Me & food

Today I am a realfoodist with a passion for the freshest, most locally grown biodynamic and organic produce. I cook respecting the traditions that help to maximise nutrient values and digestibility of the dishes made. Lacto-fermentation is an art I adore, practice and love to teach. I believe that cooking is an alchemic art form, not an exact science.

I run wholefood cooking classes that educate and inspire people to eat in accordance with their needs and the seasons.

Currently my work centers around teaching omnivorous wholefood cooking classes that re designed to educate and inspire people to eat in accordance with their particular needs and the season. These classes are informed by my understanding of macrobiotics and they are based on the traditions and principles of societies diets prior to industrialization. I am also a caterer and work as a food coach; with individuals looking to make dietary changes. Whenever I am presenting, teaching, catering or working as a private chef  I am always an impassioned speaker on the benefits of whole food and organic and biodynamic farming practises.

I was born in Britain, to the smell of bacon and eggs! My interest in food began there. My parents were both food lovers; my Dad had been a chef before he became a lawyer and in my late teens my mother ran a catering business. They were both inspiring cooks with a passion for fresh produce. We grew our own fruits and vegetables and tending to the garden was part of our yearly rhythm. Dad should have been a butcher, they were his favorite shops and we would buy half a lamb or pig and I would watch him carve it up on our kitchen table, I found it gruesome but compelling.

I moved to Australia in 1982. On my way here I spent a year in Japan where I spent a little time studying at the school of macrobiotic philosophy and cooking. Macrobiotics caught my attention at the age of 14 and has been a major influence on my cooking style. I have always wanted to be different and this new way of looking at life was very different to the English system I had grown up in. What I love about macrobiotics (applied to food; as its actually a philosophy for understanding the order of the universe!) is that it looks at the energetic properties of food and what’s appropriate under different circumstances, it says there is a place for everything. A simple example is that a Traditional Inuit person may have eaten a diet that was mostly fat and meat with almost no vegetables, this suited the climate and was determined by what was available locally and seasonally and at the same time on a tropic island someone was eating a diet that was mostly root vegetables, coconuts and tropical fruits, this suited their climate and was determined by the same factors. We have mostly forgotten what’s local and seasonal though there is now a swing towards our remembering and I am right behind that.

I have always had a love of Asian art and artifacts and particularly the sensibility of the Japanese. I adore the way they handle and respect food, there is a reverence that I appreciate and wish to emulate in all the food I produce; be it for 1 or 100. I am certain that the level of respect and reverence we give the earth is proportionally returned to us in flavour, texture and nutrition of our food. This is why I am an advocate for Biodynamic farming practices and I give my support to biodynamic and organic farmers. Biodynamic farming practices seek to marry the forces of heaven and earth. It is my opinion that food grown this way has a vibrancy and flavour that nourishes body and soul while it also supports and heals our earth.

I am fascinated by Chinese medicine and five element theory which is the foundation of macrobiotics. I have found Chinese medicine incredibly effective and I have seen it make a huge difference when allopathic medicine had no answers. Im not anti allopathic medicine but I am for the least intervention possible and for using what the earth supplies in its most unadulterated state. Food has the ability to transform and transport us and as such, deserves our respect.

1984 I opened Manna in Rozelle, Sydney, this was my first wholefood restaurant. In 1985 I co founded “Iku Wholefood”, a unique food outlet advocating that the care and consideration put in during the creation of a meal is reflected absolutely in the customers’ satisfaction at the end. We wanted to show that simple unrefined food, lovingly handled could be beautiful, delicious and desirable. I want food to be ‘delicious’ before anything else but I also want that it will provide the highest level of nutrition possible.

Iku began as a single small eatery in Glebe and has since become a growing phenomenon, there are currently 14 stores with plans for more to open soon. I sold my share in 1997 to my business partner at that time Ken Israel. Ken continues to expand Iku

I then sat down to write the book I had been promising Iku customers for 12 years. Nourish was born out of this promise and my desire to produce a book that would make wholefood a sexy and desirable option. I was determined not to produce a ‘wholemeal’ looking book on recycled paper with line drawing. I have many of those books and some of them are amongst my most treasured cookbooks but I felt that food that nourished and nurtured us deserved to be in “Vogue” style.

I am delighted to have worked with photographer Geoff Lung and designer  Yolande Gray; due their incredible talents, 11 years on Nourish remains a contemporary book. Copies can be hard to find Amazon is a good starting point.

For bookings and enquiries call me on 0412 411 242 or email

7 Comments on “Me & food”

  1. Julia Wolfson says:

    Dearest holly, you are a total inspiration! I love your new look website.
    It is so rich and clear and full and joyous and wise and light and and really competent and …. you

  2. Hey Holly, as expected, a blog which nourishes mind, body and soul! Hope we can do some good cookery deeds together when the family and I move back to the beaches next year.

  3. Nicola says:

    Hi Holly

    Thanks for a wonderful course last Sunday. Enjoyed every moment and been feeding my babies ever since! A couple of questions if I may…

    My leaven appears to be doing fine and has made a very passable loaf of sesame spelt. Yay! Is it normal for the leaven to “split” sort of horizontally across in the jar? Does this mean anything? And If I want to build my supply up quickly after using, can I feed it more or more often than 50g in 24 hrs?

    I’d like to try the cultured fig and date spread next. Are the fruit measurements in the recipe chopped or whole? And after I put it in the fridge, how long til it’s ready?

    Many thanks 🙂 Nicola

  4. Anne Omori says:

    Hi, Holly,

    I just looked up the recipe of Whole Oat, Pumpkin and Adzuki Bean Casserole in Nourish, a good recipe for the cool winter we are having now in Honolulu! I soaked the beans last night, they now in the low cooker with kobu, etc. I love your book, it makes me feel good just to leaf through it. I tend to doctor the recipes a little based on my tastes and ingredients on hand. Love the food traditions and innovation you put together. Can’t wait to see your next book!


    • holly davis says:

      Hi Anne,
      Well how different life can be. As you seek internal warmth I sit here in northern NSW sweltering and dreaming of homemade raw cream and ginger ice cream!
      I am designing my next cooking classes and thinking of dishes to suit an Australian autumn.
      It is always great to hear that my recipes are enjoyed and it delights me to hear you adjust them to suit your need, ingredients and season. That dish is a long time favourite, soothing indeed. Next book progressing…slowly!
      Warmly, Holly

  5. helen robertson says:

    Hello Holly i live in northern NSW but at present i am living on King Island. I will be home after june and am wondering about your cooking classes on the north coast? I just bought a macrobiotic cook book and it feels like there is so much to learn….that i need a teacher …
    greeting from King Island the home of cheese and beef

  6. […] going to be ‘Capturing Cultures’ with Holly Davis, learning the art of fermenting my own vegetables at home. But, if sauerkraut and kimchi […]

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