Not Quite Nigella

4 December 2009

Written by: Lawrie Zion

“Bluff oysters au naturel, cream croquettes, Peking duck, honey king prawns, lobster, caviar, fresh Turkish bread, salmon tataki, spanish salami, sun dried tomatoes, roesti, okonomiyaki, fresh figs and dates, a fat, fluffy peshwari naan, wagyu beef and desserts.” It’s easy to tell from Lorraine Elliott’s ideal “last meal” menu that the home hybrid of chef, restaurateur and blogger has a taste for food that’s fancy. 

With some encouragement just over two years ago from her husband (lovingly dubbed on her blog as “Mr. NQN”), and her friend Queen Viv, Lorraine started her blog, Not Quite Nigella (NQN), about her “cooking, restaurant reviews, interviews with chefs, special food event coverage, eating tours and travelogues. Anything and everything to do with food and the people I meet in the pursuit of good food.” And it hasn’t stopped since.
Her blog’s name is a tribute to celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson. “For some reason I always knew that it would be called “Not Quite Nigella”. I adore Nigella Lawson but know I could never be quite like her!” And though she may think that she is no Nigella, NQN has come into its own success, with the website being ranked on Blog Ponds top 100 Australian blogs, reaching number 45 in 2009. Many of her impressive congregation of followers profess  their love for the recipes and food-following adventures, as well as the blogger herself.

As for the ever-modest NQN, she sees her food blogging as a “creative outlet”, describing food as “something people feel very passionately about … It’s something where people can connect and I suppose it’s that force that draws me and others to it.” Although her first love was shoes, “fashion & beauty products run a close second and third in my life. I suppose I love hats and Chanel nail polish but there’s not quite the same thrill as food.”

With the recent publicity food blogging  has been attracting, especially in light of the release of the film Julie and Julia, (based on a book about a woman’s recipe blogging escapade), it’s no wonder people are starting to jump on the bandwagon for food in the realms of cyberspace. Although the fusion between food, fine dining and technology has thrown a new light on the Australian food industry, writer and fellow food blogger Phil Lees warns that bloggers themselves are unconcerned with the way their posts impact on the food industry. Lees suggests that part of the issue is that “most food bloggers are not in the business of peddling influence. The very last concern of the average food blogger is how their work impacts the food industry.”

Despite this critique, Elliott remains upbeat about the individual contributions of bloggers. “Food blogging is very prolific and widespread and it’s an emerging field so of course you’ll get some that are less concerned but on the whole I think most food bloggers are starting to realise the impact of what we do.”

Throughout her blog’s short life, Elliott has experienced some dinning marvels; from her discovery of tiny, hole-in-the-wall (literally) café Nookie in Sydney’s Surry Hills to her various attempts to cook a meal on the engine of her Toyota Prius. But she describes her best dining experience by far as ‘The Iron Chef dinner’ an event held at the Observatory Hotel in 2007 describing the event as “my Olympics. I’ve trained for it, prepared for it and dreamt about it”. “It was $500 a person but I was lucky enough to win 2 tickets. There was so much effort put into the night by everyone and it showed as it was pure entertainment and wonderful food”.

Although she is quite the food fan herself, Elliott admits to being shy chef outside her circle of intrepid dining companions. “Oh no! I would never want to cook for a chef or anyone in the restaurant industry. What if they hated my food? I’d be scarred for life.” But if she had to cook for someone? “Maybe someone who just loves food. One of my readers perhaps.”

Not Quite Nigella encapsulates Lorraine’s passion for all things food. And when it comes down to it what does she really love about cooking? “Its bribery really isn’t it. People love you if you cook for them don’t they?”

Experience all things Not Quite Nigella at

Penny Evangelou is a Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. This is her first piece for upstart.