Month: October 2016

The Woman : A life rich in travel, experience and the most exquisitely plated dishes imaginable



Shantala, a name that suggests a woman of free spirit. Someone warm, with a soft nature and a beautiful contagious smile. Someone outgoing and confident but humble and intriguing. A name that couldn’t be more suited to my friend Shala. We’ve been friends many years, but I rarely see her as she’s spent the last few years sailing on a super yacht to beautiful places around the world, creating world class dishes for their owners and guests. Dishes that in my opinion outshine those featured on the covers of top Gastronomy Magazines, yet only experienced in the dining rooms of her yachts and seen in the pages of her blog Steps in Thyme.

This is a story that has seen Shala find her happiness, her direction and her passion simply by saying yes to an unexpected vacancy, completely outside of her comfort zone. A simple yes to a somewhat unknown opportunity that bumped her into creating, building and crafting herself the most intriguing, culturally rich lifestyle imaginable.

This is Shantala, and this is her delicious story …

I call home:

NZ is home for sure. I have a Swedish father, an Irish mother and my first language is French so my roots are very much European, but I’m a kiwi kid at heart. I was bought up on Waiheke Island, and though I’ve travelled to some breathtaking places with my job there’s really no place in the world that gives me that same high like coming home.


I am single. It’s hard to hold down a relationship doing what I do, but it also leaves a lot of space to work on the creative aspects of my life.

Working as:

I’m a chef. A career I don’t think I would have chosen intentionally, but somehow (thankfully) it found me! I starting out my yachting career as a stewardess, a job that didn’t exactly thrill me but it was my ticket into a life on the ocean, of free travel and adventure. I would have taken any job if it meant it gave me a place on a boat.


One day the chef on my boat was sick so I offered to help make light meals for the guests. I’ve always loved cooking, though I never thought I would do it professionally. My captain planted the seed that I should look into becoming a second or crew chef. I wasn’t convinced that I was capable but within days a trainee chef role came up on a friends boat, I applied, got the job and that was really how it all started!

That was five years ago, since then I’ve slowly worked my way up into a sole chef position on a sailing yacht.



What do you love most about your career?

No day is the same and nothing is mundane. Working on yachts means we are always entering new harbours – that means new and interesting produce/ ingredients to work with. I get so excited when I find something new with a flavour I haven’t used before.

And of course the travel is a bit of a perk to the job too. I’ve been on my recent boat for three years. In that time we’ve crossed the Atlantic twice, travelled from the States, to central America, Galapagos Islands, Norway, Holland, the Mediterranean, Croatia, all through the Caribbean and most recently back to the States.


How do you keep your food style fresh in an ever growing and expanding industry?

I’m constantly inspired by other chefs for ways to progress creatively. If I have a quiet day, I always fill the gaps by recipe testing and coming up with inventive ways to highlight an ingredient.



Over the last year I’ve been staging in a few restaurants to try and gain new skills and techniques that I might not otherwise learn working on my own. Earlier this year I staged at Orphans Kitchen in Ponsonby. I’d say this has been one of the most inspiring times in my career to date. They have a great harmony there. I was so impressed. Not just in the quality and innovation of the food coming out of the kitchen but in the way that the kitchen itself was run. There’s such a sense of respect between kitchen and floor staff alike – And they have fun, they love what they do and that shines through what they create.

What have you accomplished in your 30’s that you’re most proud of?

I bought my little home on Waiheke Island just over a year ago. If you’d told my 28 year old self I’d be a homeowner in a few years, I would have laughed! Impossible – I was too busy boosting down every obtainable ski slope and wasting each paycheck on new gear and bar tabs.

Once I hit 30 though I made that decision in my mind, I wrote it down on a piece of paper and stuck it on my wall so that every day I was reminded of what I wanted to achieve and when – it was just a matter of illuminating the path that lead to it and saying no to life’s temptations in order to obtain it!

I’m an avid goal writer – I’ve discovered the incredible pleasure of attaining your dreams simply by writing and believing. Buying a house could be classed as a pretty materialistic goal to some, but it’s something I’ve always dreamed of. Having a space that is my own, where I feel free! It’s more than the dollar value or the investment – It’s a childhood fantasy of a place called home.


What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced in your thirties and how has this affected you? 

I kicked off my thirties with some really challenging personal hurdles. Life is damn unpredictable at times, but learning to deal with a painful situation in a positive light has been a rewarding challenge.

