Dani Valent – Writer. Eater. Traveller. Cook.


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Perfect Cheesecake’s Secret Ingredient

Life goes better with Basque cheesecake, a lockdown #2 love affair. I became obsessed with this cake about five years ago when I ate it in San Sebastian at La Viña pintxos bar. It was perilously wobbly and jiggly, somehow both light and rich, creamy white and custardy within but with a bitter edge from the dark, caramelised perimeter. I mumbled, “It’s a miracle,” and I meant it.


Mums Day Post Montage(3)

Mother’s Day Menu

Mother’s Day doesn’t have to mean burnt toast in bed and bad soap from school stalls. If you are a mum, you can steer the family towards these menu suggestions, and if you have a mum, please enjoy these suggestions for Mum-friendly dishes and tasty gifts that keep on giving.



Zhoug Salmon Salad(edited)

Zhoug & Salmon Salad

I love a big meal-sized salad! Flavoured with green chilli paste, this steamed salmon salad is healthy, flexible and easy to prepare

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  • ‘I feel she is my mum’: How a shearing-shed cook and a Syrian refugee became family
    By Dani Valent July 1, 2022 — 3.59pm Marcia Jolley, 81, used to work as a cook in outback shearing sheds. She’s now “Mum” to Nayran Tabiei, 52, a Syrian refugee and cafe owner in Melbourne. They support each other, feed each other and, quite simply,…
  • ‘I feel she is my mum’: How a shearing-shed cook and a Syrian refugee became family
    By Dani Valent July 1, 2022 — 3.59pm , register or subscribe to save articles for later. Marcia Jolley, 81, used to work as a cook in outback shearing sheds. She’s now “Mum” to Nayran Tabiei, 52, a Syrian refugee and cafe owner in Melbourne. They…
  • James review
    Five minutes after I get off the phone from a fact-checking chat with chef Sangsoo Kim, he calls me back. "Actually, I think it is Korean-Australian food," he says. "Or Australian-Korean." In our previous discussion, Kim asked me what cuisine I…
  • Bhang review
    Let's get one thing clear. You can't come to Bhang for bhang, a cannabis paste widely available in India and a longstanding remedy in ayurvedic medicine. You should still visit this fun bar and restaurant though. It's tucked just off Sydney Road, is…


* Link in bio *

Marcia Jolley was at a low ebb after losing her husband when she met Syrian refugee Nayran Tabiei, her husband Majid and daughter Elyanoura almost a decade ago. She liked their company - "they are so nice and so giving" - and they made friends.⁠

"Straight away, she opened the door to us as a family," says Tabiei, 52. "It was very surprising to us, for someone from Australia to accept us, respect us."⁠

But as Dani Valent reveals in today's Good Weekend magazine, what impressed Jolley, 81, was their attitude as they started here from nothing – in Damascus, Tabiei was rich, with a Mercedes in her garage before it was bombed, but the family arrived in Australia "barefoot, with nothing". Jolley, who used to work as a cook in outback shearing sheds, hadn't known much about refugees until they met.⁠

"I'm going to adopt you as my daughter," she told Tabiei, whose mum had passed away when she was six. Now, as Tabiei says, "I have someone to remember me every night, someone to call when I have something to tell."⁠

They talk, laugh, play cards, and cook for each other – Tabiei runs the Flavours of Syria cafe in Melbourne's St Kilda. She was able to turn to Jolley when a mysterious request accompanied her first catering order: "Someone told me, 'Bring to the barbie some nibblies.' I asked her, what is 'nibblies' and what is 'barbie'?"⁠

"Now I know."⁠

Read more in Saturday’s Good Weekend, or visit the link in our bio.⁠
@goodweekendmag @flavours_of_syria⁠

Story by @danivalent⁠
Photograph by @simonschluter⁠
#goodweekendmag #twoofus #friendship
Reposted from @theageaustralia

“I can buy a steak for $10!” is the fancy restaurant equivalent of sneering “My kid could paint that!” at an abstract art show.

My story about the cost of dining out is via link in bio and at @theageaustralia

Waste Not, Want Not: link to my food waste story in my bio...

Australians waste the equivalent of 312 kilos of food – most of it edible – per person. In Saturday's Good Weekend, meet the innovative minds figuring out how to dispose of the problem.

