Creative personalities: Dominique Woolf

Creative personalities: Dominique Woolf

We caught up with chef and cookbook writer Dominique Woolf.
After winning Channel 4’s The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver Dominique ‘put on her Leiths’ trained chef’s hat on and threw herself headfirst into creating the Woolf’s Kitchen.’
Dominique’s style of cooking is all about delivering bold flavours the whole family will love with simple recipes that slot into busy schedules with ease.

When and why did you get into cooking?

I've always been a massive foodie and basically love eating delicious food! About 5 years ago I started to realise that my passion for cooking could turn into a career. I just love getting creative in the kitchen and coming up with new ideas. Pre-kids I used to eat out and travel a lot - I can't do that as much these days so cooking is a way for me to enjoy the flavours of the world from my kitchen table!

Last year you took part and won (whoop) The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver. How did you find the whole experience?

It was the most surreal thing! Writing a cookbook and being on TV were two things on my bucket list, and to get the opportunity was just amazing. I was in a total bubble, and I still can't believe I won.

How did you find creating your debut cookbook ‘Dominique’s Kitchen’?

I really loved it and learned a huge amount. I'm in my element when I'm creating new recipes - it's the part I love the most, getting creative and creating new flavour combinations. Writing the book was also a huge challenge as we had a very short deadline, so I just threw myself into it and lived and breathed it.

‘Being half Thai, I love big, bold flavour. I’ll never forget the unlabelled jars of sweet, spicy, fresh sauces my Thai auntie would whip up and pour on just about everything. So simple. So ridiculously good.’

Your family pops up within your cooking often, do they inspire you to create new recipes?

Without a doubt, my family have inspired my love of Thai and Asian cuisine. It's part of my DNA! My mum and aunt definitely inspired lots of the recipes - ones they've made me over the years like my mum's Thai stuffed omelette or Auntie Dang's soy sauce noodles. My mum is also here every day helping me with the kids and has been my biggest recipe taster!

What’s your biggest source of inspiration when creating new recipes?

It's a combination of things. Looking at Asian ingredients and flavours I love and coming up with different ways of using them, like putting miso paste in my Miso chocolate fridge cake recipe. I often look at traditional Asian recipes and see how I can put my spin on them - for example my Thai tuna fishcakes are a storecupboard version of a Thai fishcake and have been one of my most popular recipes in my book. I also love recreating dishes I've had when I've eaten out or when I've travelled. 

How do you trial and test your cookbook recipes?

I like to test each one three times myself and give them to friends and family as well. You do need a lot of attention to detail so I make sure I note every single thing down, and have to be precise with timings and measurements. 


You’re currently in the middle of writing your second book, can we expect a similar approach in the coming cookbook?

Definitely! I've put a lot of work and attention to detail into it, and can't wait to share my recipes. Simplicity is the key thing for me - these are recipes that not only taste amazing but are achievable on a Monday night when you're exhausted!

Did creating your first cookbook go as you had imagined?

It was such a whirlwind I almost didn't have any time to think about it. It was hard core! I was worried how the book would be received and if the recipes would work - thankfully the feedback has been incredible!


When you’re not cooking up a storm in the kitchen how do you like to express your creativity?

Cooking is definitely my most creative outlet but I also love dressing up and wearing a bright lipstick to express myself. Pre-kids I used to sing, write songs and perform - now I write recipes and I’m on-stage doing chef demos!

You described a love of fashion when we met, where does this come into your everyday life?

I love wearing clothes that not only make me feel good, but that are also bold and stand out. This is particularly the case when I'm going to an event or if I’m doing a cooking demo. I love wearing bright colours and love patterns. I'm in my element in the summer which is why the jumpsuits and dress were just perfect!


‘Dominique’s Kitchen shows you just how easy it is to cook with ingredients from around Asia, creating big, bold, flavourful dishes you’ll want to cook again and again.’

Which recipe would you say is the most addictive to create (and most importantly, eat!)?

Gosh there are a lot but my miso chocolate fridge cake is ridiculous - I could demolish the whole thing! And my roasted broccoli with spicy peanut sauce always goes down a storm - once you start eating that sauce you can't stop!

 What are the main ingredients you feel any kitchen should have for your yummy Asian inspired dishes?

There are a number but top 5 would be a good quality Thai curry paste like Mae Ploy, soy sauce, sriracha, gochujang and a crispy chilli oil.

One food you personally wouldn’t want to live without? 

My Woolf's Kitchen Chilli Crunch chilli oil. I eat it with everything!

Do you think food has an impact on our mental health?

 Absolutely. I have a pretty balanced diet but don't eat things like deep-fried food very often as it doesn't make me feel good physically which then affects my mood. I believe in everything in moderation so nothing is banned but over time you learn what foods serve you and what doesn't. I also think that eating can, and should be, really pleasurable - which obviously has a positive impact. For me, nothing beats a really tasty, fresh, vibrant, home-cooked meal - it's something I look forward to and adds a spark of excitement into my day. I just want to get people cooking and share my love of food with others!


Dominique wears...