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The Best Things I’ve Learned: chef and author, Nina Parker
January 5th 2016
From kitchen to Capri, culinary writer and our resident Project Me chef reveals her recipe for dealing with life’s challenges
One look at Nina Parker’s Instagram account and one thing becomes abundantly clear: good-looking food can boast both style and substance.
Author, culinary writer, chef and Director of her own food company, not only has Nina worked with some of London’s most renowned restaurants, but her unfussy, Mediterranean-style of cooking has won her a legion of fans and a book deal too. Having penned her debut book in 2014, ‘Nina St Tropez,’ featuring recipes from the South of France with a second, ‘Nina Capri’ set to hit our shores in summer 2016 and over 22,000 followers on Instagram, it seems clear that Nina has discovered the recipe for success, both in and out of the kitchen.
Having created a menu of delicious recipes for our Project Me health and fitness plans with nutritional therapist Zoe Stirling, she proves food can be both healthy and hearty. The proof’s in the pudding - trust us, we’ve tried it. We caught up with Nina to find out what she’s learned from life so far for some ample food for thought.
The best things I’ve learned about...
That you have to go through it, especially when you really want something. I try to take it as a positive as it means you’re getting that much closer to your goal - failure is just part of the process and you can take comfort from that. It makes you push on and become more determined.
My phone has to always be with me for my job - I think I’m a bit addicted(!) especially with Instagram. Wherever I am, I try to do a post - even if I’m on holiday relaxing, I’ll be thinking about what I can put in my next one as food relates to everything; holidays, restaurants...any time, any day - everybody’s got to eat! It’s important I switch off, so I tend to make a really big effort with friends and family - time for me where I can totally forget about work. I also really enjoy when my friends cook for me. They don’t let me do anything or help (although sometimes I do try to!).
Honestly, it’s not really something that I worry about. I was brought up in a family that wasn’t worried about that kind of thing. I try to look after myself and do eat well, (I’d say 70% good and 30% not-so-good), but I don’t really have the time to worry about that kind of stuff - if I look after my skin, that’s enough. If I’m worrying about all that stuff on top of everything else, I feel it’s a bit of a waste of time.
I guess money is another thing that I try not to worry about. When I left uni, I decided I was going to do something that I loved. I feel that if you love what you do, you’ll find a way to earn money - either it’ll come your way, or you’ll think of something that does.
To be really patient. If I’m at work, I try to never lose my temper or write an email in anger (it’s so easily done though!) but instead, I will try to take a day and come back to it calmer. You never know in life where you may burn bridges and never want to do that as you never know when you may meet that person further down the line.
People move on quite quickly within the catering industry. It can be very hard to find good staff, so when you do, really be there for them and praise them when they’ve done a good job.
Confidence at work
That it’s something that gets better as you get older. It’s also about the people that you are surrounded by too - if they’re nice, it’ll allow you to blossom and be happy. I’ve been in places where the people I was working with were just mean and my confidence nosedived. It’s also about what you’re doing as well. If you’re unhappy or not passionate about what you’re doing, it can really affect your confidence.
A working wardrobe
It really depends - I wear trainers all of the time as I’m always running around, (I love my Nike Air Max). Usually day-to-day, I’m quite scruffy and have no makeup on; but if I have meetings, I’ll try to look as smart as I can. If I’m seeing my publisher for example, I’ll wear a suit and heels.
That it does not come naturally to me - I try so hard though! I’m really good at organising things for my books but in life, I’m so scatty. My kitchen is immaculate but the rest of my house is a mess! I really believe there are just some people out there who are just really good at it and for who, it comes so naturally. It’s so unfair!
The digital age
I had a wake-up call early last year with regards to how important it [social media] all was for my business. In terms of sales for my books, it reaches so many people. It’s totally taken over my life for sure: I bought a new camera and carry slabs in my boot so I can take proper pictures wherever I am. You need to put so much in as people want to see quality shots now. The more you put in, the more you get out and I find the more effort I put into creating a high quality shot, the greater the response.
That there’s always a hidden reason behind people’s actions - an insecurity or another issue, so not to take it personally. However with bullies, you’ve got to stand up for yourself even if it’s sometimes hard to do.
For more culinary and healthy eating inspiration, check out more from Nina in our Project Me health and fitness guides. Click here for more information and to download the complete 24 week fitness and nutrition guide.
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