Australian cook, host, presenter and Masterchef star
I am very excited to welcome Dani Venn to the podcast this week.
Dani is a Melbourne based cook, lover of all things food and mum to Harlow (7) and Oscar (4). As a self-taught cook, Dani loves nothing more than spending time in the kitchen with her kids, preparing nourishing meals using fresh, wholesome ingredients.
Dani is most widely known for her time on MasterChef Australia; as a finalist in 2011, All Stars in 2012 and contestant on MasterChef: Back to Win in 2020. Her cooking talents have taken her across the world, from live food events, to hosting foodie retreats in places like Bali and Sri Lanka, as well cooking for events of all sizes, from intimate dinner parties to 400 people in Mumbai!
After being awarded her immunity pin for winning dish “Taste Of Sri Lanka” on the first episode of MasterChef Back To Win, Dani also released a collaborative range of Sri Lankan inspired simmer sauces with Coles Supermarkets and currently has two flavours on the shelf inspired by her travels and one of her favourite places on earth.
Recently Dani has launched her first podcast, Falling For You, a podcast about getting comfortable in your own skin where Dani interviews inspiring guests that have changed their life. Falling For You reached #1 in education on Apple Podcasts and Season One has consistently ranked in the top 20 podcasts on education and self-improvement in Australia and New Zealand.
Dani is a regular guest cooking live on air with her kids on Studio 10 and has been a cooking guest on Everyday Gourmet and Farm to Fork. Dani has also hosted her own TV show Weekend Feast (10) and hosted summer radio on Nova FM Melbourne.
Currently you can catch Dani on the insta live show, Undercooked Overseasoned, where she and Conor Curran catch up and chat about the latest Masterchef Australia episodes.
Dani is also proud to be an Ambassador for the Royal Flying Doctors.
Today we chat about Dani's adventures on Masterchef, the joys of feeding our children and how becoming a mother changed her approach to not only food but to how she approached +business.
Music on today's episode from Australian trio Alemjo is used with permission.
Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast
I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!
Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.
Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast where we hear from mothers who are artists and creators sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mother and continue to make art. Regular topics include mum guilt, identity, the day to day juggle mental health, and how children manifest in their art. My name is Alison Newman. I'm a singer songwriter, and a mom of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness, and a background in early childhood education. You can find links to my guests and topics they discuss in the show notes, along with music played a link to follow the podcast on Instagram, and how to get in touch. All music used on the podcast is done so with permission. The art of being a mom acknowledges the bone tech people as the traditional custodians of the land and water, which this podcast is recorded on and pays respects to the relationship the traditional owners have with the land and water as well as acknowledging past present and emerging elders. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really excited to welcome to the podcast Danny van Danny van is a Melbourne based Cook, lover of all things food and mum to Harlow and Oscar. As a self taught cook Danny loves nothing more than spending time in the kitchen with her kids preparing nourishing meals using fresh wholesome ingredients. Danny is most widely known for her time on MasterChef Australia as a finalist in 2011, the old stars in 2012 and on Master Chef back to win in 2020. Her cooking talents have taken her across the world from live food events to hosting foodie retreats in places like Bali and Sri Lanka, as well as cooking for events of all sizes from intimate dinner parties to 400 people in Mumbai, India, after being awarded her immunity pin winning dish taste of Sri Lanka on the first episode of Master Chef back to when Danny also released a collaborative range of Sri Lankan inspired cinema sources with Coles supermarkets, and currently has two flavors on the shelf inspired by her travels, and one of her favorite places on earth. Danny recently just launched her first podcast falling for you. A podcast about getting comfortable in your own skin where Danny interviews inspiring guests that have changed their lives. Danny is a regular guest cooking live on air with her kids on studio 10 and has been cooking guest on everyday Gourmet and farm to fork. Danny has also hosted her own TV show we can feast on channel 10 and hosted summer radio on Nova FM in Melbourne. Today, we chat about Danny's adventures on Master Chef, the joys of feeding our children and how becoming a mother changed her approach to not only food, but to how she approached her business music on today's episode is from Australian trio. Lm Joe. And he's used with permission. I hope you enjoy. Hello. Hello. How's it going?
Thank you. How are you? Yeah, really good.
Thanks. It's so lovely to meet you. And to have you here.
Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me. So it's very nice to be interviewed on a podcast and and being the you're in the driver's seat be in the past.
actually interviewed a lady yesterday, he ran her own podcast as well. And she said the same thing. It's like she can just enjoy and next thing, so oh my gosh, yeah. So most people would know you from Master Chef. But before we sort of talk about anything like that, can you share with us? Where did your love from cooking come from initially?
