Our founder Liza catches up with Lucy Lord, Sunday Times Best Seller and ex-Bondi resident over a ‘Bennett Street Dairy’ inspired cookie, from Lucy's book Food for the Soul.
So first up, I hear you ask, what the hell is a Bennett Street Dairy cookie? I remember sitting having breaky in this Bondi café and as I finished my eyes transfixed on a chap opposite me, a giant cookie had just arrived in front of him. His eyes met the waiter’s eyes and they smiled and nodded knowingly. As he started to devour it, the look on his face was pure ecstasy. It looked like a very special experience that I was keen to try for myself, and a few days later I found myself at a table with a pot of tea (ever the Brit down under!) and a warm gooey cookie. Having come straight out of the oven it was still warm with the chocolate chips soft and melted. Half cookie, half cake, this could have become a when Harry met Sally moment, minus Harry. Yep, insanely good! In fact I'm going to call it, it's the world's greatest cookie. It soon became a regular treat with Bondi friends, usually after the Bondi Markets on a Saturday, but you’d have to be there early - they would always sell out. I soon treated Melbourne friends that came to visit, and it would become a ritual each time they came to stay. Ingeniously, during Lockdown 1.0 they created cookie dough packs which you could take and bake at home, they were soon sending them all over Sydney, and then to other cities in Oz. Incredible! Probably my favourite memory is when I ordered a pizza size cookie for a friend’s birthday. A friend picked it up and took it on the bus from Bondi over to Manly (an hour’s drive away) we had a few cocktails at Hugo’s and then jumped in an uber to where we were staying about 20 minutes away. Realising not long after we arrived that we had left the pizza box with the cookie on the side of the street! We called a restaurant opposite the bench we had left it on, and they were able to locate it and put it in their fridge until we could go back and pick it up the next day. Legends! Anyway, the point to telling you all of this is that Lucy has re-created her version of these cookies and has shared the recipe with us, so now you too can experience this cookie size piece of heaven. (Recipe at bottom of the article.)
Lucy Lord as per her IG profile description – Cook. Baker. Yogi. Friend. Human. And eternal optimist. Lucy lived the dream in Bondi for 5 years and returned to the UK a couple of months ago. It was during a trip to the UK to visit home last year that Lucy became stranded during the pandemic, unable to get back into Australia as they closed their borders and on allowed a limited number of Australian citizens back into the country. Lucy was able to retain her job in Australia working in vetinary pharmaceutical sales during this time, but started work at 2am due to the Australian time zone! Lucy, also saw this time in lockdown as the opportunity to perfect her recipes and finalise the content for her cookbook, Food for the Soul.
Lucy, can you tell us about Food for the Soul, and how on earth you managed to write a Times Best Seller whilst you were getting up for at 2AM every morning to work your ‘day job’ in Australia?
I have joked that it’s one of those situations where passion outweighs circumstance - but really there is a lot of truth behind that! As I was stuck overseas in the UK, I didn’t know whether I’d be there for a week or a month as I was trying to get back to Australia (it turned out to be 7 months) so it was just a case of focusing on one day at a time and doing the very best I could with that time. There was quite a lot of pressure with work so once I finished that at around 9am, working on the book and creating recipes was a very welcomed break to get lost in something I loved. Lockdown almost worked in my favour in some ways as everything else outside of work and the book that I would usually have in my weeks (hobbies, socialising, eating out, friends, family, travelling) were completely sidelined.
It seems in so many ways that that Covid really gave us that extra time, whether it was to chill or to pursue something you had always dreamed of. There are definitely so many silver linings to this strange time.
You have some really useful tips for ensuring food doesn’t go to waste (in the UK alone, households waste a third of the food purchased every year. And in Europe the food wasted could feed 200 million people!) Could you share some of these tips with us?
Thank you, I’ve noticed (and am loving) a huge surge recently across social media and magazines with tips on sustainability and living with less waste. Before I moved to Sydney, I spent a few months travelling and whilst packing up to leave, I became acutely aware of how many ‘things’ I had acquired overtime. My travelling backpack carried about 18kg and throughout the countries I travelled, it was a great lesson that from wardrobes to cosmetics, you only really need a handful of things - and even then, most of them are a luxury. I visited countries and communities who had a lot less than the western developed world but were still so friendly, happy, helpful and grateful - so I’d say it really started as a mindset shift.
