A ray of sunshine in a locked down world, one of our favourite Australian creators, Jessica Nyugen started building her following during the first lockdown in Melbourne in early 2020. Jess's easy-to-follow recipes, tablescapes popping wih colour, her impeccable style and love of beautiful prints had us dreaming of nights filled with friends, food and laughter. For Jess, simillar to us at home, cooking became an evening ritual, an event that brought colour at the end of a locked down day.
To celebrate the first week of summer and the release of our much anticipated Emica print, we asked Jess to to share with us her go-to summer cocktail. She immedately said it must be this incredibly simple and refreshing Pina Colada recipe. Inspired by the tones of our Emica print, the star ingredient of this recipe is lime juice which adds an extra summery zing to every glass.
Now we are out of lockdown - we will be whipping out the blender and inviting our friends over for some face to face time over a glass or two. The perfect after-beach day wind down.
A Q&A with Jessica Nguyen
How did you first ignite your passion for cooking?
I grew up in a family that loves food, cooking and entertaining. It’s our love language and the way we celebrate and commiserate, so I’ve always been surrounded by it, though I didn't really appreciate the skill I learnt from my parents until I moved out of home and had to start cooking for myself.
Fashion and food feel like two totally different concepts, yet you seem to fuse them together so seamlessly. How do you approach both at once?
I see food and fashion as a form of self expression and use both to be creative and have fun. Life is too short to wear boring clothes or eat boring food (EDITORS NOTE: We would agree here Jess!).
For those who may be afraid to step out of their comfort zone to pursue their creative outlet, what’s your best advice to take the first leap? I don’t necessarily think you have to take a leap, as that’s not what happened to me. I was made redundant from my previous job and that is how I was forced to change my career and pivot into food. However, I do think if there’s something you’re really passionate about, make it your hobby and build your skills and expertise in that area on the side in addition to your current job so that one day, when a situation or opportunity presents itself, you’ve already built up the experience to take that leap should you wish to pursue it. I was sharing food content and recipes well before it became my full time job.
What was it about our Emica print that inspired your Pina Colada recipe?
I always love a matching set, a top and skirt is versatile as you can either wear it together or style them separately to create multiple outfits. This outfit is flowy, beachy and tropical and so I HAD to pair it with the most fitting and iconic tropical cocktail out there, the PIÑA COLADA!
What’s your go-to dish to put together when you don’t have much time to prepare or cook?
Pasta, always! You can whip up a simple one in less than 15 minutes and I am always in the mood for pasta.
What cocktail and food pairings will you be making this holiday season?
Many! They’ll definitely be a festive punch in the mix, just because punches are a great cocktail to prepare in advance and then allows your guests to serve themselves once they arrive. Summery cocktails like an Aperol Spritz, Spicy Margarita and Pornstar Martini are crowd pleasers that I’ll definitely be making that will pair perfectly with summary food like seafood, salads and fruity desserts. There will also be plenty of champagne because champagne goes with everything.
And lastly, what is one skill you think a beginner cook should learn when they start stepping into the kitchen?
I think if you're a beginner cook, build a small list (five or so) of easy recipes that you love to eat, learn how to make them so that they can be part of your weekly meals and recipes you can default to when you don’t know what to cook. My pick would be to learn how to make a simple pantry pasta, a salad worthy of bringing to a dinner party or for summer entertaining, a rice dish like Fried Rice and maybe some kind of simple protein dish like learning how to stir fry, cook and steak or grill some fish.
JESSICA NGUYEN'S ZINGY PINA COLADA RECIPE
Serves - 4
- 240ml of pineapple juice
- 120ml of White Rum
- 120ml of coconut cream
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 cups of ice
- Optional: ½ cup of fresh pineapple, plus extra for garnishing
- Place all ingredients (pineapple juice, rum, coconut cream, lime juice, ice) into a blender and blend till smooth.
- Pour into a large or long glass.
- Garnish with a wedge of pineapple on the rim of your glass.
- Share with friends!