Well, I always have loved eating and I feel like to be a good cook, you have to be a good eater. And I was never the kid that went to a restaurant and ordered nuggets and chips or the same thing. I'd always be interested in ordering something a little more exotic, something that I perhaps hadn't tried before, much to the dismay of my parents, I guess because they had to pay more for a meal. I'm always really supportive of that. And I think my mom loved cooking. still does. And when I was a kid, she went off to cooking classes with I don't know if you remember Elizabeth Chang, but she was one Yeah, one of the first sort of celebrity chefs. So she went to her house and learn how to cook Chinese food. She'd come back with all of these exotic recipes. And we would you know, we would cook them. Mom's pantry was full of exotic ingredients. I mean, exotic for the 90s You know,
yeah, yeah, for sure. Yeah.
You know, black vinegar or something like that, which is kind of stead these days but and so I grew up with mum really being a little bit more adventurous than your average, suburban cook. And so I just loved. I loved eating, I think I think I just get so much joy from tasting new flavors and trying new techniques. And I think what I love about food is that there is net. I think what I love about food is that you there is you can never know everything. There's always room to learn, especially when it comes to different countries, cuisines, and always learning about food and cooking. So yeah,
yeah. So where did your mum's sort of adventurousness come from was she sort of just that kind of woman that she was just really keen to learn? Or was there any sort of like cultural background that sort of drove here?
Yeah, um, my mom's dad actually, is, I always get this wrong. I shouldn't know this. Half, half Chinese. Yeah. So his family actually came from China back when Chinese people came to Australia during the Gold Rush period. So it was sort of the mid 1800s. And I think that my mom's love of food came from that wanting that connection to her cultural heritage, even though it went back quite a few generations. And my great great grandfather would have assimilated quite quickly to Australian culture, he married into an Irish, an Irish woman. But food was always a constant in their family. As well, they had a stall at the Queen Victoria Market. They had a Chinese restaurant. And even though my mom's dad passed away when she was really, really young, and never really knew him, I think it was her way to connect to her father, and that Chinese background plus it's just a little bit more exciting than meeting through veg.
Oh, you said your your story of going out for dinner with your family sounds the exact opposite to mine, because I was so afraid of eating different foods. I'm sure I sent my mom crazy, because all I wanted was at that time I ate meat. So I had sausages and chips. Literally. That's all I'd have. And I remember one time going to this restaurant, and they didn't have sausages on the menu. And I started crying because I didn't know what else I was gonna eat. And eventually, they dug around in the freezer, and they found me something. It's like, oh, so it was now completely different, thank goodness, but oh my gosh, it was
often the way kids don't want to eat veggies or they don't want to eat anything exciting when they're little but then when they get up get older and they start cooking for themselves. Their palate changes completely. And I know a friend of mine who was on MasterChef was exactly the same. She didn't eat any any veg didn't eat anything. And I feel like as a parent, you're freaked out because you're like, Oh, I'm not a good job. But now she's she's a kitchen garden teacher. She's obviously been a master chef. She loves food and cooking. So you know, there is hope for us parents if your kids very much when they
do Yeah, I'm sure there's a lot of people that can relate to that. Listening to this. It is it's such a stressful being and you think oh my god, what am I doing to them?
Before you went on MasterChef was cooking like a part of your job or your career or was it just something I don't say just because it's not just but something you did as a hobby, just a passion sort of thing? Yeah, it's
really weird that I never even had any interest in say doing. I think it was called. What was it called at you
at school, or like Homeric or something?
Homeric. I never had an interest of doing homework or anything like that when I was at high school. And I didn't think of hospitality as a career, or cooking even when I was at uni, because I studied media communication. And even though I worked in restaurants, it wasn't until I actually had my first job out of uni. And I was working at Circus Oz actually, which is modern Australian performance circus. And I started just getting really obsessed with cooking Vietnamese food, because I had lived in Vietnam when I had first left school. And I just got really obsessed with trying new recipes and really following recipes to a tee which is not something I do anymore. But I was just interested in like, not mastering cuisine, because you can never do that. But just really just get nailing those flavor combinations, and understanding how Vietnamese people cook. So that was kind of the first thing that I was like, and I just just Hey, more alarming, I think because I spent so much time on, like taste.com. And I was reading recipes and I was supposed to be working. And I think it was when you know when you're younger and you have like a dream job, and my dream job was to work at the Malthouse Theatre, which I have sort of a driver background at school and things like that I love performance. And that was kind of like the ultimate place that I could work at. And I got a job at the Malthouse theatre. And I was in the publicity team, which I didn't know, at the time, I was really excited. But then when I actually got into the role, I was like, This is not what I expected. It wasn't very challenging for me. And I also was just like, I loved the theater, and I loved the team. But it just didn't feel right. And that's when I sort of saw the applications for Master Chef and I thought this could be something and at the time, I was considering even doing a chef apprenticeship. But I wasn't it was kind of like two forks in the road. Do I do a chef apprenticeship? Or do I stay here in this job that I thought was gonna be amazing with doesn't really feel right, or do I, you know, take the plunge and apply for mastership?
