COMPETITION ENDING SOON, read enclosed for your chance to WIN a gorgeous Alyce Alexandra cookbook.
Tell us about you?
I’m Alyce Babauskis, also known as “alyce alexandra”, Thermomix cookbook author and publisher. 26 years old, from Melbourne, Australia.
How did Alyce Alexandra come about?
I always loved cooking, and had a Thermomix at home from the age of about 15, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would become my career. My whole life I always wanted to be a lawyer – I loved notions of justice and fairness and I loved fighting for the underdog. Once I had finished high school I went straight to the University of Melbourne and did a double degree in Law and Commerce.
Meanwhile, at home I was cooking up a storm in my Thermomix yet was frustrated by the lack of inspiring Thermomix recipe books available. I yearned for a big hardcover cookbook filled with Donna Hay-style photos and quick and easy recipes. I began writing my own recipes out of sheer necessity, and soon it dawned on me that I probably wasn’t the only Thermomix owner disenchanted by the available recipes. My younger sister Loryn, then 16, was doing photography and graphic design at school so I asked her if I wrote a cookbook would she put it together and take the photos. With blind optimism and with no appreciation of the mammoth task ahead, we set about publishing our own Thermomix cookbook.
We would schedule ‘photo shoots’ on weekends in our dad’s backyard and invite friends over as our taste testers. We were absolutely terrible at the start – my cooking was horrible and Loryn’s photos weren’t much better! But persistence pays, and we slowly began to get the hang of it. We also had a wonderful mentor in our mother who is an excellent cook and spent tireless hours assisting the project.
All in all it took 3 years to put together, but by mid 2011 it was completed – 103 recipes, 220 pages. We then had to get it printed, and decided 2,000 was the number. If we sold all 2,000, we would be laughing, and if not, we’d have Christmas presents to gift for the rest of our lives. Loryn set up a website with an online store and we began selling! Within 4 months we had nearly sold all 2,000 and were needing to do a second print run – we couldn’t believe it. The orders were coming in faster than we were shipping them out of mum’s lounge room. Soon customers were asking if we would be bringing out a second book – how could we say no!? So without any definitive plan or any spoken words the cookbook business became our full-time job, and in turn our life.
We worked incredibly hard and brought out 3 cookbooks in 3 years. We’ve sold nearly 30,000 cookbooks, as well as having just opened our own cooking school and retail store in City Road, South Melbourne. We now have a team of 12 people, of which Loryn is the second youngest. It certainly wasn’t the journey I
saw myself on 6 years ago, but I couldn’t be happier in my job and couldn’t be prouder of what Loryn and I have achieved together with the support of our amazing family.
What is the best thing you have done?
The best and most interesting thing I have done is publish a cookbook at 22! I think the most common response I get when meeting customers for the first time is “you’re so much younger than I expected!”
With our cooking school opening in September 2014 we’ve been really busy developing new classes and thinking outside the box as to uses for our space. We’ve got lots of books due for release in 2015 which is very exciting. So for now, we keep doing what we do best!
With so many to choose from, do you have a favourite recipe?
My favourite recipe… is a very hard question as I have 3 books full of them! I hate waste so anything to use up fruits and vegetables left in the fridge. I make a green smoothie every morning with leftover greens, frozen fruit, coconut milk / almond milk / yoghurt, and whatever superfoods take my fancy. Because the Thermomix is so powerful I often mill up almonds and chia seeds before adding the rest of the ingredients for extra nourishment. I also have a real fondness for slow cooked meat – I love using secondary cuts of the animal in an effort to waste nothing. Given secondary cuts are cheaper, it also makes it easier to purchase organic (or at least grass-fed). My favourite slow cooked recipe is my rich and
smokey slow cooked beef brisket. I use the Thermomix to make up the sauce, but you could easily do it with a food processor or blender.