Valli grew up in Southern England where her parents owned a small restaurant, exposing her to the food industry from a young age. After that, an exchange in France, schooling in The Cordon Bleu school in London and a lot of travel have brought her to where she is today, an esteemed and popular food writer based in Australia.
Valli, what do you think sets you apart from other food writers? Is there a ‘secret recipe’?
No secret really, I tend to keep things quite simple where flavour is paramount. I am very fussy about testing too. While I respect time-honoured recipes where every detail must be adhered to, that is just not my kind of food. I have always felt that cooking should be a light hearted, innovative and fun experience.
Being from the UK, and spending a lot of your life in Australia, have you had experience with Indonesian food and dishes?
As a recipe writer you can’t be restricted by one typical genre of food, you have to embrace all types. I have been to Bali a couple of times, the first time was to write and shoot a story with the wonderful Janet de Neefe [Founder of UWRF], I couldn’t believe some of the amazing flavours in her dishes. I love the use of spices and am particularly fond of Indonesian curries and the beautiful fresh sambal’s.
The subject of your panel in this year’s Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will take the audience ‘behind the scenes of the culinary kingdom’ and look into what makes a cookbook successful. Since 2001, when you started writing for delicious., what do you think has changed the most in the world of food writing?
I guess the thing that has changed most is in photography. When we first started shooting for the magazine all the initial shots were done on polaroid! Of course everything is digital now which makes our “shoots” so much easier and the end result so much better.
Also, recently, to attract a younger audience new features were introduced with more focus on health and food waste which are high on people’s agenda’s these days.
I’m not sure you are aware, however Ubud has seen an explosion of health-centric and vegan restaurants. Where do you stand on these ‘food fashions’ when writing a new cookbook or recipe?
I think it’s such a great thing that people are more health conscious and that restaurants are respecting that and designing their menus to reflect this… I had a pretty bad health scare last year and my book Feel Good Food came out of the fact that I had to start listening to my body and rethinking my diet.
Indonesia itself has generally grown to become a food-obsessed nation. The number of food bloggers (professional and non) is increasing by the day. What key lessons do you think these budding food-enthusiasts will learn from your panel session in this year’s festival, as well as others who plan to listen in?
Its amazing how many food bloggers are out there now, some are great and some not so good. I will share tips on simple things like choosing the right name for your blog and how to take better pictures. We might even discuss the number of bloggers who publish recipes that are not even tested and don’t get me started on one’s that steal recipes and images! I once found 6 images from one of my books on an Indian restaurant in New York’s website, I guess I should take it as a compliment.
Now, the festival is a few days long, so we imagine you’ll be in Ubud for a little while. What are you looking forward to most during your time here and what do you hope to bring back to Australia?
Ubud is a very special place, perfect for relaxing, so I am certainly looking forward to that. More than anything I am looking forward to the festival, the chance to be with like-minded people sharing knowledge and learning from them in such an inspirational destination.
Valli Little will be appearing in a main program panel discussion, a Kitchen Series session and a special event at Casa Luna at this year’s Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. The festival will be held from the 26-30 October 2016. Full program line-up and tickets available at