In the kitchen with Kitty Williams

A sandwich business, a food truck, a stint in catering, Kitty Williams knew she was destined to work with food. She just hadn’t quite figured out what that would look like. Metropol Deputy Editor Nina Tucker catches up with her after the launch of her first cookbook about how things have changed since her viral ‘lockdown scrolls.’

Those things didn’t give me enough creative freedom,” Kitty explains, on the many realms of cooking she’s dabbled in. So, she turned to Instagram to create a cooking page and see where it went. She says that when she made that switch, “everything clicked.” “I could work off cravings and use whatever naughty ingredients I wanted.”

In a nutshell, that’s the basis of every delicious recipe in her book Just a Little Bit Naughty. Pages of meals that are “unapologetically delicious, easy, and comforting.” “I guess that’s what people needed during the 2021 lockdown, because my sweet chilli, ham, and cream cheese scrolls went viral. That’s when my life changed,” she explains. While her page was slowly growing, the jump that would come next was indescribable. Unexpected yet predestined, Kitty remembers the ‘pinch me’ feeling.

“I was gaining thousands and thousands of followers within days. I couldn’t believe that so many people around New Zealand were recreating my recipe.” Going viral on Instagram generated so much work in an aspect of cooking that finally felt right. “I feel very on track with what I enjoy doing,” she says, and now savours the ‘dream’ life, minus the fact that recipes often come to her at night. Kitty will sit in bed and type ideas into her laptop, setting aside the next day to bring them to life and recipe test. Aside from that, her days are spent largely in the supermarket and the kitchen, pulling together recipes and content for her social media pages.

Many recipe opportunities arise from using a brand product or food, Kitty’s work and creative cooking mind are used to promote advertising. The proof is in the pudding, because just watching one of Kitty’s videos will entice that product to be added to the shopping cart. No stranger to a range of cuisines, some of Kitty’s recent creations shared on social media include dumplings, vegetable pappardelle, bagels, chocolate oat peanut butter cups, and many more adaptations to the classic scroll.

The hecticness of being a rising cook does subside at times though, letting Kitty sit back and enjoy the life she’s created. Heading to workout classes, walking her pugs, which can be found featured in the pages of her book, and spending time with friends and family.

Creating and publishing a cookbook sat up there in her wildest dreams, but one recipe, for scrolls no less, was the catalyst to make it happen. Kitty was approached by publishers, and it was full steam ahead from there. The inspiration came from far and wide, quite literally. Social media, cafés, restaurants, and many places internationally travelled where the culinary creations wowed her.

Naturally, there were challenges along the way. Kitty faced lost confidence from her endeavours over the years, between struggling to get her businesses running, or feeling they weren’t the right fit once they were. Then came the precise qualities of baking recipes that never aligned with Kitty’s bake-from-the-heart approach. Yet, she endeavoured to become confident in baking and practised until she reached that level, so it became easy to include sweet treats in her cookbook.

Think friends, family, and a few margaritas, and you’ll picture the launch of Kitty’s book. “It was the perfect night,” she remembers. Pulling together a cookbook after a whirlwind claim to fame might scare some, but Kitty “just had fun with it.” She adds that opting for an approach to enjoy the experience made it one of such high spirits. It was an outcome meant to be, as Kitty now finds her book of fool-proof recipes appealing to all ages.

Kitty adds that having conquered the print world with her new cookbook, she’s looking ahead to creating a cooking show in the future.

Kitty’s proudest moments

  • A radio interview with Jesse Mulligan following the viral lockdown scrolls.
  • Seeing Just a Little Bit Naughty in store for the first time.
  • Being interviewed by then Prime Minister Chris Hipkins about cooking on The Project.

Main image: Chris Sharpe


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