Some of the ideas may make your head spin: bartender Matt Whiley, of Sydney's Re, distills lamington offcuts with spirits to blend into a coconut cocktail. Strawberry tops are infused into water that’s added to a gin cocktail. Plums rescued from a nearby greengrocer are reduced to a syrup, then turned into an aromatic liquor. Indeed, Re's menu consists of surplus food and by-products which would otherwise be binned. "I couldn't deal with throwing stuff out any more," Whiley says. They're small gestures for a mammoth problem, he concedes: "To say that we’re making change would be a lie. But we are starting conversations."

Then there's Melbourne chef Dennis Yong, of Parcs ("'scrap' backwards"). Instead of making a mirepoix with fresh carrot, onion and celery, he fashions a "treacle" using the likes of melon peel, herb stems, onion skin and garlic skin. "Cuttings and scraps are full of promise," he says.

And food waste extends beyond kitchens and homes, which is where Farmers Pick's Josh Brooks-Duncan and Josh Ball come in. They're working directly with farmers to sell their "imperfect" produce rejected by supermarket chains due to appearance – about one-quarter of what's grown - in produce boxes sold directly to consumers across Melbourne and now Sydney. It's another step towards flipping an embarrassing Western trend: "Taste and nutrition should be the most important aspects for food," says Ball, "but aesthetics have become number one."

Read more in Saturday’s Good Weekend, or visit the link in our bio.


Story by @danivalent

Photograph by @petertarasiuk

Reposted from @goodweekendmag

Today on @dirtylinenpodcast, we acknowledge the essential work of dishies!

Nishchal Niraula washes dishes at @vuedemonde and exec chef @hughsallen says he's an absolute legend.

Without people like Nishchal, restaurants would quite simply cease to operate.

We chat to Nishchal about his work, his journey from Nepal and his plans for the future.

Listen to Dirty Linen via link in bio or click through from my story.

Are you / do you know a dishie who is up for a chat? DMs open!


Holding a hose

Celebrating amazing service!

It's not easy out there for restaurants - everyone is struggling to find enough staff with the right skills to deliver the experience they are striving for. That puts extra pressure on the people who are on deck - they're often covering more tables, territory and shifts, they might be upskilling at a rapid pace, and they are dealing with customers who aren't always leading with kindness and empathy.

With all that in mind HOW GOOD IS CHORNG 🤩😁💖 building a prawn cocktail tableside at @omniabistro. Such a great vibe here and the upscale, intentional bistro food from @chefstevenairn and @johndemetrios is on point. Love it.

@xiuchorng 👏👏👏

#melbourne #melbournerestaurants #melbournefoodie #melbournefood #southyarra

Old-school Chinese restaurants in country towns are treasures. Prawn toast is always compulsory. Went down well with a Crown lager too 🍤🍞🍺

I thought of @jenniferwongcomedian's great show #chopsticksorfork - check it out on @abctv.

#narooma #chineserestaurant #prawntoast #chinesefood

Anzac Crack.

Annual outing. Lifetime love.

Recipe Julia Taylor
Photo @gregelmsphoto
Inspo @christinatosi
Published in my 2nd cookbook, In the Mix 2

Link in bio.

Here's what's on my mind this Friday! I fill you in on where I've been eating and what it's made me ponder. I muse on the tendency for immigrant cuisine to be anchored in the time of migration and the fresh joy when it time travels. I talk about Cam Tay-Yap's Koi pop-up and the lift-me-up energy in the room. And I consider rule changes: masks and vax check-ins are gone but is it entirely good?

This episode of @dirtylinenpodcast is proudly supported by @squareau

Link in bio or search Dirty Linen in your podcast app 🎧

@danivalent @dirtylinenpodcast @foodwinedine @huckstergram @deepintheweedspodcast #DirtyLinenPodcast @cam_taysty @amaru_melbourne @tylersmilkbar @taitas.house1 @plaka_gyros @melbcomedyfestival

Pic credit: @baeofpigeons 👏

From Friday 22 April 11.59pm

Patrons will no longer have to show vaccination status at any venue.

Existing worker vaccination mandates are still in place.

Check-ins will no longer be required at any venue.

Masks will no longer be required in hospitality.

COVID Marshals no longer required.

Close contacts will no longer have to quarantine but will have to wear a mask indoors, avoid sensitive settings and record at least 5 negative rapid tests over 7 days.

COVID cases must still isolate for 7 days.

People who have had COVID-19 will now be exempt from testing or quarantine for 12 weeks, up from 8 weeks.

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© Dani Valent 2022