Hmm. And I don't want to say the rest is history, because there's a lot of things that happened in there. But that was the start of it.
Yeah, I was. And I did actually get offered some apprenticeships, some chef apprenticeships at really great restaurants that I still love today. And it was funny, because I remember thinking, I want to do this, I remember being offered $10 an hour, and I've been working a few years, so wasn't used to getting paid $10 an hour. And then I feel like I love talking too much. And in a kitchen, you have to really be kind of quiet. It's very regimented. And you have to put your head down and work. People liken it to sort of an army, some kitchens, because it is like everyone has a specific role. And I'm not sure if it suited my personality, as well. I love the creativity around cooking. And when you're a part of a team and a kitchen often you're assigned just one part of a dish rather than creating a whole dish for instance. Oh, Master Chef, what's seem to me more of an exciting adventure, which is kind of how I make most of my decisions in
the game so fun, yeah. Say you said that you were following recipes like to the tee at that point. When you go on like a show like that? Do you have to like learn and remember so much stuff? Because you're thrown in the deep end? And then does that challenge you? When you when they open up that mystery box? And you're like, oh, what like it? Is that really a confronting thing? Like challenges the way that you like to work?
Oh, yes. I mean, I, being a master chef is honestly the most scary thing ever. And I think the first time I went on, which was 2011, I was a really recipe based Cook, and I crammed as much information as I could remembering recipes and ratios. And then now I am very much more of a go by feel based Cook, which doesn't necessarily work with when you're a master chef. Because you have to know how to, especially with dessert, you have to remember how to make things properly. And and I'm not really a precise cook, I can never make a really great pastry chef. But when you open up that mystery box, do you know what it's, it's not so much the mystery box of ingredients because I do that every night when I open the fridge and cook my kids you know, it's more the fact that you're on masters. And especially when I was on back to win and you take a look around the room, and you're like you're against some of the best cooks in the country and people that have you know, written recipe books, they've hosted television shows, they have incredible restaurants, they're they're the best at what they do. And then you're standing there for me personally and I was like, I think the whole impact of that and the lights and the cameras and it's a it's a really stressful situation. So you think oh yeah, I'm gonna make dumplings and then you go sit in standing next to pole which you're probably much better at me than that. Oh, make a cake. it Oh, Reynolds standing there, you know? So it's very, I think that that was so extreme that situation. But I like to cook like that I love getting a box of veggies or for instance and going okay, cool. Well I can make something was a Kenyan can make something with that and following my intuition I think is more important for me than following a recipe. But I did start with following recipe.
Yeah, it's like getting that grounding, that sort of basics, like you said, the ratios and understanding of the flavor combinations, and then you can go right, and then you let that creativity coming up.
Yeah, that's right. I feel like once you've got the nuts and bolts of how cooking as a science works, you can then play around with, with obviously, flavor, accommodations and all sorts of things. But, you know, I'm a mom at the end of the day, and a lot of my cooking is so boring. Like, you know, I've, I've got my kids. So my husband and I separate my ex husband and I separated a few years ago, so I've got nights where I cook for the kids and I've got nights where I cook for myself or sometimes I cook for my boyfriend or friends. And it's so amazing the difference when you cook like and I like the kids complain about every single thing I cook I Yeah. Even like what's for dinner? I don't even know chickens do ever I yak like, absolutely instant reaction. And I'm like, thanks. Just try it first. And then you know, they're actually good eaters. But that instant reaction is a Yeah, so it's so nice when actually do get a little bit of time to be a bit more creative and cook for someone that actually appreciate rather than just cooking with beef.
But you know what, I think what you just said that is so reassuring for I don't want to call anyone an ordinary mum, because we're all amazing, but you've been on Master Chef and your children still have that mentality. It's like you can't change children. That's just how they are. So
no, that's 100 say unless it's like, what's something that they'll always say? Yes. Oh, like spaghetti carbonara always yes, but I try not to make that all the time. So the most nutritious meal pork crackling Absolutely. But you know, yeah, nine times out of 10 I'm still getting I'm still getting shut down. But with all my meals.
Oh, that's cool, isn't it? So you've got you've got two children Harlow and Oscar. They seem like very fun children like you incorporate them on your social media and things like that. Yeah, tell us a little bit more about about your kids.
