Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 the year that was

Hey guys

I can't even believe we are here again, how fast has this year has gone? 2012  has been CRAY!!! I've experienced so many highs, a few lows but mostly it's been a year of progression both in my career and personal life. As a journalist I've again met the most amazing people, travelled to places I never been before and more than anything have had a blast doing it all. In no particular order here's a list of who and what left a lasting impression on me in 2012 and what I've got planned for 2013:

  • HOME - Perth: Last year I was given the role of food writer for ishoperth magazine covering everything food in our CBD. It was my dream role and one in which I thrived in, however earlier this year our close-knit team were told our beloved magazine would be no longer and that was the end of that. Since the magazine folded my love and passion for food has continued to be documented on this blog and on the Cooking in Choos Facebook page. Food to me is life. It's family - it's what living is all about and what better place to do it in then our hometown. Perth is growing up, people, right before our very eyes our city(ranked in the top 10 liveable cities in the world) is making people stand up and take notice. Last year I reconnected with our city and was pleasantly surprised. This year I've again fallen in love. The nightlife is getting better, the shopping is fab - no longer do we need to save our pennies for a weekend trip to Melbourne (nothing against Melbourne - I LOVE YOU) we can do it all here and the restaurant scene is holding its own and this is just the beginning. We have Chanel, we have The Crown and in March we get Jamie's Italian - see they know where it's at. Get on the P-Train before it's too late!!
  • Homegrown talent: I love, love, love talented Perth peeps. Designers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, writers you name it - there are so many talented people out there and this year I came across a few. Last year I spoke about the fabulous Belle BijouxAurelio CostarellaSteph AudinoDebbie Kelly , Dianna Monastra and Keiko Uno - these talented designers seriously blow my mind time and time again - I love their work. This year however I came across another designer whose attention to detail, eclectic designs and friendly and down-to-earth nature really caught my eye. The man in question - Shane Newton of ZSADAR. There are a few Mr Nice Guys in the fashion industry and I have to say Shane is definitely one of them but not only is he nice he is super talented too. Shane has recently been nominated in the Perth Fashion Festival's WA Fashion Awards Designer for Tomorrow category along with Steph Audino and I wish them both all the luck in the world. Also on my radar this year was philanthropist Ros Worthington . I have followed this amazing lady's journey from afar for a few years now and earlier this year I was lucky enough to be introduced to her at a cricket dinner of all places. Since that meeting in January we have become close friends and there are few women I admire more than her. She is one of the reasons my sister-in-law hold events for charities (more on that later) and I hope to one-day be even just a quarter of the wonderful woman she is. I can't thank this lady enough for the amazing work she does and I'm so proud to have her in my circle of friends. Another person who left an impression on me was fellow journalist and fashion columnist Haili Zwiercan Pue of All Ze Details. I met this Texan pocket-rocket at the Perth Fashion Festival along with fellow blogger Donna Dee of Style Hunter fame and we all instantly connected. Both these ladies are seriously talented and know fashion. We've struck up a friendship, that I'm hoping will last a lifetime and both have taught me things that I never knew. Seriously this little Texan has been getting around Perth and trying things I'd never even heard of. Thanks for sharing Haili!!! On the subject of fashion bloggers another lady who knows her way around Perth's most stylish is Bonnie Doran of Bonnie Friday fame. Bonnie's blog has recently undergone a transformation just in time for the Perth Fashion Festival's WA Fashion Awards in which she has been nominated in the Blogger of the Year category. She is definitely one Perth creative with her finger on the pulse! Last but not least is a lady I interviewed last month. This woman has seen so much tragedy and through it all she has been a tower of strength for her family. I speak of Dee Loiacono of Dee's Sweet Boutique  - read her touching story HERE . All of these people even though so different, share the same qualities - professionalism, passion, overall niceness and are oh so easy to work with. I urge you all to check out their websites, Facebook pages and support them all - they seriously are talented individuals. 
  • Food for thought: For me - The Crown Perth came out trumps in the food department. I mean give me Bistro Guillaume, Modo Mio, Nobu and The Merrywell and really there is nothing left to say. You've got three cuisines covered and some dude-food that hits the spot - EVERY SINGLE TIME. Don't even get me started on their sliders - OMG!!! Another Italian restaurant that nails it every time is Galileo in Shenton Park (no website), real Italian food, presented beautifully and so reasonably priced. If you haven't been there yet - run don't walk!  As for my choice of drinking holes  - FIVE Bar in Mt Lawley again was my favourite place to hang while new kid on the bar block - Print Hall had me at hello. 
  • Travel: This year I again travelled to the US and Canada visiting New York, Las Vegas, LA and Montreal. I love the States and I know everyone says it but I really do love New York. The vibe, the people, the Chrysler Building, fashion, food and bars - it really is my dream destination and I miss it every day. Another destination that took my breath away was Montreal. This beautiful city with a mix of old and new is seriously breath-taking and a place I hope to visit again soon. As for nationally Melbourne again was on the hit-list and during Grand-Prix, Food and Wine Fest and Melbourne Fashion Festival there was no better time to explore this city. I can't wait to go back there.
  • Charity: When it came to charities I supported Down Syndrome WA, Telethon and along with my sister-in-law held special events for Breast Cancer Care WA and the Better Life Foundation WA . Both of the events were held at the  Rydges Perth and thanks to their support were a huge success. Both Daniela (my sister-in-law) and I have been holding these events for a little while now and with each one the urge to help other charities becomes greater and so as of next year we will be launching our  business MACI Boutique Events in the hope that we can make a difference to charities close to our heart one celebration at a time. I hope readers of this blog will support Daniela and I on our journey and I will be sure to keep you all up to date with what we do next. 
  • 2013: Next year I'm hoping my work and scheduled travels over east and perhaps abroad will bring with them even more adventures, opportunities and the beginning of new friendships. I'm also looking forward to rediscovering my family history as I document the recipes and stories of the wonderful women in my family as I put together my first cookbook in honour of my Portuguese heritage. I was lucky enough to be part of the Beaufort Street Festival Cookbook and Charlie's Kitchen Cookbook so am looking forward to putting all my stories, recipes and pictures together - exciting times! Last but not least I'm looking forward to seeing MACI Boutique Events raise thousands of dollars for charity, so far we have raised around $40,000  for different charities across Australia and we cannot wait to raise more. Until then I bid 2012 goodbye and welcome 2013 in the hope it will bring myself and all my followers good things.  Happy New Year everyone!!!
So what about you guys, how was 2012 for you? Do you have some beautiful memories or do you have any New Year Resolutions you'd like to share ? I'd love to hear from you xxx