I’ve now moved into a peaceful place in my life and it’s what I learnt through those difficult times that have helped me reach this place of calm.

I live a life rich in travel, experience and meaningful relationships. There’s so much to be grateful for. Hardships and life’s trials are part of the experience of course but finding positive lessons in those situations only strengthens who we become and how peacefully we deal with future challenges.

This I try to apply in my personal life as well as in the kitchen/galley. It’s a constant classroom out there in all aspects of life.

I have never seen you without a smile firmly planted on your face, your happiness is infectious and that’s what I love about you. What keeps that smile so beautiful?

Haha smiling comes easy when you’re surrounded by people who bring out the best in you, but I guess it’s more than that. I put the work in – my own personal development is something that I practice daily. As I get older I’m learning to be lighter, gentler, and less judgmental of myself as well as those around me. When you let the little ‘shit’ go, have a bit of compassion and recognise that everyone has their own struggles, life is as peaceful as you’re willing to make it. And it’s a whole lot more enjoyable too.

Finding your calm and donning a cracker smile goes a long way – not only for yourself but those you share your world with.


What’s in the future?
Since discovering my love of cuisine and finding my groove in life, I’ve been working really hard at learning as much as I can about food culture around the world. About sustainable food practices, seasonal ingredients and interesting flavour combinations, as well as fine tuning my own personal cooking style so I can turn all this ‘culinary energy’ in the direction of home and open something in New Zealand.

There’s much more exciting stuff to come in my 30s but for now I’m cultivating all I can abroad to one day open a ‘home’ like my own to share with NZ.


I absolutely love getting lost amongst the pages of Shalas beautful blog. I am just so dam proud of this girl and when I look at some of the beautiful dishes she creates and the way she so elegantly plates them, I am literally covered in goosebumps of love and admiration.

To follow the adventures of NZs next ‘Michelin Star Chef in the making’ or if you need a top up of creative inspiration follow her here:

Steps in Thyme on Instagram

30vs30 is a place to celebrate and embrace all the unique lifestyles lived by woman in their thirties. Your thirties doesn’t necessarily mean marriage, babies and kids. It’s now ten years of your life to craft out lifestyle that works for you, that inspires you to be true to yourself and what makes you genuinely happy and content, not what society expects out of you. If that means preparing luscious meals abroad a sailing yacht in the Mediterranean or living in a villa in Bali in between jobs in TV production, then I think thats fricken awesome and a story well worth a share.




This is how you do Singapore …

Traveling in my twenties was all about full moon parties, drinking out of buckets and covering my body with florescent paint. Traveling in a relationship was driving right through the beautiful city of Barcelona so the guys could get to the smallest isolated beach to surf, yip, sacrifice. Now you can find me lost in the streets, the culture and the heart of a city with the freedom to explore as I wish, I am addicted.

So here are my travels, through my single, thirty something eyes.


This is how you do Singapore…

Its hard to know exactly where to go and everyone can agree, a city can offer so much more through the eyes of a local. I’m so lucky to have my mum live in Singapore. She absolutely loves showing her friends around when they visit and she has really created the best little tour of her favourite places. I have been to Singapore a few times, but never like this, so I just had to share my best bits in the hopes that I can make someone elses trip to Singapore (even if its a short visit) as memorable as mine.

I’ve hyperlinked as many Instagram accounts as possible so you can look further into planning your trip!

Tiong Bahru is a bustling little suburb close to the central city and should be at the top of the list if you love wandering around the streets to soak in the culture and soul of a new place. The Art Deco buildings are crisp white and surrounded with palm trees and lush greens. Singapore is aiming to be the Garden Capitol of the World and Tiong Bahru is definitely doing its part on this one!

Walk the little lanes that run up behind the streets to see the most intriguing spiral and linear staircases, colourful murals, chefs at work in their steamy kitchens. The area is very boutiquey, with quality cafes, and little shops poked into the walls of these unique buildings, especially on the trendy Yong Siak St. Singaporeans regard Tiong Bahru as their ‘ traditional foodie’ place- anything bought from Tiong Bahru is revered. It really does provide the perfect afternoon stroll.

The must see stops on your stroll:

Tiong Bahru Bakery: for their freshly baked almond croissants and pastries or a lemon tart graded from 1 to 3 for tanginess! Plus the best Flat White, guaranteed!