In regards to food, travelling on a budget also meant that nothing went in the bin and when I was re-established in my own cooking space, I wanted to carry these lessons through. The easiest way to reduce waste is to reduce the volume of unnecessary foods bought - it’s so easy to keep piling up the supermarket trolley and we’re constantly marketed at to buy ‘more’ food with offers, deals and sales purposefully placed around supermarkets. I’m not a strict meal plan eater but I do try to have a rough idea of the days ahead so I know when I can nip to the shops to top up any fresh produce (I prefer to shop little and often). Once a month, I make the time to cook a few meals, portion and freeze them out so that for the rest of the month, I have home cooked meals ready to go for busier days, then I top them up with fresh vegetables or salads in my weekly food shops. I love the kitchen and it’s now my ‘office’ but even I don’t want (or have the time) to stay in and cook 3x a day, every day. I love the idea of ‘cook once - eat twice’ (or more!). I have a large handful of recipes in my toolbox that I usually have on rotation and can be enjoyed the next days for lunch or dinner too.
Making small changes over time makes a huge difference, I’m definitely still learning. Creating and working on new recipes often also means that I’ve had to learn new ways to use ingredients and leftovers to transform one dish into another (ideally with as little washing up as possible!)
First up well done for managing having just 18 kilo’s in your back pack. I was terrible at packing light and had the equivalent of the business class allowance on my back! Much better now - Covid taught me that I need a lot less than I once thought. I think there’s some excellent tips, especially for those of us that are single - we don’t want to eat the same meal day in and day out.
Lucy, you speak about mindful eating in the book, and not counting calories. How have you established such a healthy relationship with food and eating and what advice can you offer?
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with counting calories or even being aware of them, but I do know that people can have a tendency to over-restrict and end up with a robotic eating schedule and recipes that are neither enjoying or fulfilling. A lot of the time, this leads the pendulum to then swing the other way and for us to overeat, over-indulge and think ‘f*ck it, I’ve had a biscuit now that wasn’t calculated in, I’ll just have the whole pack and start again tomorrow’ followed by a tighter restriction, bigger relapse and so on and so forth. I think this can lead to a really damaging relationship with food and in my own experience, really remove all the good things about food; connection, community, enjoyment, freedom, flavour, exploration - and replace it with fear and restriction.
For me, since I shifted the perspective from food to how I want to feel (well fuelled, strong, energetic, consistent energy) rather than how I want to look, the choices I made drastically changed and such the relationship I had with food changed too.
When it comes to mindful eating - sitting down to solely focus on eating, not watching TV, not whilst at a laptop, not whilst reading, on your phone or even listening to a podcast - it’s something that is SO rarely practiced nowadays! We live in such a fast paced world that it felt almost uncomfortably to practice this. What I did begin to notice was how full I was, if I was actually hungry, if I wanted more, or didn’t want to finish the plate. Life isn’t perfect and sitting down to eat every meal and snack isn’t always available, but even just a few meals here and there - you’ll quickly notice a huge difference. You’ll also enjoy that piece of chocolate cake, pizza or whatever it is you truly love and crave WAY more than if you’re shovelling it down whilst driving to work and already feeling guilty about it. There’s lots of science backing mindful eating so I always suggest people read into that if they’re interested in learning more.
Agreed, it definitely is about changing the perspective of how we view food and think about the way we are nourishing and fuelling our bodies. I did an Instagram Live earlier this year with a Mind, Body, Eating Coach which really deep dives in to this. I highly recommend checking it out on my page.
What, and who are your inspirations – inside and outside of the kitchen?
There are lots of people who have inspired me from athletes to actors, business men and women to friends, family and day-to-day people I might only meet passing by in life.
But my biggest inspiration and the person who I ‘chase’ is me in 5 years time. There’s nobody who I want to copy or replicate, I really believe we all have something unique to give, so continuing my journey to unfold and work through that both excites and petrifies me - and I think that’s a good thing!
I absolutely love this philosophy Lucy!
You’ve completed your yoga teacher training, and you meditate daily. Why are these practices so important to you?
Yoga and meditation are both practices which I rolled my eyes at initially. Even now, nearly 10 years on, there’s very few times that I wake up and can’t wait to do either practice! I think because they force you to slow down, to check-in and to become aware of little things you often never notice, they’ve been really beneficial for me as that’s something I’m not naturally very good at or don’t make a lot of time for. I recognise the impact they have on my day, life and the person I am to the people I love around me. Because of that, the benefits far outweigh my lack of enthusiasm to sometimes do these practices! Of course, I always feel great after a yoga practice and I always feel more grounded after meditation, so it’s just another way of working through discomfort for a greater outcome.