Oh, they are very fun. And so funny, I think especially asked, isn't that very cute age, he's just turned four. So everything that comes out of his mouth is kind of funny and very cute. He still hasn't really mastered the whole language thing, which is fine. He's only Justin four. And then Harlow, she's seven and just shooting up before my very eyes. I honestly think she'll be taller than me in a few years. She's super. Just just so wonderful in that she. It's so nice to see her go back to school and really flourish this year. I mean, Melbourne. So we've had basically her first two years of school being taken away from her. So it's really nice that say her getting into that flow of school and making new friends and all of that. So both of them are very outgoing. I would say they're both extroverted personality and just interested in the world, which is lovely hollows, especially. She's got a very kind, caring environmental conscious conscience. I'm very bad at pronouncing words. And Oscar's just ridiculously energetic wants to give everything a go and very loud, very loud. But yeah, they're great. And life with them has been here so different. And we've had so many changes over the last few years. And it's sometimes you get worried because it's like, oh my gosh, so much has been thrown at our young kids, not only with the pandemic, but with like our personal situation as well and but they come at, you know, stronger and they also are so resilient. And they're such good kids. So I'm very lucky
Yeah, that's awesome. I work in childcare. It's my day job. And I think I think parents, like adults are constantly being surprised by children how resilient, resilient that they are and how adaptable they are. And I think sometimes we don't give them enough credit that they're actually good better at coping at some things than what we
were stocking our ways. And they're very much more flexible. Yeah,
that's it, isn't it? I can go with the flow and not have this whole big head full of stuff. They're just concentrating on what's happening right in front of them.
Well, that's right. That's right, Oscar, especially because he's that bit younger. He's just he lives in the moment right now. So he doesn't understand when I say all in you know, a few days time we're going to do this. He's like, No, I want to do it now. Right now? Because, like, why wouldn't you want to do it right now?
Oh, that's a cool, little D. Since you left Master Chef, give us a bit of a rundown of all the exciting things that you've been able to do and create and
Oh, yeah. It's such a big question. It's been, I think it's just your 10, almost 11 years or something. Something like that so long. I feel like when I finished master chef, and my whole attitude, when I was first on master chef was like, a constant surprise, like, surprise that I got through the next challenge surprise that I've, you know, made it to the last week on the show, surprise, once I finished that people wanted to work with me. And it was just like, oh, my gosh, I could actually make a career out of this, you know, and it's not, you know, I was in my mid 20s At the time, and I was like, oh, you know, I could get do something out of this situation. It's always a bit of a surprise. But it doesn't come without pushing yourself and hard work, I guess with, you know, creating relationships with people as well. So my life has changed so much since, you know, being on the show the first time when it comes to those really big exciting things. I've done. Talent, lots of television presenting. So that's been really fun. We've got a new project in the pipeline as well for later on this year. Again, just like pinch me that these things are still happening. I've done breakfast radio, which has been which was really fun. That was that was quite a while ago now. But that was definitely something that I loved. And I would still love to do radio. I I've done lots of traveling like overseas, working with people like in India, for instance, they wanted me to come over and do a massive event over there. So that was amazing. Lots of traveling myself, I do retreats. So I've done retreats in Bali and Sri Lanka. Now now with COVID I'm doing the more in Australia. I Gosh, events just throughout the country cooking, like live cooking events, all of these amazing fun things. And and since being on the show the second time around, which was in 2020 collaborated with Cole's producing the Danny van sama source range, which has been really great. And then I've done lots of, I guess, during the pandemic, it's changed from a lot of live events and lots of traveling to more online. So that's probably why like, I guess like Instagram has become so important for work. Our marketing teams are now doing a lot more online content. So that's really fun, because I do have a media communications, you know, branding background, so to be able to use those skills for my own personal brand has been really great. And then I've done the boring stuff as well like boring stuff that actually when I look back on was amazing. I loved which was like just cooking in kitchens, launching I've helped launch people's restaurants I've worked in like an organic whole food, food delivery service just in the kitchen cooking. That was one of the first jobs I did when I after I had Harlow because I just needed to get out of the house and it was only I've only worked there for like three or four months but I still put it down to was one of the best jobs I've had I liked it. You know, so many different things. And things keep coming and I think that's a result of me knocking on people's doors making connections and building relationships over a period of 10 years.
Yeah, that's the thing. It's not like an instant HIGO have all this stuff in the world that you've ever trained with second, you actually have to do the work.
Yeah. And I still every year, I'm like, I think I do enjoy, you know, plotting my urine, writing down goals and all of those things. And yes, sometimes I write the same thing every year, because it's okay. But yeah, it's, it's a work in progress. And you just never take anything for granted. And I also never, I think, after working for myself for so long, I never. If something comes along with opportunity, I never get too excited about it. Because again, a lot of things come to you, but not a lot of things get pulled off. So over the years, there's been so many exciting things that I'm like, oh, yeah, we could do this. We could do this. We could do this. But you know, everything has to align for certain projects to actually happens. For sure.