Tiong Bahru Market: a traditional covered market with amazing flower stalls to greet you at the entrance – stunning orchids!  Further in, try the mangoes, papayas, jungle bananas, and a dragon fruit and admire the piles of fresh vegetables, the plethora of greens, peppers, chillies, beets, mini and maxi aubergines all sold in a frenzy of style. The sweetest ‘aunties’ sell eggs of all kinds. They’ll happily tell you all about them.

Upstairs is the food court- happening here since the 1950’s but since rebuilt and styled – very pleasant for its alfresco areas and its eco friendly recycling of all food waste. I literally ate here everyday. When you get to the top of the escalator turn right, and the second hawker in, is the hainanese chicken rice man. It may not look like much in the picture but for $2.50 it is the most delicious chicken rice I’ve ever had. To the left of the escalator is the juice stand. Ranging from $1.50 – $2.50 they freshly make watermelon, beetroot, passionfruit and apple juice, just to name a few!

PS Café: the most exquisite little bar straight out of an old classic romantic movie. With black marble and brass from floor to ceiling they offer a range of wine and cocktails, freshly made pizza and ice cream.

The Tiong Bahru Club: you can’t miss its jazz and house tunes playing out onto the street. The Tiong Bahru Club is a great Sunday evening spot to sit on the street and watch all the interesting people walking by. I had one of their iced rose teas which I highly recommend. My mum said the Weissbier – a wheat beer, is delicious.

Strangelets: On Yong Siak St, have a lemon olive oil ice block, they are amazing!!

One Olive: a gorgeous little plant and flower shop on the corner. Filled with roses and hanging planters. The shop is occupied by the shop cat Sunday who even has his own Instagram account!

Plain Vanilla: with three mint green cruisers and a swing greeting you on entry, this little café is very picturesque. Try one of their amazing tarts or use their work space to catch up on some e-mails.

Curated Records: flick through the classic vinyls in this tiny little record store on Tiong Bahru Rd. And next door to them is a French Book Shop!!

Just up from here on the corner is a very popular local seafood restaurant-chilli crab seems to be the speciality going buy the huge open aquariums I walked past each evening – trying not to look in!

Right … so yes, there is plenty more to see in Singapore outside of Tiong Bahru, I could write a novel, but here are a few that have left some pretty special memories for me:

Sentosa Mambo Beach Club: If you can get past the ships floating out at sea (and even if you can’t they’re an amazing sight) then you will love Sentosa! Many go for the tourist attractions like Universal Studios, but mum and I took off right to the beach. Lined with palm trees and white sand, it whisks you off to another world, nothing like the bustling busy city you left ten minutes ago. The sun was in and out all day but honestly it was so hot I dint think I could have handled the full sun shining on me! Go for a stroll up the beach until you come across Mambo Beach Club. They are situated on one a really nice part of the beach and offer a range of sun loungers, cabanas and couches and if you order a cocktail and/or food and you can lounge all day enjoying the beach, their pool and the Ibiza styled house music. Just ten minutes taxi from downtown Singapore you would be silly to miss this one.

Rooftop Bars

Singapore offers a number of beautiful rooftop bars but I have my two favourites. Fullerton Bay Hotels rooftop bar is open to the public and looks over to Marina Bay Sands. The bar area curves around their rooftop pool and offers the most amazing view, especially for the 8pm light show with a cocktail in hand, bliss. The second is Ce La Vi at the top of Marina Bay Sands Hotel. When we went it was right in the middle of the Formula 1 so it had a $38 entrance fee but the last time I went there was no cover, you just had to buy a drink so definitely don’t pay to go to the viewing deck!! Ce La Vie over looks the rooftop infinity pool and provides some quality people watching.


Hands down, one of the most beautiful places I think I’ve been. Historically it was a Catholic convent, providing a school for girls, an orphanage and housing for nuns. The chapel, covered walkways and their repeating archways are stunning. There’s ‘something in the air’ when you go inside the walls of Chijimes, even though its now the home of lush restaurants and bars;  it is a little slice of romantic heaven. I would recommend Prives for their happy hour cocktails including cucumber moijitos. It looks across at the chapel and archways. I would go just before the sun starts going down as it is as beautiful during the day as it is at night.



