Meet the gorgeous Tina Brand, her warmth and hospitality obvious the minute I walk into her sun-drenched living room, the smell of freshly baked biscotti still lingering. We talked about her peripatetic, culturally rich life shared with husband Michael and her girls …. the blog, she started, izzyhaveyoueaten.com, love of food and Chefs.
My parents were from South India. Dad grew up in Burma, and after they married, my parents moved to Borneo to join the British civil service. For them it was a tropical paradise and they never returned to India. It was a wonderful childhood for me. I have lived in many places and Borneo still remains extraordinary … such a happy time… it was truly special.
LG: What was your work and interests?
TB: My training is in communications; I worked in PR, marketing and event-planning, but I wrote pieces for magazines and papers as well. Much of my time living overseas was spent in partnership with Michael to fundraise for museum projects. That involved lots of entertaining. I took it seriously and felt quite passionate about being on the team. I also wrote a regular food segment for Virginia Living magazine when we lived on the east coast. My interests are in gardens, art, architecture and design, our dog Frankie, and always a good book, podcast or playlist.
LG: Did you know you were going to be travelling a lot?
TB: I guess I had an idea when I married Michael because his family were enthusiastic adventurers. We met while he was traveling, in fact! We went from our wedding directly to live in Lahore for a while, where Michael was working on a project for the Smithsonian Institution. Living back in Canberra, we would sometimes have idle thoughts of : are we going to stay here or have some adventures elsewhere, what both our parents did? It must be something in our DNA.
LG: So how did the blog … izzyhaveyoueaten.com … come about?
TB: The blog came about when Michael accepted a job in Toronto. Isabel had finished high school and was preparing to head to Melbourne Uni. It was a big split for our family living in Los Angeles at the time. Our daughters were leaving a city and friends they loved, and going in opposite directions : they were only 18 and 15. When Isabel came to visit us in Toronto on her semester break, we talked about how we could share recipes efficiently. She came up with the idea of a blog, the added bonus being that anyone who was interested could access it.
Toronto was isolating. I felt I’d moved to the ends of the earth when we got there. So I threw myself into this blog which was a bit of a newsy update on what we were up to in the tundra, finishing off each post with a recipe.
The blog petered out when we moved back to Australia. The girls were both happily close at hand again. But when the Covid19 lockdowns started, I thought about Izzyhaveyoueaten again because it reminded me of my own previous time of isolation in Toronto. A few friends have always pestered me about continuing it. My family encouraged me to start it up again … probably to keep me out of their hair! (laughs)
So, here it is again! Isabel works in advertising and Claudia is a digital media artist: our close connection means we are genuinely interested in each other’s projects, and they have both been enthusiastic and so encouraging about the re-boot of this blog.
Claudia has updated the format of the blog and Isabel remains a sounding board. Both girls test my recipes and provide suggestions and feedback. Michael is a willing and taste tester. How could I not do it? The updated blog has new sections to it too.
The section of the blog called Three Questions is focused during this pandemic on people involved in the food industry.
With the Three Questions idea, I wanted to put people in the food industry front and centre; I want to try and get readers away from cooking at home exclusively and to ordering meals from favourite local restaurants..Surely it all helps.
These past weeks of isolation have encouraged us to think outside the box, to be more creative about how we spend our time, and to be more mindful. It has made me aware of those who are more compromised by isolation than me, and I try to connect with a wide range of people each day. I hope my blog helps make some connections too.
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