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Julie Biuso reveals her surprising secret passion

Much-loved food editor Julie Biuso shares the life-change that has reshaped her world.

When she was a child, Julie Biuso always used to love Tuesdays and Thursdays as those were the days her mother did the baking and filled the tins.

“I’d be home first, being the youngest of a large family, and I’d come round the side of the house to those wonderful smells of butter, sugar and vanilla,” she recalls.

Her mother was a good cook and she learned at her side, helping with the peeling and chopping. Years later, Julie is an award-winning food writer, with 16 cookbooks to her name and numerous appearances on radio and TV.

Now she is continuing the mother/daughter cooking tradition, modern-style, with a blog called Shared Kitchen.

Collaborating with her daughter Ilaria (24), she is dishing up food wisdom, recipes and lots of inspiration. It’s not the first time the pair have worked together.

“Ilaria used to help me with cooking demonstrations when she was young, and is keen on photography, so has been involved in magazine shoots,” explains Julie, who says they both share a similar food philosophy.

“We’re really close as a mother and daughter, and we are both interested in nutrition – how food makes you feel and the pleasure of sharing it.”

The difference in their ages and life stages gives Shared Kitchen a broad appeal. And last year, about six months after starting the blog, Ilaria headed to London for her OE, which has added an extra element.

“Ilaria loves travel and is excited about that,” says Julie. “Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the peace of home.”

It has been useful having a youngster to teach her about social media and show her how to take great photos with her iPhone. Even so, Julie has been surprised at how quickly she’s grasped new digital skills.

“I never thought I’d be able to do what I’m doing now,” she admits. “It’s pretty amazing what you can learn when you have to. I think that’s an important thing for people to realise – until you try something, you just don’t know.”

Becoming a blogger isn’t the only way Julie has reinvented herself since turning 60. After selling the family home on Auckland’s North Shore, she has a new life on Waiheke Island.

Her husband Remo is based in the city with their son Luca (29) and pops over for regular visits, leaving her with plenty of time alone to focus on her passion – writing poetry.

“It doesn’t mean we’re separating, not at all,” explains Julie. “I just decided that at my time of life what I needed to do, while I still could, was put myself first. I spent all those years jotting down a few lines of poetry on scraps of paper, then having to stop because a child comes home, dinner has to be put on or the washing machine beeps. So I’m loving being able to think and not having to stop the thoughts.”

Some of her work has been published in her local newspaper and Julie has also performed at a poetry event, which she admits was pretty nerve-wracking. Fortunately, she was sitting next to well-known poet Selina Tusitala Marsh, who encouraged her to give it a go.

“She told me, ‘It’s now or never,’ so I got up there and launched into it,” recalls Julie. “When I sat back down, Selina said my poems were fantastic and she highly recommended I push forward and perform more. That felt really good.”

Julie says her poetry is about life, death and everything in between.

“I’ve had a lot of sadness in my life. I lost a sister in February and a brother three years ago. Those are the things you draw from when you’re writing.”

An excited Julie says she wants to see how far she can take things with both Shared Kitchen and her poetry.

“I think Ilaria and I are still at the start of what we can do together. There will be more of a collaboration, I’d like to see us do some kind of book. And I’m holding cooking classes at my home on Waiheke to help pay my way, as well as focusing on building followers for the blog.”

Shared Kitchen is all about real food from scratch and won second best food website in the world recently at the Gourmand Awards held in China.

“The great thing about a blog is you get immediate feedback from followers,” tells Julie. “As people start to rely on your recipes, they become devotees. It’s wonderful to think you’re a part of their lives.”

Words: Nicky Pellegrino

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