A few words with chef Sachie Nomura.

What do you say to the person who says, "I can't cook"?

Yes you can! As long as you can follow instructions, you can definitely do it. You might be afraid to make mistakes but it's easy to learn. My dad just retired last year and has never cooked in his life, but he has re-invented himself and now cooks 80 per cent of the meals back home in Japan. You could always start out with the easy option and grab a meal kit that's already got the basics prepared for you. There's nothing wrong with a little helping hand, and you don't even have to tell anyone ...

What single ingredient could you not do without?

Rice or noodles. I am a carb-lover.


If you had $10 to make a single dish for a dinner party of four, what would you buy and what would you make?

In the winter, you could do a hotpot with seasonal Asian vegetables like daikon, hakusai (Chinese cabbage), carrot, tofu, mung bean sprouts and some form of protein, such as chicken. Second option is a dumpling party. This is very interactive and fun, too. You could either buy the pre-made dumpling pastry or you could make it yourself with flour, water and salt. The filling could be pork and chives, or chicken and prawn, or a vegetarian option. Lastly would be a Japanese curry with potato, onion and carrots with your choice of meat. This curry is a bit different from Indian or Thai - it's somewhere in between in terms of hotness. Be prepared to be addicted. You can pick up all the ingredients at Asian grocery stores for next-to-nothing, and they're all delicious and healthy, too.

What television food show are you addicted to?

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - the British version, it is much more informative, with not as much shouting or crazy emotions.

What utensil is a thing of beauty, both in its aesthetic and practical appeal?

Cooking chopsticks. These can be used for stirring (replacing a spoon), beating eggs (replacing a fork or whisk), frying, obviously transporting (replacing tongs) - it's multipurpose, and saves lots of space, hence my belief that less is more. It's another bonus that your drawers will be kept nice and tidy.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

A daikon. It's very versatile - and it cleanses the palate.