The team keeps growing

Last week I introduced Alyce Alexandra to the TMix+ creative team, joining our head chef Lesley Russell, Yolaine Corbin, and Tenina Holder. This week the all-female cast gets another star turn with Jemma Gray (photo below) bringing a different aspect to our content.

Jemma, who has been operating her successful website, takes a much greater interest in diet, and how food types impact on health and well being, than I admit I do (and should).

She’s a reformed sugar-holic, but not an evangelist, which is what attracted me to her; she’s more of a guide rather than a scolder, preferring to note that “I’m not about labelling foods or diets as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. My philosophy, and what works for me, is about eating healthy and natural the majority of the time but allowing myself to indulge. Balance is the key.”

Balance indeed; a little hard to achieve this fortnight after my children indulged me on Father’s Day with a bottle of the best Scottish pure malt whisky!

Photo of Jemma by James Troi (

Jemma’s recipes “do not contain refined sugar and most are free of gluten, dairy and grain”, which was exactly the case with her subtle bribe at our interview, when she offered me a hit of bliss balls (photo below), a snack made of all sorts of heathy ingredients, sweetened with dates. Even the hard nose sceptics in the offices unsnubbed their noses after gobbling them down. Got her the job too!

Jemma will be contributing all new recipes just like the balls of bliss in the summer edition of the magazine, which starts production and photography next week, and regularly on our website. She also has a full swag of recipes at

PS: We’re always on the lookout for new talent. If you think you have what it takes to be part of the team, send your CV to


Yolaine Corbin and I rocked up to Tenina Holder’s class at Alyce Alexandra’s wonderful Port Melbourne premises last night to watch her in action. Rocked was the right verb, but more to do with the show than our arrival.

HAVING A BALL: (L-R) Yolaine Corbin and Geoff Slattery were back to school at Tenina Holder’s cooking class at Alyce Alexandra’s Cooking School on Thursday. Watch this space for TMix+ cooking classes, coming soon.

Tenina went through several of the recipes in her latest book, Cooking with Tenina, and showed the very keen audience how to make the Thermomix rock’n’roll. She made the whole show look so easy, which is what true rockstars do, and the end result, lemon and olive hummus, a jerk of chicken, aioli, white chocolate bars and chocolate fudge, and meringues. You can see Tenina’s recipe for traditional fudge here.

I hadn’t been to a cooking class for nigh on 40 years, but the key outtakes from that one and this one remains the one lesson we should all learn: cooking is about preparation, and preparation. The rest comes easily, as long as you don’t get too fancy and think you’re auditioning for Masterchef when creating a dinner party. What most of us forget is getting the prep done before we start, rather than as we go. Not enough foreplay and too much frenzy.

Tenina has been whizzing the TM31 dials and pressing the TM5 buttons for longer than she would prefer to think, but the key message that came through for me is that unless the prep is done well, the machine won’t perform miracles. This is particularly true for the Thermomix when all depends on weights, times, speeds, and heat; in many cases, the machine is the method.

Cooking With Tenina is available here and for subscribers to the magazine and newsletter, you can get a discount of $9.95 (plus postage). Just punch in the code ROCKSTAR to get the discount at the checkout.

* And, if you want to know how a food item became a jerk, you can find out here

I had never heard of the word ‘hangry’ until it popped up in our latest edition in the Food Words column, courtesy of our managing editor Cathy Gowdie. According to the Oxford Dictionary boffins, it describes that feeling when you’re not only hungry but angry.

It seems a fantasy to me; you’re either hungry or angry, but the one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other, (although I must admit I did come across a version of this syndrome when traipsing around Barcelona years ago with my daughter, Kate, looking for my ideal breakfast joint. Kate does not function without breakfast, and the more cafes we passed [“grubby door, crap menu, grumpy welcome, not authentic, etc”] the more the steam would emerge from her ears.)

I’m most angry around food when restaurants treat their customers with contempt, either charging above the odds for simple dishes with dodgy ingredients, or taking an inordinate amount of time to get food to table, or both (if the door’s not shiny, I won’t go in).

The classic case of time failure is when the table has been through several bottles of wine before the first nibble arrives. That’s when you start making up words that are far less polite than ‘hangry’. But my absolute fail for restaurants is when a group of four gets their meals at sixes and sevens and nobody knows whether to be polite and wait or hoe in. My experience says hoe in, as you never know when the last plate might arrive.

The restaurant guide Zagat, which is based on the input of normal eaters and imbibers, has just produced a video which takes ‘hangry’ to new levels. It reminds me of that super Seinfeld episode, when Jerry, George and Elaine are waiting and waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. “Five, ten minutes” is a comedy classic on many levels of dialogue, interaction, politeness, impoliteness and ‘hangry’!! Elaine does a great ‘hangry’.

The Zagat and Seinfeld clips also explain why I never queue for a table.

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