Q&A with Nicola Reith

Eve O'Sullivan
25 March, 2015

This week, we speak to Nichola Reith, one third of Three Sisters Bake, about chocolate splodge, Irish soda bread, and why practice makes perfect.

Nicola Reith

What is your first memory of eating?

My mum's fantastic home cooking, which we did not show nearly enough appreciation for as children. ​

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What was the first dish you ever cooked by yourself?

Homemade pizzas. Mum used to help us make our own pizza dough - I loved kneading the dough and watching it rise. She would lay out a 'buffet' of toppings and we were allowed to choose whatever mad combinations we wanted! 

What dish do you associate most with your childhood?

Chocolate Splodge - ​This is my mum's version of tiffin - biscuits, raisins, condensed milk - all splodged together! It doesn't require any baking and is really fun to make.  


What single ingredient can you attribute to a turning point in the way you cook?

Ground almonds. I had only ever baked with flour and being introduced to ground almonds as a replacement for flour really opened my eyes to all the different directions baking can take.

To whom do you owe your love of food, and why?

My mum; she was a Home Economics teacher and a fabulous cook. Everything in our house was homemade - Mr Kipling was not allowed across our front door! We even used to make our own play dough.

As a chef, what has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in the kitchen?

Move fast and plan your day with military precision. Cooking or baking at home is fun and relaxing, but at work you need to make sure you are getting as much out of your day as possible. Also, baking with a timer. If I ever try to bake without one I inevitably burn whatever is in the oven and spend the rest of the day kicking myself.​


Aside from well-known accolades, what do you regard as your biggest achievement?

​Setting up and running a successful cafe with my sisters.  


What recipe are you most proud of?

Our Irish soda bread gets the thumbs up from my Irish husband, so pretty pleased with that! ​


If you could give one piece of advice to a keen home cook, what would it be?

Practise, practise, practise. I think a lot of home cooks will try a recipe once, it won't go too well and then they move on to a different recipe. As a chef you repeat recipes over and over again and make little tweaks each time until it works the way you want it to. 


If you didn’t work in food, what would you do, and why?

Probably a chemistry teacher - I studied chemistry at university and found it fascinating. ​

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