?
Nope, neither of us are professionally trained. Our father, who is Italian, probably sparked our interest. I have been really keen on cooking from a young age, while Ingrid has found her feet in the last few years.
Both of us have spent time working in hospitality, ranging from a fish and chip shop, bakery, rib and wedge joint, brasserie-style restaurant, a Pizza Express in Dublin, running a cafe in a golf course in an English village and finally cooking in an upmarket French ski resort.
Who are your food heroes?
I know Ingrid quite likes Bill Granger, his simplicity and freshness. I used to be really into Nigella Lawson, I just loved her appetite for everything food. Rick Stein is also a bit of an old favourite too. However currently I am into anything Asian, I love Kylie Kwong, her books and TV show.
I own HEAPS of cook books so its actually really difficult to have just one hero. My aunty recently gave me the book Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi that has amazing ways with vegetables and I picked up “Dinner at Matt’s” by Matt Moran at the library. It features fancy pants food that you could cook at home. The photography is great too.
|Chilli choko chutney (Image: Foodopera)|
Masterchef and TV food shows: hot or not?
Ingrid’s not too fussed on Masterchef, however I LOVE it. I have a series link booked on MySky and watch it most nights. I actually auditioned for New Zealand’s second series but nerves got the better of me and I told one of the judges (Ross Burden) how to make scrambled eggs instead of custard.
The food channel is one of my favourites too. I will watch anything food-related.
What are your three favourite posts on your blog?
The balsamic mushrooms one, in which we try to recreate the mushrooms at Dizengoff café in Ponsonby, Auckland.
How to love brussel sprouts – they really are delicious done this way.
And for pizza and pie lovers, our sister vs sister cheese food fight.
|Brussel sprouts sauteed in wholegrain mustard (Image: Foodopera)|
Tell us about another blog you love.
This is a hard one as there are so many awesome food blogs.
A favourite from when we started is Cannelle et Vanille – it’s pretty, romantic and it looks like she is living the dream.
We like the simplicity of Spoon Fork Bacon and the great styling and design.
I have also been checking out Sips and Spoonfuls recently – it’s lovely.
What’s for dinner tonight?
You have me on this one. I don’t know what Ingrid is having but it’s got to be healthier and more exciting than dinner at our house tonight. It’s oven chips (if you try hard you can imagine they are hand-cut and fried in goose fat!) and pork sausages with a good squirt of tomato sauce and mustard. There is a glass of chardonnay in my hand too.
|Crispy fried calamari (Image: Foodopera)|
What are your day jobs? What else do you do?
I am a teacher at a North Shore intermediate school, currently teaching graphics/design and English to mostly Korean students.
Ingrid is a graphic designer/art director for a large publishing company. We are both currently on maternity leave having had our second babies nine days apart – how convenient is that?!
We are currently juggling our time looking after our kids, writing our blog and growing Foodopera the brand. We are currently writing our third food fight spread in New World’s REAL magazine and have just finished the Christmas shoot.
Who do you cook for?
We both cook for our boys, both little and big. We get a list emailed at every family gathering saying who’s cooking what and Ingrid is stoked to be elevated from the regular ‘green salad’ to more complicated fare. We also cook for our nanny (Nana Val) whenever she is around helping us out (always). She loves her coffee and often specifies exactly what she would like for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I used to mix dried herbs into our family cat’s jellymeat and would always bring her treats home from a restaurant I worked at. She would hear my car down the drive and come running.