Danika Helsop, Executive Chef for Jamaica Blue Cafe, has conquered kitchens around the globe and is the creator of our featured Recipe of the Month, Vegetable Quinoa Crust Pies. I was luckily enough to catch a minute of Danika's time recently to ask her a few questions;
What an amazing recipe Danika! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea?
The last national promotion that we launched for Jamaica Blue was a bespoke healthy food range which we labelled “Signature Harvest Collection”. As our pie range followed from this national promotion, I thought it was important to keep true to our new customer base ordering the new range of healthy products and have a product in the pie range which was still healthy and nutritious to eat. From there, our product development team came up with a few options that met the brief and we selected the quinoa pie as a tasty point of difference.
I believe you’ve worked in some incredible kitchens in your past? What has been one of the most memorable kitchen moments?
During my time at Quay, our Chef Peter Gilmore did a joint dinner with three Michelin star French Chef Michel Bras. This was one of the most exciting and interesting degustation services I was ever a part of. I am very passionate about cooking or preparing dishes which highlight produce, and that is the core of both of these chef’s food philosophy. Michel Bra was the chef who pioneered the ‘coulant de chocolate’ or as we know it, the warm molten chocolate cake! It was a very inspirational experience.
You’re now working as a food developer for Jamaica Blue - how did that come about?
After moving back to Sydney after living abroad in Oslo, Norway, I was ready for a career change. I still very much wanted to do something with food and I was very passionate about training as well. As I was searching for a foodie role that was ‘out of the box’, I came across a field role in Jamaica Blue which really appealed to me. I had never thought about a career in Franchising or QSR prior to that, but this role offered me the ability to travel around, meet many different people and pass on the skills that I had learnt in my chef career to young Jamaica Blue staff across Australia. From there my role developed as the brand grew and I was able to take the learnings from the field to create simple and tangible products with the food development team.
What’s your favourite “go to” takeaway dish?
Breakfast is such an important meal of the day, and I find this time of day is when I am most in a rush! For me nothing beats a good bacon and egg roll when on the go! Crusty bread, good quality bacon and a gooey egg. Pairs perfectly of course with a great takeaway coffee!
What can we expect to come out of your test kitchen in the lead up to Spring?
Our development team have been working on a new range of fruit and vegetable smoothies using plant base milks which will be a great addition to our summer menu range. We are also working on some seasonal Christmas recipes to launch in December with a Jamaican twist!