Toronto based chef Voula Halliday has a new cookbook out – “Eat At Home”. It’s filled with over one hundred and fifty diverse recipes that inspire you to cook fresh food at home and to cultivate healthy choices. Halliday’s passion for food is evident throughout the yummy pages. North American Traveller chats with Chef Halliday on her Greek roots, and the importance of eating at home.
Voula Halliday: Cook & Eat At Home
NA Traveller: Congratulations on the new Cookbook Eat At Home! Would you say people are eating at home less with our busy lifestyles?
Chef Voula Halliday: Yes – I think it’s not a lack of desire, but we are overwhelmed and there are a lot of great dishes created outside the home that make it easier to eat food outside. In the introduction of the new cookbook, I talk about stopping to think about food and nutrient value, your energy and lifestyle. Not eating at home is having food cooked by someone else all the time in someone else’s kitchen, with someone else’s ingredients. It can make you a little vulnerable to not getting exactly what you need for your own strength and power.
Standing in your own kitchen, cooking your own food and standing in your own power. I wanted to take all the amazing skills I have had, all the learning, all the passion and create a little efficiency in people’s own kitchen. Eat at Home is about all our homes; it’s bringing back those recipes and cooking methods – making things easier with accessible ingredients.
NA Traveller: You come from a Greek background and we all know how good Greek food is. Did you grow up in a culinary-inspired home?
Chef Voula Halliday: My father has three brothers and all four of them are awesome in the kitchen. They worked in very high-end restaurants in Toronto. They taught me from very young how to taste; I tasted really weird things a kid wouldn’t be into like raw onions and I tried escargot and even frog legs.
My dad and my uncles always cooked together with my aunties, everyone in the kitchen. I think that made me curious and then around seven, I wanted to work in the kitchen at home with the fire and knives. My parents empowered me and didn’t say, “Oh you’re too young you might get hurt!” They taught me how to do things and they left me to do it.
I had a beautiful grandmother that was really into slow food, like pickling and making bread and all these traditional Greek foods at Easter that were really whacky different kinds of dishes. The creativity in my family comes from a long line – my mother’s uncle was even the chef to the last King of Greece! We are all storytellers.
NA Traveller: If we were to pop into your kitchen at home what would that be like?
Chef Voula Halliday: You are asking a question that goes right to the heart! My kitchen is completely well lived in; it’s the kind of kitchen you can do a pop-up in at any time. My flavor fixes are things that we keep on hand and I use my own cookbook all the time.
We like to keep things quick and easy, so, for example, my husband will go to the butcher and buy some chicken breasts. We will put the flavor fix on it while the other dinner is cooking. We will roast those up in the oven and it goes into a container and he slices it up for his lunches, or in a pinch we can make a really nice risotto since we’ve got the chicken cooked already.
The other thing you will find happening in my kitchen is that we always have leftovers in the fridge; we cook a lot of stuff intentionally adding extra to it. So instead of doing takeaway, we have our own takeaway system in the fridge. So imagine my pulled pork recipe – a big batch. The first night we ate it on rice, then it went into wraps for my daughter’s lunch and now I will reinvent what is left and make it into a Greek dish – Pastitsio with egg noodles. My fridge is for everybody!