P.S On a side note if you are still looking for somewhere special to go - my pick would be the gorgeous new The Terrace Hotel in the city. Enjoy canapes, Moss Wood wines, Monteith's Brewing Co and bubbles by Champagne Delamotte at the reasonable price of $125. Tickets are running out so I would hurry if I were you! 

2012 you've been amaze now bring on 2013!!!
Donna Dee, myself, designer Steph Audino & fashion columnist Haili Z
MACI Boutique Events - April in Paris for Breast Cancer Care WA. L-R Me, MC Ebbeny Faranda, designer Stephanie Audino with mum Connie and Daniela.

Ros, me, my sister Sandra & my mum at the April in Paris event earlier this year.

The designers and I at our MACI Boutique Events Christmas Designer Preview

Charlie's and Beaufort St Festival books were so fun to be involved in, now to trace back my Portuguese ancestors and go on a culinary journey through the mother country.

Lots planned for 2013 make sure you visit our FACEBOOK page to keep up to date!

Cheers to 2013!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas xxx

Wishing all my followers a very Merry Christmas! Be safe, indulge & enjoy the company of loved ones this festive season. Thanks for all your support this year ♥ Cooking In Choos xxx

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Designer prefers simplicity, elegance

Belinda Cipriano, The West Australian
Updated December 17, 2009, 6:30 am
Festive flair: Jewellery designer Belle Bijoux with Elianah, decorating their tree.
WA News/Rob Duncan © Festive flair: Jewellery designer Belle Bijoux with Elianah, decorating their tree.