Yeah. So when you're going through and looking at your goals, like over the period of time, how did you How was your thinking changing when you became a mum? Yeah,
I think having Harlow changed my life so much. And the way I think about work and everything, I think, not only did it influence my food, but it also influenced my business. So I guess before having Harlow I cooked like any normal cook does with traditional ingredients. And then when I had Harlow, it sort of, I had an opportunity to feed a human from scratch. And I think lots of new parents are like alright, well what do we feed this child. So it really sparked my interest in more whole foods and Whole Foods being just less processed foods. So I went down for many, many years, I became really so intrigued with just creating more alternative recipes. It was kind of when you know, raw food was even like a thing. And then gluten free. And all of these allergies that people had developed over other lifetime or born with I was really interested in creating recipes that helped people and help people feel better. And I still very much am. And to me, I felt like it was a whole new set of ingredients where my creativity flourished, because it was just a different way of approaching things. So how can you make something tastes happy and make a cake tastes good when it's dairy and gluten free and still have a great texture. So I was really, I just became really fascinated with those ingredients. And then I would obviously use it was guinea pig as well. Which which actually didn't turn out great at one point because she ended up having a cashew nut Island. And a lot of my food that I was making was cashew bass, because that's what happens when you make a lot of robes and change the way that I cooked. And now I feel like I'm a lot more relaxed, especially after the pandemic. I still use like traditional ingredients, but I mix it up like I think some of the stuff that my body rotates, I would never given up. But I think everyone's just relaxed for the last few years. Yeah, and also, I guess, with business. I think, um, I think it was, I think I think I changed because I realized I had a human that I needed to be recycled had to be responsible for. And when Harlow was younger, there was a certain point where my ex husband and I like temporarily broke up and I remember thinking, shit, I've got like a five month old. I think it was around that time. And I need to be financially responsible enough for myself to be able to fend for myself and also hurt. So it really motivated me to start. I actually started consulting business when she was about one. And I had this drive inside of me that I feel like I just didn't want to be one of those parents, which I mean it's hard because everyone's situation is different, but I just didn't want to be in a situation where I had to be in a relationship because financially I couldn't afford not to be and I kind of Yeah, I feel like that was a really big thought whether it was real or imagined or whatever, but it was just there. So we got back together soon after and everything was fine for quite a few years. But I Still was like, had that thing I was like, I've got a I've got a mum, I need to be able to be responsible and financially independent as well. So that changed.
Yeah, for sure. Because yeah, that's the thing, isn't it? Like you say, it's not just you anymore, you've got this other little person. And maybe if it was just you, you'd go, Oh, I'll make it work. I'll you know, do this and that, but it's like, oh, no, I've got this other person, I've really got to,
yeah, I started taking business a lot more seriously. And I started being like, you know, kind of get my shit together. I can as a freelancer for so many years, just going from one job to the next. And, you know, I think like, it changed. I was like, No, I want to make a proper company. I want to have proper clients, I want to set myself up like a proper business. And so I learned a lot more and in that, and I also did a lot more self development stuff as well, which I think happens when you get a little bit older.
I'm actually finding that a lot of people I talk to, I'm glad it's not just me, it's like this point in your life and you see things differently. I don't know. It's an incredible thing.
My bookshelves are lined with all sorts of self help books. I love them. I love. My one that I read last night was about. I did not do the thing today about productivity. And yeah, yeah, I just find all of these books. Interesting. Even if they potentially don't even relate to me. I just I love hearing other perspective, people's perspectives on life and business and psychology and human behavior and all of that. Yeah,
me too. It's really fascinating, isn't it? It's cool. You're listening to the art of being a mom with my mom, Alison
Newman. You mentioned your Instagram, which I'm really glad you did. Because your Instagram if anyone listening has not looked at Danny's Instagram, please go look at it because it's so vibrant and so fun and just so uplifting. And that's interesting. You say you've sort of had that background in drama, because you're very good actress. Thank you. There's a lot of fun on your Instagram.
I do enjoy making those little videos. It's quite funny. And yeah, drama is one of those things that as like, at high school, I flipped like loved that was like my life I wanted to do that as a living. And when I sort of got out of school I was like maybe I'm not I don't know, you doubt yourself but I but I loved that spin in me
so you really have all of these different elements V passions that you're actually able to sort of combine in what you're doing now you've got your cooking you've got your your acting and your you've got like your your background in promotions and publicists that you can do with your your social media. So it's really like I bet you didn't have that on your on your goals. Let's just it sort of happened that way.
