Our kitchens are often the place where we download the day, create memories and prepare healthy, delicious foods for our families that fill the home with welcoming and warm cooking smells. Australian foodie, recipe developer and mum, Ashley Alexander, is passionate about bringing people and food together in a welcoming, all-encompassing and delicious way. Spending her early years in the kitchen cooking up a storm with her mum, tasting, learning and experimenting, Ashley now runs Gather and Feast, a website filled with beautiful food and delicious recipes.
“The kitchen is always the place where everyone gathers and socialises,” shares Ashley. So, what are her top tips for bringing the heart of the home to life? Our Miele for Life team recently sat down to better understand what special touches she recommends for the kitchen to enhance your pleasure when preparing, cooking and serving food for the people you love.
1. Prioritise organic, simple and fresh ingredients
Modern life is increasingly complex, so Ashley’s advice for the home cook looking to create a happy and inviting kitchen is to keep things fresh and simple.
“Mum always taught me to cook using natural and healthy ingredients and instilled in us the value of whole and organic foods. To achieve mouth-watering results, you don’t need to over complicate things. Simple flavour combinations like quality olive oil, lemon and sea salt, help to build your confidence and the creations are endless.”
In addition to buying produce and groceries in bulk and from local suppliers, as well as biodynamic and organic items wherever possible, Ashley suggests that we follow sustainable practices for storing and preparing your food.
“One of the main sustainable practices I have adopted in the kitchen is recycling large glass jars and using them as storage containers in the pantry. I also love my herb pots on my deck at home. At the moment I am growing basil, thyme, oregano, chives, coriander, chilli, all available at my fingertips when I need them.”
These wholesome and sustainable practices, complemented by natural ingredients and fresh in-season produce enables family and friends to come together in a lighter, more fun and stress-free way to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
2. Design a space for creativity and connection
In addition to high-quality, fresh produce, the environment we create in the kitchen is often just as important as the food itself. Creating an inviting atmosphere and a sense of inclusion that encourages guests to pull up a chair and join in helps to make time spent in the kitchen a happier and more harmonious experience.
“The love and effort shown in creating a welcoming setting can often add great warmth and value to a gathering. It can be as simple as fresh foliage straight from your garden, curated music playing softly in the background as guests arrive or scattered pillar candles to create a warm, inviting atmosphere. Simple and meaningful. Beautiful, yet low fuss.”
Having ample bench space and adequate room for multiple people to move around the kitchen at once makes cooking more enjoyable. This attention to functionality and features that promote connection are at the heart of Ashley’s philosophy:
“Happy kitchens involve the gathering together of beautiful food, and also the gathering together of friends and loved ones. To feast, to celebrate, to share, to enjoy, to love.
I designed my kitchen layout so the sink and cooktop were situated on the back window splashback bench and the island bench was clear for food preparation, plating and entertaining.”
As we begin to reemerge and enjoy some well-deserved and long overdue time with our loved ones, ensuring that our kitchen space is set up with creativity and connection in mind goes a long way to dishing up that colour, celebration and zest we are all craving.
3. Integrate quality appliances that are easy to use and built to last
When it comes to kitchen and cooking appliances, Ashley suggests looking for: quality products that are known to last; appliances that are aesthetically beautiful so that you want to use them, while still performing well; features that integrate seamlessly into your kitchen; and appliances that are easy and intuitive to use.
“The craftsmanship of my kitchen appliances plays a very important role in my cooking process. Being able to trust my kitchen appliances to work perfectly every time is very important, especially when developing and testing recipes.”
Taking responsibility for our impact on the environment and crafting sustainable practices has been a tradition at Miele for over 120 years. We want to protect our natural environment and the foundation for our existence, so that we and generations to come can have a thriving future.
This begins with the selection of materials used in our appliances, continues with efficient production, and ends after a long appliance life with environmentally responsible recycling. Like Joost Baker, Norbert Niederkofler and Ashley Alexander, we love partnering with chefs who share our commitment to sustainability and walking lightly on the planet.
There are few things more precious in life than enjoying beautiful food and quality time with the people you love. Miele is all about making cooking effortless and delicious, creating healthy, tasty results that make you and your family and friends happy. You could say that, with innovative cooking features and sleek design, Miele’s appliances have been designed over 120 years with your happiness in mind.