The elegant, colonial style hotel is a Singapore landmark and one that cannot be missed. Directly across the road from Chijmes, it is surrounded by the most lush and landscaped gardens. Take a stroll around the different bars, fountains and courtyards. Everyone usually has a drink at the Courtyard Bar but mum and I like to sit on the veranda around the corner from the Writers Bar, overlooking the garden, with a martini in hand. Visit the old Long Bar, the oldest bar in Singapore for a Singapore Sling and to throw some peanuts on the floor.

Robinson Walk on Robertson Quay

I could honestly wander around the streets of an unfamiliar city all day and night. I just love to soak up the culture, buildings and different faces. This walk would be one of the highlights of my trip. Start at the Wine Connection. They have two venues, one offering the most decadent cheese platters and fresh amazing salads and the other just around the corner is much larger and is an amazing Tapas bar. I went to both and could easily have eaten there every night. Once the cheese and wine has settled in, begin the Robertson riverside walk. A mix of modern and historic buildings line the river and are beautifully lit up to reflect perfectly on the water. Lined with bars and restaurants, its great for people watching too.

Violet Ooon – The National Kitchen at the Singapore National Art Museum

I’m not quite sure how this lady doesn’t have a Michelin Star. Not only is her food actually mind blowing but the restaurant is 100% without a world of a lie the most beautiful restaurant I have experienced. Violet owns and operates this restaurant serving Peranakan food. The entrees/starters are so beautifully plated and were so flavoursome, like nothing I have tasted before. I had the Chicken Lemak and a glass of Rose. Flawless. I even met the lady herself, in her 70s she only overseas the kitchen but still keeps her recipes a secret in her head!

I’m looking forward to going back and exploring the city further. I feel like I only touched the surface of the real side of Singapore! It honestly created some of my fondest memories and I am so excited to go back and explore even more.

The travelling side to my thirties, I love it xxx


The Woman : Living wild and free in Bali. This is Mel, and this is her story.

I met Mel years ago through friends of friends. She was so inclusive, bubbly and genuine. Someone you just want to be around. We haven’t seen each other in years but I’ve been closely following this little gem on Instagram as I was so intrigued by her picturesque images, quotes and lifestyle. We were so over due for a catch up, I wanted to know the story behind her positively dreamy lifestyle. So here it is. It was much more than I was expecting, so inspiring, honest and motivating for any woman in her thirties.


I call home:

For now I definitely call Bali home. When I was 18 I set off and moved to Australia by myself, so I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in Sydney and the Gold Coast. I’m a kiwi girl, so New Zealand will always be my homeland… but the island has stolen my heart. I feel so at home in Bali and hate leaving, but I know it’s never for long. I feel blessed every day I get to spend on the island, its my paradise.


Single, dating, married?

Single baby! And loving it!


Working in:

I’ve been working as a Producer in the Advertising industry for around 10 years now and just recently in the last few years started working on reality TV productions. My career has allowed me to travel, meet and work alongside so many amazing talented people. I’ve made a lot of life long friends, which I’m so grateful for. I have an incredible year of travel lined up for work ahead, including South Africa in the new year, so I’m really excited for what’s to come.

I’ve also been quietly working on my swimwear brand Honey & Hawk, which I’m looking to launch in the coming months. It’s something I’ve been working on for the last few years on and off in between contract work. I can’t wait to finally get it out there!


What’s one thing you have accomplished in your 30’s that you’re most proud of?

One thing I’ve accomplished in my thirties is definitely creating a life I want to live. I’m a very spontaneous person so I like to have the freedom to travel. I don’t want the house in the suburbs working the 9-5, Monday to Friday lifestyle. That doesn’t excite me at all.

I packed up my life and decided to move to Bali a year ago, which has been a dream of mine for years. I now base myself in Bali and fly in and out for contract work in the TV industry. This way of life is working for me at the moment, so I couldn’t be happier. Every year I’m getting closer to my overall dream life, which I’ll continue to chase until it becomes reality!


What’s the toughest part, or the biggest challenge I’ve faced on my 30’s?

My thirties haven’t always been a tropical paradise! Only those close to me will know as I kept it very quiet at the time, but at 31 I was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of lung cancer. A cancer that if it had spread, there was no form of treatment to cure. After 6 weeks in hospital and multiple surgeries, I was thankfully free and feeling very lucky to be here. I had an amazing support network of friends and family which I’ll be forever thankful for and they will always hold a special place in my heart.

