Sydneysider turned New Yorker Hetty McKinnon has taken her salads stateside, settling in Brooklyn where she continues to deliver her vegetable-packed creations to locals.
From Surry Hills to Brooklyn, your cooking and creativity has certainly been tested on a global audience – what have the last couple of years been like?
The last couple of years, since moving from Surry Hills to Brooklyn, have really been full of adventure! I came to New York without any connections in the food industry so I have really started from the very beginning again.
But for me, this phase of renewal has been incredibly fulfilling and exciting. I wanted to bring my special brand of ‘salads and community’ to Brooklyn, to see how my personal approach to food sits in a city much bigger and busier than Sydney.
What has been amazing has been the generosity of people. Since settling here, I have met so many food makers, writers, bloggers and photographers who have provided me with advice, ideas and inspiration. And through sharing food, stories and experiences, I have met so many wonderful people who have become intrinsic to my new community.
“Neighbourhood is about embracing the influences all around us – the histories, memories, rituals and traditions – and using this as inspiration in the kitchen.”
What is at the heart of your newest cookbook, Neighbourhood?
Neighbourhood is about embracing the influences all around us – the histories, memories, rituals and traditions – and using this as inspiration in the kitchen. The recipes in the new book are inspired by places around the world and highlight the role of food as a social anchor in a neighbourhood. Ultimately, our food choices are very much influenced by where we live, interlaced with our own personal histories and experiences.
What differences in tastes have you noticed between Australians and Americans?
There are huge differences between the tastes and food preferences in the two countries! The food culture in Australia and America are polar opposites. Over here, salads sold commercially are still very much lettuce-based. So in serving my style of salads, which are vegetable-based, very hearty and with very little lettuce, I am always introducing the new possibilities of the salad to locals. This has been a lot of fun.
Plant-based diets are on the rise in the United States. As such, I find that I cook more vegan salads over here than in Sydney. Most weeks, my menus are 100% vegan and often also gluten-free, to accommodate for the food preferences of my diners.