An Evening With Nagi Maehashi: Author of RecipeTin Eats Dinner

RecipeTin Eats book cover featured image

Nagi Maehashi is the founder of RecipeTin Eats, one of the most popular recipe websites in the world. Last year, her website was viewed over 335 million times! She also has 3.5 million followers on Facebook and 980k followers on Instagram.

It’s due to Nagi making her recipes ‘fool-proof’, meaning that Nagi will attempt a recipe as many as times as it takes to ensure that anyone following her recipe will get the desired result, i.e. the recipe will work! The resulting dish will look like it should and will be tasty. It won’t be a ‘hit and miss’ situation where it’ll be too dry or doesn’t taste any good and then thrown out. Nagi hates wasting food. She also doesn’t want to waste people’s money, time and effort. 

She made her ‘Perfect Vanilla Cake’ a record 89 times before she was totally happy with it (It’s on page 304 of her book). It’s her meticulous attention to detail that has garnered her the trust and admiration of so many people worldwide. 

Nagi has just produced her first cookbook titled: RecipeTin Eats: Dinner. It’s a curated selection of 150+ of her favourite and new recipes. She took even greater care with these recipes because she knew that she couldn’t update them once the book was published. I love how each recipe also has its own QR code which links to a step-by-step video of the dish being made.

Nagi’s a fantastic home cook and teacher. The recipes on the Recipetin Eats website and in her new book are a great resource for the home cook or anyone who just wants to reliably put together a lovely, tasty meal for their family with minimal fuss. 

My Introduction to RecipeTin Eats

I first discovered Nagi’s recipes over a year ago. I was looking online for a quick and easy baked fish recipe and came across her ‘Baked fish with lemon cream sauce recipe’. The recipe said the prep. time would be 5 minutes, and the cook time would be 10 minutes. I thought to myself: ‘Perfect, I’ll have dinner on the table in no time at all!’.  

I jumped into the car and drove to the supermarket, bought 2 barramundi fillets, cream, dijon mustard, and a lemon. I came back, and had dinner on the table within 20 minutes (I steamed some brocolini and carrots as a side dish). It was a hit! It was a really tasty, comfort food type dish. I’ve made this dish many times since :).

An Evening with Nagi Maehasi

I follow Nagi on Instagram and saw the Kinokuniya bookstore in Sydney was putting on ‘An Evening with Nagi Maehashi’ event where she’d be talking about her new book and doing a book signing. I luckily managed to buy the last ticket! It was held at the St Stephen’s Uniting Church on the 18th of October 2022. 

Nagi’s RecipeTin Eats story is very interesting and she also answered a lot of questions from the audience, so I thought I’d share some of the highlights of the evening from the notes I took here: 

Nagi Maehashi’s Backstory

Photo of Nagi Maehashi by Rob Palmer
Photo: Rob Palmer

Nagi had a very successful career in corporate finance (she was the Global Deputy CFO of Brookfield Multiplex. Source: LinkedIn) before she started on her RecipeTin Eats journey. She’d always “wanted to have a crack at something of her own” so she saved up enough money to last her a year of living and then resigned from her corporate job. 

So in 2014, Nagi started a recipe organization app called RecipeTin but it didn’t take off. She said the business model was wrong, but what came out of it was a website. She did some research and came across food blogs. So she pivoted and applied her finance and business background to figure out how she could monetize a food blog. 

She researched the industry, the online recipe world, her competitors, and looked at what was already out there. She analysed her own strengths and weaknesses and thought about what what she could offer to stand out in this space. 

She then developed a strategy to build RecipeTin Eats. She did financial forecasts, started the food blog and treated it like a business from day one. She was prepared to move back in with her mum if the site didn’t turn a profit within a year. For the first 10 months, Nagi did not make any income. On month 11, the website made $700, and she split the profit with her mum. This was validation of the business for Nagi. 

Her road to success was treating RecipeTin Eats like a business and figuring out what she had to upskill in and learning these skills. She initially didn’t know how to write recipes, shoot and edit videos, or take great photos, so she just “practiced, practiced, and practiced.” 

