It would not be exaggerative to say that Nagi Maehashi, better known as RecipeTin Eats, is the queen of the food blog. Her recipes have transcended her hometown of Sydney to garner worldwide acclaim — and for good reason — there’s just something so remarkable about her and the meals she shares with everyone.
In 2019, the Daily Mail wrote the headline “Dreaming of leaving the corporate grind? Woman trades lucrative job in finance to become one of Australia’s most popular food bloggers,” about Maehashi. It’s the typically overly-sensational headline you’d expect from the publication, but it’s not wrong.
Maehashi was a corporate finance girl who switched careers on a whim and launched what is now one of the most popular recipe sites in the world, reaching more than 15 million people every week. The site launched in 2014, and every year a new batch of people discover the unabashed joy of RecipeTin Eats.
Her cookbook Dinner, which launched this year, was the highest-selling debut ever from an Aussie author and the fastest-selling Aussie cookbook ever. That, my friends, is what you call killing the game.
I had a delightful chat with Maehashi about her newfound success in the physical world, after so many years of reigning over our stomachs via her online website.
“I’m so immersed in the digital world that for me, understanding how something’s performing in the physical world… I haven’t quite absorbed it,” Maehashi said to PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“I’m so thrilled that it’s doing well because I don’t want to let anyone down.”
I first discovered RecipeTin Eats after I moved out of home and began learning how to cook.
For me, moving out was a necessity. Being a young gay person in a homophobic household wasn’t doing any favours for my mental health, so I set out to live my life on my own terms.
Learning to cook wasn’t just something I had to do for my own well-being, but it was an important step in separating myself from the lifelong influence of my mother. It sounds deep, I know, but becoming confident in my own culinary creations really strengthened the idea that I didn’t need my parents for anything anymore — not money, not approval and not food.
RecipeTin Eats was the one website that would always pop up whenever I googled how to make a new dish. Beyond it being an incredibly easy-to-follow website, Maehashi’s voice would pull me back each and every time. There was something so encouraging about her writing style, and something so simple about the site’s layout, that it became the only recipe website I used. Every dish would come out immaculate. For the first time in my life, I was a chef, and it was all thanks to her.
Naturally, I told Maehashi this in our conversation and expressed to her how authentic and friendly she came across in her work. I asked how important it was for her to include this endearing tone and charm in her recipes, which is clearly winning over so many people across the country by creating a sense of familiarity.
“I really love that we’re talking about this because nobody has raised it before,” said Maehashi.
“It’s really interesting that you say that because it’s something that’s really important to me.
“I look at the vast majority of food bloggers or people like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay, and they have writers on their team — their voice isn’t actually theirs, they aren’t writing the commentary on the recipes — whereas I’m the one who writes everything on my website.”
Maehashi said she’s often thought about hiring a ghostwriter to reduce her workload (which includes food photography, recipe ideation, writing and creating videos), but the loss of her authenticity is something she never wants to see.
“I’d hate for someone to pretend to be me,” she said.
“If a recipe has my name plastered all over it and it’s on my website I want it to genuinely be my words.
“When you talk about how you hear my voice, I love that, because it’s the part I struggle with the most.”
One of Maehashi’s mantras is that she never wants to sacrifice flavour for convenience.
Despite her recipes being so easy to follow, they’ll never result in something that’s bland or missing a few key steps to cross the finish line early. Trust me, I would know — I’m a smooth brain in the kitchen and I’m in there whipping out lasagnes that would send my nonna into a second cardiac arrest.
“These days a lot of people are looking for tray bakes and one-pot recipes and I see so many of them on social media and just think… oh my God that’s so gross,” she laughed.
“There are so many convenient recipes out there but a lot of them aren’t any good — can you believe people cook with canned soup?
“They’ll literally dump a can of mushroom soup into a casserole pan, dump the chicken in there and dump cheese on top and call it dinner. So gross!”
Unfortunately, I know all too well what she’s talking about. Platforms like TikTok are littered with the most ridiculous “easy-to-follow” recipes you’ve ever seen.
At the end of the day, what matters most to Maehashi is that there are people out there making her food and bloody loving it. As one of those people, I can’t thank her enough for all those nights of delicious eats. My boyfriend is definitely benefitting too.
“I love hearing about what people are making and how excited they get after making something they never thought they’d be able to make or dinner parties they hosted using my recipes,” she said.
“I get so excited for people, I spend way too much time interacting with readers and looking at photos they’ve sent me — I just get drawn into it. That’s the most rewarding part of what I do.”
Now that Dinner is here, we can all have a piece of that RecipeTin Eats magic in our homes. Hell, my boyfriend even bought me a dedicated bookstand just so I can leave mine open and upright in the kitchen at all times.
Thanks to the hard work, dedication and joy that Maehashi brings to her craft, so many people like me can become confident in their own ability to provide for themselves — and that’s something money can never truly buy.