Yeah, it's amazing. What Yeah, how I guess your life experiences then go on to form you and your life and what you're doing work and I'm very lucky that I have been able to Yeah, follow my passions and and I think make money from it as well, which is really important. And even now I'm like, alright, well, what's my next thing? And I did, I started a podcast last year, which was really, again, something I was scared. But something I love, I love talking on on the microphone, and I love audios and medium, but it kind of scared me a little bit as well to do that. So I am interviewing someone which I think you're doing a great job, by the way. But interviewing people is kind of scary as well. So, you know, I'm always trying to think alright, what is it that I want to do? And how can I? How can I use my skills to to to create a new project? So yeah, it's always vulnerable with I have an overactive brain. It's ridiculous. Like I do regret from one thing to the next to the next and, you know, ADHD videos on Tiktok are really making me consider going to a psychologist
Oh, thank goodness you are doing what you're doing because it's it's awesome. I think a lot of people are really enjoying and relating to what you're putting out there. So yeah, keep it keep doing it.
So day to day, have you sort of managed to juggle I guess, between trying to create what you want to do? Maybe if you have like a business you you're working with or whatever you're doing, how do you manage to do that with the children around as well?
Yeah, good question. I don't know if you're allowed to say this. But ever since separating and co parenting, I feel like, I've been able to do a lot more. And that's because I have a amicable, amicable relationship with my ex partner, and we should split the time and the kids 5050. So being able to have my own time, which I don't think I had in my previous relationship, as much like I really didn't, I felt like I was the primary care of the kids. But ever since having my own time, I've feel like I've been able to manage, work and be able to do things like work on my own creative projects a lot more. And it's funny, because when I do have the kids, it's like, it's everything's a massive juggle, you know, obviously, with co curricular stuff as well as parenting and still having to do bits and pieces of work, I find I don't work a normal nine to five job, I'll find myself you know, what, people would think I'm just looking at Instagram something but I'm not I'm usually working at nighttime at, you know, eight o'clock, editing a video, for instance, on my phone, or I work in, in between hours when I perhaps don't have the kids or other things like that. So, yeah, it's it's, it's I don't know how a lot of people who have their kids full time as well as work full time, it's really, really tough to find your own time. But yeah, I guess that's one of the silver linings are separating, not saying that you should go and do it, saying that, like me and my work like it has been able, I have been able to just have more time for myself on my projects, which is, which is great. But at the same time, you're dealing with a whole lot of other emotions. But, um, I guess people don't really talk about the positive sides of separating, but that's kind of why I was saying, Oh, I'm not allowed to say this. But I guess when you do work for yourself, you take what you can in terms of when you've got time.
Yeah, for sure. In whatever way that might present itself. Yes, thank you grateful for Yeah. So when you first had your children, when you first had Harlow How did the way that you view yourself changed like this identity? A lot of moms talk about having, you know, like they were themselves and now they only exist for their child and they feel like they lose themselves or that kind of stuff. Did you sort of have experiences like that?
I feel like most people go through an identity crisis when you become a mom because you sort of mourn the loss of your former self, which was someone that for me, it was someone that was pretty independent could do we wanted all of that stuff that everyone knows what it's like and you don't have kids. And I think yeah, there's definitely, especially that first year. There's, you just don't know what you're doing. It's kind of like when you start a podcast. You just try and do what you think is right. That's it. And I had an amazing I lived out in the country when I had Harlow and I lived abandoned towards Yarra Valley in the Nillumbik hills and on a 20 acre Bush block with no neighbors in sight and in a hut that honestly was like an old miner's cottage with a dirt floor. I'm not even kidding, like, dead for wattle and daub. It was a beautiful home. I loved it, but it was very different to a normal suburban house, which is where I am now and it was and it was bushy and there's snakes and there was like, my whole environment was so different to a normal I guess like just a normal person. I found this amazing can be Yeah, they're through mother's group of other women that were kind of, we call ourselves like pining women because we were out out on the farm you know, I had to light the fires just to keep warm all of those things that now I just turned the heater on. But I like your life was so different. And I I was, I had already lived out there for a while. So I was used to not being around a lot of people. And not being able to say for instance, just go into the city and stuff like that. But yeah, life was really different. And I felt like I love those years, though, like I look back now. And I'm like, they were really beautiful and really special. I had an amazing group of women that I'm still friends with. I love going out that way because it's really relaxing and quiet. But yeah, my identity, I felt like completely changed. But I feel like I've had multiple identity shapes since then. I think I reclaimed myself. Again. I've never been the type of mom that only lives vicariously through children and children's activities. Although I feel like when Harlow was really young, I was more like that. Now, obviously, life so different, like I have my kids 50% of the time, which is still hard to say. And like I've, I go and do adult things like and like my former self, like, I've got nights of the week where I'm able to go out for dinner if I want to or you know, I've got a boyfriend, which is really like different. And so like, it's really, I'm still a mum, though, and I'm still in my children's life as much as I was before, I'm probably a better mum for it. Because when I do have the kids like, we always make the most of that time. And I've thankfully I still see the kids often when you know it's Christmas night or something like that as well. So we actually see each other quite a lot. But yeah, like identity is a funny one and you lose it for a while. But I also think that you get it back
the other thing I like to really talk to mums about is the concept of mum guilt. And I sometimes put that in the air quotes. Is that something that you've sort of experienced or you have thoughts about in relation to your creativity in your work?