    Designer Belle Bijoux reveals why she prefers simplicity and elegance at Christmas.
    THE DECORATIONS: My home is always decorated quite simply but elegantly.
    Candles and bowls of star anise and cinnamon sticks give the house a traditional Christmas fragrance.
    The shelf above the fireplace is always adorned with Christmas crafts my eldest has made at school over the years - paper angels, painted pine cones and an advent calendar.
    Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin singing Christmas carols are always on my stereo at this time of year.
    THE THEME: Antique-inspired.
    THE TREE: Our towering Christmas tree stands proudly in the living room of our Fremantle home.
    It is decorated with treasured ornaments - some collected from my travels and others passed down through my family.
    My favourite piece, a small glass angel from Venice, is perched on top.
    THE MENU: The first half of Christmas day is spent with my family, followed by a late lunch with my partner's family.
    It is truly a day of overeating and overindulging!
    Brunch at my sister Sarah's is always a wonderfully casual affair.
    The kids roll around on the grass and splash in the paddling pool while the adults feast on fruit, pastries, and fruit bread slathered in homemade preserves.
    My sister skilfully mixes pitchers of spicy bloody Marys and champagne with blood orange juice for Christmas drinks.
    It is then time to head to my partner's family's house for a late lunch.
    Roast turkey, ham, seafood, roasted vegetables and salads are piled high along the long dinner table.
    After our bellies are full we all adjourn to the family room to start the Secret Santa gift giving.
    My contribution to the day's feast? Every year I love making fruit mince tarts and displaying them on a particularly kitsch five-tiered cake stand.
    TRADITIONS: Christmas morning would not be complete without an early morning swim at the beach.
    My partner and I stroll down to South Beach with the kids and spend the morning playing in the cool calm water.
    THE GIFTS: I love giving unique, sentimental presents.
    This year Elianah, 10, will receive a gold antique locket from Santa, and my youngest, Evangeline, will be given floaties, a bucket and spade and a pair of red sequined shoes so she can tap her heels together.
    I usually go to Remedy for quirky homewares, Aesop products and beautiful stationery; New Edition for books on food, wine, design, photography, philosophy and architecture; Churchill's Antiques for perfume bottles and vintage jewellery; Old Bridge Cellars for petite bottles of sparkling moscato and riesling; Rochelle Adonis for her famous white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio nougat; Simon Johnson for cheese and coffee.
    A week before Christmas, Elianah and I make our own wrapping paper; embellishing rolls of brown paper with glitter and potato stamps. I also love Mokoh's Christmas cards.

    So this is Christmas

    Yep it's that time of the year again and I can't believe it's come around so quickly. Grant it I love the holidays, the parties, the food, the catch-ups but where the heck has this year gone? 

    Work finished up yesterday and I get to chill out for a little, while indulging in the craziness that is the silly season. So what's the plans for the next two weeks?  A lot of fun in the sun, family and food!!! I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to this break as nothing means more to me than this.

    What do I want for Christmas? That ones a hard one this year. Normally I can reel off a list as long as my arm but this year I can't even string together a couple of things and as much as it sounds cheesy, all I can come up with is health and happiness. 

    To be honest I much prefer to give out gifts then to receive them. Watching loved ones - especially tiddliewinks open up the gifts you hand picked for them is just, joyous! 
    Last night was one of those moments and it really was a sight to behold, the excitement, giggles and screeches are infectious and embodies the Christmas spirit and to me is gift enough.

    So now I ask you what is the thing you are most looking forward to this Christmas season? Is there something you are dreaming of? Whatever it is I wish you the most amazing, festive season filled with love, happiness and health. 

    Here are few festive images taken last week by the ever so lovely Nicole Duncan Photography at the always obliging and fabulous Rydges Perth

    Merry Christmas or as my families like to say Boas Festas or Buon Natale xxxx

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Tis the Season to be BUSY!