Agreed, for me for so long I had the perspective that I didn’t need to slow down, that I was supposed to just be one of those people that juggled a million things. The peace and healing I have found within myself since slowing down through practising yoga and meditation has been life changing.
What do you think you learnt from living in Australia that you’ve incorporated into your lifestyle in the UK?
I think I’ve come to understand that it really doesn’t matter where you live, your internal environment and your ability to ‘choose’ your actions and re-actions really does make all the difference. I loved the lifestyle in Australia, which is hugely helped by the weather, beaches and certainly in areas such as Bondi, what is considered a ‘normal’ morning over there before work is definitely different to anywhere else I’ve ever lived. But waking up early, taking the time for a physical practice (be that yoga, strength training, walking or other) certainly isn’t something that can only be done on the Southern Hemisphere.
Food wise, the breakfast/coffee/brunch scene in Sydney was incredible and it’s something that I’ve definitely tried to implement more over here. I love making time to meet friends in the morning rather than always in the evening over drinks. I also love taking myself for coffee or breakfast, brining a book or laptop if I’ve got a lot of work to do, a real treat that I never appreciated beforehand. Even just taking 5 minutes in the morning to sit and enjoy my coffee at home, rather than throwing it back whilst mindlessly scrolling or opening emails and already dipping my toes into that feeling of overwhelm.
I think absolutely for me what I loved was being part of the morning rush hour at Bondi at 5.30am. Whether I was training, walking, or swimming the head space it put me in to tackle the day ahead was exactly what I needed. And absolutely, the morning routine continues to be my ritual now.
What’s next for you Lucy?
A question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently too..! I’m not entirely sure, but I know if you don’t know where you’re going it can be quite hard to get anywhere. Since leaving my job in pharmaceuticals, I’ve had a lot more free time to be able to explore different avenues. I absolutely love food photography so perhaps more a long the lines of that and working with brands I adore to help bring their message to life. After Food for the Soul, I’d love to build on that and bring more recipes and creativity to people’s kitchens. Supper Club remains a weekly focus for me and allows me to experiment with more recipes, connect with a likeminded community and spend a lot of time photographing food and new recipes, so it’s really my idea of heaven! I’ve been back in the UK for a couple months now and I’m ready to start dusting off the vision board and spend time thinking about what I’d like to achieve and where I’d like to be this time next year.
Thank you so much Lucy, I love your perspective on life. We’ve been in touch for the past couple of months and I have to say it has just been such a delight chatting to you, you are so humble and so kind. I can’t wait to watch your journey, something tells me its going to be epic! You can subscribe to Lucy’s weekly Supper Club emails here – you’ll get 6 of her top recipes, and 3 new recipes every week. Her Sunday Times Best Seller, Food for the Soul is available from all good bookstores. I encourage you to support your small independent book stores.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
Makes 16 large cookies
180g butter, at room temperature
35g soft light brown sugar
150g condenses milk
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or use vanilla extract)
100g dark chocolate chips (or roughly chop up a bar of chocolate)
1. Using a hand-held electric whisk, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and condensed milk together in a bowl until soft and smooth.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and gently stir to mix everything together, then tip this into the wet ingredients. Use a wooden spoon or clean hands to mix everything together until it forms the cookie dough base. The dough should b firm but stick. Gently fold in the chocolate chips until they are evenly dispersed.
3. Wrap the dough in cling film and shape it into a flat disk, then chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
4. Just before backing, preheat the oven 200°/180° C fan and line a couple gf baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap. Divide it in half and repeat until you have 16 equal-sized portions. Roll each piece of dough into a ball in your hands and place on the baking trays. Bear in mind that they will expand in the oven, so leave space between them (you might need to bake these in batches if you do not have enough baking trays.)
6. Bake for about 18 minutes; they should be turning gold on the edges and they'll look under-baked in the middle but once they cool they'll turn soft and chew. Keep them in the oven for 2 minutes longer if you like them crunchier.
7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little before you pick them up or they'll fall apart!
- Keep baked cookies stored in an airtight container for 5 days.
- Uncooked cookie dough can be kept for up to 5 days in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer. I like to roll them up into a large log so that they are ready to slice 'n' bake whenever I fancy one.