Family Food Fight judge Anna Polyviou's creations are straight out of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory — who can forget that firecracker dessert?
As the Executive Chef at Sydney's exclusive Shangri-La Hotel, she continually dreams up colourful creations that make us drool (tip: don't look at her Instagram when you're hungry) and bakes cakes for A-listers like Kelly Rowland on the regular.
We caught up with Anna to talk learning to cook with her grandma, the ingredient she can't live without, why she decided to swap rapping for cooking and kitchen nightmares — which still happen when you're at the top of your game.
No, I hoped to be a rapper and break dancer. Then I realised I just wanted to entertain. I knew I wanted to be a chef in year 12, and thankfully cooking has allowed me to entertain and make people happy.
I started cooking from a young age with mum and my grandma at home and then I did my apprenticeship at Hotel Sofitel Melbourne, but it's a constant process. Even when I was working at KFC I learned about rotating food and coating chicken.
All the time, that's the only way you can learn. You need to learn to continue to grow and develop; some of the best ideas have come from mistakes.
I see if I can bring it back and try to use it for something else. If I do make a mistake, I bring my team together so they don't do the same thing. I like to be open about it.
I love cooking for my partner Casey, it seriously makes me happy. Not only to cook for her, but to sit down and eat together. It's one of life's true pleasures.
That makes me sooooo happy. I love it. Whenever you receive a compliment in general it is a good thing. It motivates me to cook more and keep creating. It fires me up, every time I create something that people love.
Everywhere and anywhere! For example, I like taking classic dishes and twisting them into a modern version. My staff, social media, magazines and generally my environment also inspire me.
Definitely! My mum is quite creative, she was good at sewing, and I was very good at drawing cartoons as a kid, but have lost the skill now. I am not great academically, but my creative side compensated for that.
Vanilla pods, because they have a beautiful aromas. You can use it for savoury and sweet, it gives food another essence.
I look up to people who are around me, I don't tend to get excited about people I don't know. My Mum is a very important influence in my life. And Julie Sharp who I worked with in London, she inspired me, and couldn't eat dairy, and it was inspiring to see her create desserts without it. She won best Pastry Chef in the UK, so it proves that even with limitations in your life you can work around them to achieve whatever you want.
Simple, fresh food with loads of veggies. I prefer seafood, so usually shellfish, like prawns. At work, I like to experiment and come up with talking point desserts.
I don't like baked beans. My mum used to make me eat them when I was younger, and I hate them. And I have to be in the mood for eggs. I had way too many when I was younger around Greek Easter!
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