    Crazy is the best way to describe the last few weeks for me! Between work, getting my website up and running, attending events and organising one of my own I haven't had a moment to myself. Work finishes up in a just over a week and let me tell you I cannot wait to take some time off to chill..... but before this I've got a few things to fill you in on, so let's begin.

    About  a month ago I visited the new Betty Tran store to meet the lady herself and check out her new location at Raine Square. I've emailed and chatted to Betty over social media so to actually sit down and have a coffee with this lady who comes from the most humble of beginnings was wonderful. I'll be posting my interview with Betty in full over the coming days but I'll leave you with this, Betty's work ethic, designs and motivation are truly inspiring and hearing her story made me want to do and be better . We are lucky to have an outstanding talent such as Betty at our finger-tips and if you haven't done so already make sure you visit her soon to see just what everyone else is talking about.

    Checking out the Betty Tran's newest store at Raine Square

    Following on from Betty, I was lucky enough to get an invite from the Hawaiian Group to a  special VIP Evening with Donna Hay. I've followed Donna Hay's journey from the very early days and loved her work as food editor of Marie Claire Magazine so when the opportunity to meet her came up I jumped (well begged) at the chance. 

    Here for the launch of her new book Fresh & Light she joked it featured healthier-style recipes which she stuck to cooking from Monday to Friday or Thursday if she started the weekend early. Donna Hay's cooking style is simple and anyone afraid of getting in the kitchen  should definitely try out some of her cookbooks - I have no doubt they will be greeted by success. Super easy, yet delicious she breaks things down, using everyday ingredients to create easy lunches, quick dinners and this book is no different. 

    So what do you eat when you're at a Donna Hay event - a Donna Hay inspired feast, that's what. Husby and  I tried the goat's curd, broad bean and mint bruchettas - so yummy and the beef and radish summer rolls - delightful. 

    Donna describes her latest cookbook as a combination of fresh ingredients, pantry staple and a few personal tricks for a lighter approach. "It's all about flavour and eating well," she said.

    I have a signed copy of Light and Fresh to giveaway and will be announcing the competition on Facebook tomorrow so keep an eye on the page for all the details. In the meantime here are a few pictures from the night: 

    Donna being introduced
    Love her cheeky style
    Got introduced to her as Cooking in Choos and she wanted to know all about my shoe collection - love it!
    My autographed copy!
    Two weekends it was with great delight that I along with husby got to attend the 1st Birthday of Perth fashion designer and my dear friend Steph Audino. Regular readers of my blog know that I met Steph through a family friend and although we've only known each other just on a year it feels like we have been friends forever. 

    I can't even put into words how proud I am of this talented young lady. In just a short time she has achieved so much and in what has been an unbelievable first year for this emerging WA designer she's determined to keep riding this amazing wave she's on.

    Steph was one of the highlights at this year's Perth Fashion Festival, she has dressed the Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, television presenters/journalist Ebbeny Faranda and Angela Tsun and Nic Natanui's partner Elle Demasi recently wore a couture gown to the West Coast Eagles Fairest & Best. Her biggest coup however was when former Spice Girl and X Factor judge Mel B hand-picked five of her pieces to wear when she visited Perth earlier this year for PFF. 

    To add another feather to her cap, Steph Audino has also just been picked up to sell her latest collection as part of Claremont's Ten at Times Pop Up Boutique for the next two weeks, this just after taking part in a Designer Charity event (held by me and my sister-in-law) over the weekend. 

    The year isn't over for Steph Audino and I know that this first year is the beginning of what's to come , trust me when I say this young lady is destined for big things - watch this space.  

    Congratulations again Steph, I wish you all the best and look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you xxx

    The VIP  invite

    Live mannequins

    Steph with weather presenter Angela Tsun

    Making her speech with PFF direct Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan

    All smiles in front of her decadent dessert buffet by Dee's Sweet Boutique

    Steph & her girls

    Fellow designer Dianna Monastra of Three Anjewels, me and Texan stylist/journalist Haili Zwiercan Pue of All Ze Details
    Blogger Donna Dee, me, Steph and Haili celebrating!


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