Yeah, I think there's definitely mom guilt in all, in everyday life. Especially when the kids a little and you know, you want to be there with your kids all the time. Like I remember dropping off Harlow to daycare when I was doing that job I was talking about earlier going and chopping veggies and making these organic meals for people. I felt so bad about doing that. Like, I like when I got there. You know, I felt good, I was able to just go into a job that I didn't really have to think about too much. And it made me feel good. But God I felt bad about just dropping off at daycare and picking her up late, early, late. And I feel like Yeah, it's like, do we carry this guilt? Like, why do we carry this guilt? I don't know if fathers are carrying as much guilt. I don't know. I don't know. I don't like Yeah, it's hard. But I feel like I do I have less guilt now. I would say so. I think I've, I've think I've tried to accept that, you know, things are as they are. I'm still my own person. My kids are their person. We're all just trying to do our best. But yeah, there's still guilt around, I think during the pandemic as well. Like, we had to stop doing the things that we were doing. No, you had no control over that. Like for instance, like co curricular activities and things like that. So maybe I lost a little bit of the guilt around doing so much with the kids. Yeah, yeah, like during the pandemic. Now, I've you know, I I guess I want them to experience lots of different things and find their things that they like to do but yeah, probably not putting as much pressure on myself.
Yeah, for sure. So with your creativity and being out there and doing doing what you do, is it important for you that your children say, and I don't want to say not just a mom, because we're never just remember that you've actually got your own life, you're doing things you're contributing to the world, you've got an important place.
I always think that a lot, actually, because my kids say, Me, I bought my own house late last year, I do try to do everything around the house, although don't look at my loans at the moment. But they see me as someone that works for themselves that, you know, does everything for themselves, takes them to the things they want to do. And I think they might not realize that now. But I feel like especially Harlow being female, when she gets older, is like, well, I can I can do that as well. And I think I think people often as well, maybe stay in a relationship for the kids. And I think that's kind of I find that to be problematic for some people for some things and because are they saying really happy version of their parents in some situations? But my kids are seeing Yeah, definitely a times at times, it's stressful, and you've got to do you know, all the nighttime routines yourself. And that can be hard. But they're also saying someone that is really happy, and is trying to give them the best life and for themselves as well. And also they say me as an independent person from them. And I think that's important.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I love that answer. I'm gonna put a big tick next to that. I like that That's good. night you said before you've got some projects in the pipeline, is there anything? I don't want you to feel like you have to tell things that you you know, you're not ready to? Have you got some some stuff coming up in the future that you can share with a severe?
Yeah. Well, as I was saying, before I get excited about things. And then I try not to. Sometimes I don't have it. There is a project hopefully, I'm sure. Yes. I'm gonna say yes, it will go ahead. But yeah, it hasn't been completely psyched up. Yeah, a television program that we're working on with my manager and the team that my manager works with. So that will hopefully be later on the year on channel 10, which is great. My podcast, which is falling for you. And it's an interview based series interviewing was just women. But now it's everyone about people's lives and becoming more comfortable in your own skin. And that's really exciting. I love that. And I started another podcast with my friend last year, may or may not do that. We're not sure yet. But I love podcasting. I think like once you've got a microphone and you set up like I do, like you can well droid stuff. So I probably would love to do more in audio and potentially like a Yeah, either podcasting or something like radio or something like that. That would be amazing. Now the retreat that is also brewing for later on in the year. I usually take only one retreat a year, and it's usually is always actually in an amazing location in a beautiful accommodation. And it's kind of like a great mix between adventure, wellness, amazing food, and just like a really fun time. It's not too hard core health or anything like that. We still do Santa cocktails, you know, it's got to be balanced. There's got to be a balance. And yeah, I feel like this year I've approached it a little bit differently rather than putting too much pressure on myself with goals because we've all been in survival mode for so long. I'm sort of saying what happens and unfolds around me rather than she's stuff too much. But already this is becoming Yeah, it's it's been a year, I think the last month or so a really big one. I think that's what happens when school goes back all of a sudden, easy again. Yeah. But yeah, there's always there's always exciting projects on the horizon. And yeah, we'll just see what happens, but ya never know.
Yeah. Well, that's the thing, isn't it? It's like you don't seem to, you're very sort of open to any sort of possibility. It's like you don't shut yourself off from things. So. Yeah, that's a really great way to live your life.