A Few Fun Facts About Nagi

  • Her favourite early go-to cookbook: Women’s Weekly Best Ever Recipes.  
  • Her 3 favourite foods are: cheese, bread & butter, and a glass of French bubbly (Nagi said if you say bread & butter quickly then it counts as 1 food ;)).
  • 5 things she’d take to a desert island: mac & cheese, a really good steak and the 3 items mentioned above.
  • She’s traveled extensively around the world and finds the sheer diversity and quality of food in Sydney amazing. The diversity of recipes in her book is a reflection of the diversity of cultures in Australia. 

Nagi’s Kitchen Tools

  • She has about 25-30 pots and about 25 pans in her kitchens. 
  • She loves using her skillet. 
  • Her favourite appliance is the stick blender. She uses it for everything and says it’s easy to use, clean and store. She said you can use it to make curry paste for example, without needing to bring out the blender and make a whole batch of it.
  • Most challenging recipe in her book is the Beef Wellington. It took over 35 attempts to get it to ‘fool-proof’ level. The result is an “incredibly juicy, edge-to-edge rose pink beef encased in pastry boasting a flawlessly crispy base.” This recipe is a cookbook exclusive recipe. 
  • Easiest recipe on her site is the Emergency “Dump & Bake” Fried Rice.
  • The most popular recipe on RecipeTin Eats is the Baked Chicken Breast. 
  • The recipe that took the longest time to perfect: Roast duck. Nagi made it 35-40 times but still hasn’t got it to the way she wanted it consistently enough, so she ended up leaving it out of the cookbook. 
  • The most challenging recipe she’s yet to perfect: Portuguese tarts. She hasn’t been able to make it to the quality she wants it to be in a home kitchen environment yet. 

Dozer the Star Golden Retriever

Photo of Dozer by Kirsten Lowe
Photo of Dozer taken by Kirsten Lowe at the Evening with Nagi Maehasi event

Dozer is Nagi’s BFF. He is Nagi’s adorably cute and much loved golden retriever companion of 10 years. He’s always by her side. He’s also her main ‘food tester.’ He’s amassed a huge fan base of his own, to such an extent that he has his own ‘Life of Dozer’ section at the bottom of every post. There’s also a special Dozer button at the top of each recipe for people who just want to skip the recipe and go straight to see what Dozer’s been up to first!

Dozer’s favourite foods are vegemite shapes and bbq chicken, and most likely everything Nagi cooks (though she didn’t say the last one). 

Nagi shared that she fell in love with Dozer as soon as she saw him. She was lined up to visit a number of puppies that day. He was the first puppy she saw and she knew he was the one. She even amazingly got him at 50% off as he was the last puppy to be sold. 

Nagi’s Foodbank Project: RecipeTin Meals

Nagi always wanted to help those in need and give back to the community. In August 2021, she launched RecipeTin Meals (a not-for-profit division of RecipeTin Eats) to help address issues of hunger and food insecurity by providing meals to those in need in the Sydney community. The initiative came together in a couple of weeks. She found a commercial kitchen in Kings Cross that she and her team could use to prepare these meals. 

RecipeTin Meals serves 100k meals a year. These are distributed to those in need by One Meal, a not-for-profit organisation.

RecipeTin Meals is privately and fully funded by RecipeTin Eats. 

Nagi says her team is her rock. They help her do so much more than she could ever get done by herself.

RecipeTin Eats: Dinner book

I bought the kindle version of the book so I could have it on my phone for convenience. The recipes in the book are categorised under the following sections: 

  • Everyday Food
  • Effortless
  • Stir-Fries & Noodles
  • What I do with A Piece Of…
  • Pasta & Cosy Food
  • Meal-Worthy Salads
  • Mexican Food
  • Asian Bites & Soups
  • Bigger Things
  • Sweet Endings
  • Everything Else You Need

I’m personally looking forward to making the perfect vanilla cake, butter chicken, miso-glazed eggplant, mum’s gyoza, beef lasagne and …. heaps of other recipes! They all look soooo good!

Final Notes

If you’re looking for some new and classic ‘fool-proof’ recipes to try, that don’t require much equipment or fuss but still taste incredible, then RecipeTin Eats: Dinner would be a great addition to your cookbook collection. 

Also, be sure to check out Nagi Maehashi’s RecipeTin Eats website too for 1200+ more recipes. You’ll never run out of ideas and things to cook, eat and enjoy! I also really appreciate the helpful recipe notes she adds to each recipe. 

Happy Cooking and Bon Apetit!

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