Sophie Thompson is one-half of the father-daughter team behind What To Cook, a subscription based cooking website. Soph and her dad, Andrew, turn out incredible recipes (we’re looking at you Vietnamese prawn rice paper rolls!) each day to help you avoid the dreaded 5pm ‘what should I cook for dinner’ panic. Here’s what she has to say about food.
Who are you, where are you from and where do you live?
Hello! I’m Sophie and I’m a born and bred Sydney girl. I live in Sydney’s North Shore with my husband, George, & my puppy, Winston.
What led you and your dad to start What To Cook?
It was an extension of these Saturday Lunches we used to throw for friends and family. Dad and I would go to the market together, collect all the produce, come back home and cook up a delicious lunch for everyone. I would always be documenting these lunches through photography for my blog, The Littlest Things. It wasn’t until I moved back home to Sydney (after living in the UK for 4.5 years) in September 2013 that we decided to start a blog/website together sharing all his amazing recipes! It was actually Dad’s idea to start it and I thought it was an amazingly fun idea from the beginning.
Is your professional background in cooking? Is his?
Not at all – for both of us. Dad’s background was in real estate and I was actually dying to be a PE teacher (or a lifelong snow bunny) until my 21st birthday when I got a DSLR and then became obsessed with photography. Mum was the cook of the family until I was around 12 years old and my brother was 10. She wasn’t very inspired by home cooking so Dad decided to take over and absolutely fell in love with it. He’s incredibly intuitive & creative in the kitchen even though he’s self-taught and has only ever taken one cooking class. Everything I know about cooking is from watching him cook through taking the photos for the website.
What are your favourite childhood memories?
Oh so many! I feel so lucky whenever I think of all the fun childhood memories I have. I grew up living next door to two of my oldest friends – twin girls who are the same age as me. Their brothers were around the same age as my brother so there were so many fun times with that family! Annual family holidays to Thredbo were also a major major highlight!
My parents also seemed to have these incredibly fun dinner parties every other weekend so Eddy (my brother) and I would always fall asleep listening to Crowded House albums and all the adult banter. In the morning, we would get up super early to see if there were any left over chocolates. There was always heaps as everyone seemed to always bring chocolates over for dinner parties. I guess it was because mobile phones weren’t really a thing so it was harder to work those things out haha. I miss that!
What does your average day look like?
My average day is usually; up between 6am-7am. Earlier the better but it’s always so hard to remember that when bed is so cosy! I’ll then head to the gym or take Winston for a walk before coming home to make breakfast & coffee. Then the day either consists of computer work (emailing, editing photos, research/procrastination etc etc), photoshoots for What To Cook which is mainly shooting recipes but can also be ‘lifestyle’ shoots at restaurants etc (on a cooking/shooting day we like to do only 1-2 recipes as it produces the best work when we limit it), or sometimes photoshoots for a client. At 6pm-ish I’ll usually need to stop whatever I’m doing and head outside for some fresh air – it’s so nice at this time of year with daylight savings, so evening walks have become part of the daily routine. Then it’s dinner and some really shameful reality TV haha!
Give us your day today on a plate?
Today has been quite a fun food day! For breakfast I had 2 fried eggs (seasoned with smokey paprika, chilli flakes, salt, pepper & fresh coriander) on rye with a little avocado on the side. Coffee was involved as well (obviously…don’t know what I would do without it). I had a berry smoothie for mid morning snack type meal. Lunch was what we cooked for What To Cook – it was quinoa, oregano & lemon-thyme crusted chicken with a super delicious warm asparagus salad! SO good! We even enjoyed it with a glass of Rosé. This afternoon I’ll probably have some hummus & crackers before dinner which is Chilli Con Carne. But takeaway from our local Indian restaurant sounds like it’s now on the cards which is a little cheeky…but super delicious!
What is your favourite season for produce?
This one is tough because I like every seasons produce! With it being spring at the moment, I am loving having beautiful asparagus, broad beans & spring peas. All greens really. Mangos are also super delicious at the moment. But then as soon as proper summer comes around I won’t be able to get enough of tomatoes! During autumn & winter, I go root-veggie crazy! It’s hard to choose, but I guess I love spring/summer produce the best as it’s the most vibrant and makes it feel a little easier to eat a bit healthier and balanced.
Are there any types of cuisine you tend to gravitate towards?
Mexican cuisine comes to mind first when I think of weekend entertaining with friends. It’s fun, easy, super tasty and everyone loves it. If it’s during the week and for myself and my husband, I love to cook Italian. Pasta is his favourite and I find the cooking process of making a pasta therapeutic and quite romantic!
What ingredients can’t you live without?
Olive oil, butter, sea salt, lemons (& limes), onions & garlic! Without these ingredients…most recipes would taste hideous.
Your last meal. What is it?
Ohh tough one…pre What To Cook, I would have said my Dad’s Chicken Stir Fry. But now it’s really hard to choose – maybe a banquet of all my favourites…sausage pasta & guacamole would be there. Also a big beef burger and some deliciously fresh grilled prawns! Plus lots of wine! Of course.