Yeah, I think it's funny reading that productivity book because it's like, rather than trying to over schedule yourself, it's like trying to be more open and flexible. And I think that's what how I approach my days. It's like, I don't know sometimes what's going to happen, which is what I like about my life. On a day to day basis, though, I don't have it planned out to a tee I've got, you know, I kind of like to see what happens and what comes up and what I end up doing. And I like that approach. But yeah, it's certainly not everyone's approach.
It's probably a few people out there that are getting feeling really uncomfortable listening to that. Checklist and Midori? Yeah, no, but whatever works works. It's the truth isn't everyone's different. And we just do what works.
Yeah, that's right yeah.
It was important to you that you got back to doing things for yourself. Like you said, when how I was? I think she was she fought high. How old? Was she when you started doing the chopping up? So no,
she was she was actually quite young, she would have been about 10 months or
10 months a year. So was that was that because you want to? You needed? Like you said before you needed something for yourself. It was like, that was really important for you to get back out and be Danny again, I suppose.
Yeah, I think I definitely I think I do not want to do something that actually involved that much thinking, if that makes sense. Because you're so tired. And I think when you first have a new baby, it's like I was anyway, I was exhausted. And I didn't want to do too much like I just wanted to be told what to do. Which is quite, that's not usually what my jobs are. I have obviously a lot more creative than that. But I at this for this job, I just wanted to get out of the house. And I wanted to talk to adults again. And got beat just go somewhere and do something for the day that didn't really involve too much thinking. Like it wasn't overly stressful. It was it was very sort of a monotonous job where I went and we prepped a whole lot of food. But I was still having these really engaging conversations. Because the women that I worked with in the kitchen were all and still are some of my most favorite people. And we keep in contact and it was just like, it was not glamorous at all. We were in this weird, like factory and spring Vale or something I don't know, it was a bizarre place. It was nowhere near my house. I had to leave my kid at daycare for too long, but I wanted to the pay probably wasn't great. But it was more for me as well, to know that you know that you can still be your own person and you can still go and do something that makes you feel good about yourself that you're being productive. And I was learning I learned quite a lot about Whole Foods then as well. That was when I was really interested in that. And that so he kind of set me up for other things. I then started a blog about Whole Foods after that because that's when we used to do blogs. And I started writing recipes for Whole Foods and then all of a sudden I started working with Melrose health which I still work with today who you know, I've been working with Microsoft, Melrose health I then went on to launch you know, that brand in Japan and I cooked dinner in China and I like we did all these amazing things. And that just started because I went and worked at a factory in Springvale, because I was interested in Whole Foods, like any job or any anything that you want to do for yourself is going to be bad. And you just don't know what's going to happen from it. And you never, never think you're too good for something as well. Like, I'm always like, you know, these jobs that are, you know, not glamorous as such. Like, they're actually also and you meet amazing people. And I find, I think it was a really formative part of my life, just being able to go, yeah, it's okay. I can go to daycare, I can do this job. And if you know, your partner or someone turns around and goes, Well, why would you do that for it's going to cost more to do daycare, tell them to get by? Because I hate also that that's that, that thinking around daycare fees being only for women to pay? Like what? No, no, it's just all right. Yeah. All right, back yourself and do if you feel like you really need to do something for yourself, go and do it and do what you can to get the support around you. And if and tried to let go of that guilt.
Hmm. Yeah. Well said. That's a fantastic note to end on. Danny, thank you so much. Okay. It's such all talking to you. You.
It's so nice. It's actually nice to Yeah, as we were saying before this interview started to not be in the driver's seat and just overshare which is what I'm really good at. Yeah, do jump over to Instagram, if you do want to follow me because at Danny, Ben, I do love to connect with people. I'm always DME We're always having like these little DM chats. And you know, I've got a great, I think it's like great community of, of women, mainly that sort of that follow me and I love creating content that makes people laugh and helps people in some small ways.
Yeah. And it's very relatable to like, it's, I don't know, it's like, people might put people on pedestals and think that people are not real. You know what I mean? Like, you're, you're a mum, and you've got two kids, and you've got to cook for every night. You know, it's like, it's the realities that we're all going through, like opening that fridge and going, Ah, what's the mystery rocks, gonna return that sort of thing. Thanks for sharing what you share in such an honest way. It's really valuable.
Thank you. Yeah, I do have this little thing on my coffee machine. And I read it like every day, and it's, I'm doing the best I can. And I feel like that's all we can do. And we can just try. And some days, we might not feel very good, but we're all just trying to get along and doing doing what we can. We are all just humans at the end. So
absolutely, now Thank you. Thanks for your company today. If you've enjoyed this episode, I'd love you to consider leaving us a review, following or subscribing to the podcast, or even sharing it with a friend who you think might be interested. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the podcast. Please get in touch with us by the link in the show notes. I'll catch you again next week for another chat with an artistic mom