We're not ashamed to say we are die-hard Jessica Nguyen fans. The home cook and recipe creator is a go-to for every meal, giving us easy and delicious spins on classics and always challenging us to try something new. Never before has one looked so glam while creating feasts and hosting dinner parties (how does she do it?). Check in with us and stay awhile - good things come to those who scroll.
Tell us about your food philosophy. How do you approach each meal and where does your passion stem from?
Cooking, eating, drinking and entertaining is my way of life and my love language. I find cooking therapeutic and meditative, even though it's now what I do for work - I do love just to be alone with some ingredients and cooking for myself or for others.
My favourite love language is 'acts of service' so I guess that also explains why I love cooking and putting on a spread for others. I love how it connects people and brings everyone closer. All of my favourite memories and experiences have always been over food and/or wine.
How I approach each meal really depends on what the occasion is, who I'm cooking for and where. Generally I just love cooking dishes that I personally crave and want to eat but will always try to incorporate what's in season, what's wilting in my fridge that I need to use up and how much time I have to do it all.
What are the first things we would find in your fridge? Pantry? Drinks trolley?
In my pantry you'll find a whole lot of spices, dried pasta, vermicelli, two minute noodles, rice, assorted salts and condiments like chilli oil, fish sauce, olive oil.
In my fridge, you'll usually find a block of Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh herbs like spring onions, coriander, mint and basil, dumpling wrappers, my Vietnamese dipping sauce and my skincare masks.
Drinks trolleys wise, I pretty much have every drink, spirit, mixer, garnish, glass you could find under the sun. I have two drinks trolleys filled to the brim and another glass cabinet of spirits and glassware, so I'm prepared for any guest or impromptu party. I'm currently loving using the Cascais Cup Set in Amber for cocktails and every day drinking and the Coro Cup Set in Cobalt for my morning coffees.
Do you have a go-to outfit for days in the kitchen?
Go-to outfit is normally a comfy dress, jumpsuit or shirt and jeans. The Merano Necklace has been my favourite to throw on for a fun daytime look and then I've been loving adding the Verity Hoops in Eggshell onto an outfit for a fun evening look.
What is your favourite meal spread when guests come over?
It really depends on who's coming and what time of year it is. I generally love a lunch in the sun outside on my deck either grilling something on my weber with an assortment of sides or a pasta.
I recently made dinner for friends at home; a kingfish crudo for entree and a vongole linguine for main with a citrus salad and it was the perfect meal.
You are also a queen of tablescaping - what are your top five tips for creating the perfect setting?
1. Give yourself enough time to plan and prepare. There's nothing worse than feeling stressed out with not enough time to get everything sorted, so I generally like to gather all the ingredients and prepare most of the dishes the day before. That way, the day of the party you're not stressing about the cooking element and in the event you don't finish all of your food prep the day before, you still have the day of to get it all done.
2. Pick dishes that you can prep well in advance and only require re-heating or a quick assemblage to enjoy. That way, you're not in the kitchen cooking away when your guests are there. Soups, stews, bakes, curries, casseroles are a great dish to make the day before and things like quick pastas and salads are great as they don't take any time at all to cook or assemble just before serving.
3. On the tablescape, you don't have to go all with flowers and decorations. Make sure you allow enough space to place all the food on the table so keep florals and candles small and minimal, so that they also don't obstruct your guests' view at dinner.
4. I really love mismatching glassware, crockery and cutlery, mainly because I don't always have a full set of everything especially wine glasses (a sign of very good times from other parties), but it also allows you to layer in different colours, patterns and textures, adding your own personal touch to the table.
5. You don't have to always just opt for florals and candles on the table. I like to style pieces and objects that match with the seasons, occasion or even guests. Think fruits and vegetables as edible place settings, some autumn foliage instead of flowers, or even a beautiful scented candle or music playlist to fill the room and make it a beautiful experience.
What cocktail can we share?
My Coconut, Lychee & Mint Slushie Cocktail. It's a Lychee Martini meets a Piña Colada meets a Mojito in a slushie form and is an absolute crowd pleaser!
- 120ml of rum
- 90ml of lychee liqueur
- 1 can (300ml) of Frozen Young Coconut Juice
- 8 canned lychees
- 1/4 cup of lychee syrup
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 sprigs of mint
- 1 cup of ice
- Extra lychees and fresh mint for garnish
- Tall tumbler glasses
1. Place the frozen coconut juice as a block, lychees, lychee liqueur, rum, lime juice and mint into a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Place some ice into the tumblers and pour over the cocktail.
3. Garnish with a lychee in the centre of the glass and fresh mint on the rim of the glass.
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