Chef Nerys Whelan has been working in kitchens she was just 16 years old. Early in her career she competed and won several culinary competitions early, which led to her being part of Team New Zealand in 2016 for the esteemed Bocuse D'or - Asia Pacific Continental Selection.
Thinking outside the box is part of Nerys' skillset and she thrives on the challenge of creating and adapting recipes. In early 2019 she adopted a keto diet and noticing a lack of quality, easy-to-follow recipes, she decided to create her own and produced her debut cookbook, The Keto Chef's Kitchen.
Nerys is a firm believer that following a keto lifestyle should be easy, indulgent, and sustainable. Here she shares a few insights into her lifestyle and cooking habits.
I'm a Naki girl through and through, but I live in Auckland now.
My home kitchen is my playground, science lab and happy place! I spend a lot of time in there messing around with my recipes, so a lot of the time it's organised chaos.
To turn it into a dream kitchen, I'd love a walk-in pantry/scullery with fully commercial equipment one day soon. I could never have enough space in a kitchen, so pray for my partner if we ever build a house!
If you were to raid my fridge before a food shop, there would always be marinated olives, mustard, confit garlic, a batch of my keto piccalilli and a plethora of cheeses.
My pantry staples are low-carb go-to's; ground almond, various sweeteners, xanthan gum, salt, pepper, spices and every way you can get coconut.
I love cooking with new ingredients or things I'm not as familiar with. It's the experimenting process that I really love.
My go-to meal in a hurry would probably be a curry of some kind with green veg.
Occasionally I make butter or ground almonds and almond milk but not regularly. I always have a batch of keto muesli, confit garlic and relish or pickle of some kind.
If friends or family stopped by unannounced for dinner, my keto sweet & sour pork is on heavy rotation at the moments so that's probably what I would make.
I cook at home a lot. My partner, Scott, is also a chef so I'm fortunate he cooks a lot too.
I love making dishes or things that haven't been done before! Like sugar-free hokey pokey – It was a magical moment.
My drink of choice is... I don't drink much these days, but I have recently discovered Pal's and I'm a huge fan! Otherwise, I like a glass of a good red.
A great café I visited recently is Pickle & Plum - it was amazing. It's a small café in Te Awamutu with a few keto options for sweet and savoury and great service.
My most used appliance, by far, is my Breville coffee machine. Good coffee is an absolute essential.
A kitchen gadget everyone should have is a temperature probe. They are so handy to have for cooking meat accurately or working with sugar.
My mantra or advice for living well is "Focus on progress, not perfection." Living well, I think, is hugely about your mental health. If you're obsessing over something like being 'perfect' with what you're eating, you can lose sight of the bigger picture. Don't beat yourself up for taking a day off anything. Enjoy every moment and don't sweat the small stuff.
For Nerys' Chocolate Raspberry Torte recipe, click here.
The Keto Chef's Kitchen is published by Mary Egan Publishing. RRP $69.95. Find out more at theketochefskitchen.com.