Anyone who’s been through something like this or has had someone close to them go through it, will know how much it changes you from the inside out, whether you realise it at the time or not. I’ve always been a positive person but I now live everyday so grateful and blessed to be alive. I try to pour as much happiness and positive energy as I can into my day and to those around me. I’m 100% healthy now and have never felt better. I look at this experience as a positive thing, it’s definitely made me so much stronger and shaped me into the person I am today.


Best part about being single:

I’m not going to lie, after coming out of an 8 year relationship / engagement 3 years ago, I’ve definitely faced some of the hardest times adapting to being on my own again and I guess in a way losing your best friend. But you can’t stay in a relationship for comfort, no matter how special and amazing that person is. It’s so easy to lose yourself when you’ve been in a long relationship, so the last 3 years was all about finding myself again (cheesy I know, but true!). It’s been incredibly hard at times but very rewarding and I’ve learnt a lot.

This year has been a game changer for me, she’s finally back, found light and I’m having the time of my life. In my relationships I’ve always been supportive and all about giving your partner the freedom to do and go anywhere they want and not hold them back from chasing their dreams… and I will always support this 100%. It’s so important. However, the best part about being single is that you’re free to do as you please and you don’t have anyone to check in with or to miss or that misses you (apart from friends and family of course). It’s guilt and emotion free freedom! I’ve travelled so much and met some incredible people on my journeys. When the timings right I’ll find someone on the same path to run wild and free alongside me… but it’s not something I’m out there consciously searching for. I’m just enjoying life and focusing on my goals and if someone comes along, amazing, but until then I’m very content with how I’m living my life at the moment.

One annoying thing about being single:

Where is our Single Celebrations Day? The lovers get Valentines, where is ours? I think we should create a date and make this happen! Hah

What you wish your coupled / married friends would stop doing?

Stop having such cute babies! I’m not sure how many more times I can fall in love!

Advice for anyone in their 20’s that you’ll realise in your 30’s: 

  1. LOVE YOUR BODY! Inside and out. Feed your mind, body and soul goodness. No one is perfect (unless you’re genetically blessed!). We all have curves and cellulite… we are WOMEN! Love what you’ve got. Own it. Embrace it. Confidence is sexy! I also have so many scars from just generally being a bit of a tomboy growing up. But behind every scar is a good story and a sign you’ve lived an adventurous life!
  1. Don’t chase people. Friendships, relationships, love. Just don’t. When it’s right, it’s easy. Trust your intuition and give your energy to the people who care and respect you for who you are.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is fighting their own personal battles. Just be kind. Don’t judge. Don’t hate. Empower others and it will come back to you tenfold.


My 30’s so far have been some of the best years of my life. I know what I want and I won’t settle for anything less. I’m happy in my own skin and for me that’s the best feeling in the world.

Remember that you are entirely up to you. Create the life you want to live, never give up on your dreams, surround yourself with people that lift you higher, be happy, smile, give love and most importantly laugh your way as much as you can through this adventure called life!

Big love



30 Boxes I Want To Tick Before I Turn 35

The past year has been the most valuable yet, I’ve gained so much confidence and experience doing things I’ve never done before or things that were completely out of my comfort zone.

I’m constantly thinking of things that challenge me or will add an interesting story for my little book of memories. So here are 30 things I will do in the next few years so that I can hit 35 a little more interesting…


1. Make another 5 best friends

2. Visit at least 5 international offices of our agency

3. Learn to love olives, oysters and red wine

4. Present at an industry conference or seminar of over 200 people

5. Hit 100 pairs in my heel collection

6. Have a walk in wardrobe that displays them floor to ceiling

7. Turn 35 in the best shape of my life

8. Read a fiction book (I am all things “reality”)

9. Remember my immediate families members birthdays, all in one year

10. Go on a blind date

11. Go to Mexico and stay in an all inclusive 5 star hotel with my best friends, not leave the resort once, just eat, drink cocktails and gossip.

12. Drastically change my hairstyle, something I have not done since I was at school

13. Apply to be on a reality show, why not

14. Meet one of my favourite social media stars like Olivia and Nat

15. Look 30 on my 35th birthday (hopefully thanks to my natural skincare regime)

16. Spend a week at my beach house alone

17. Drive without a destination in mind and sleep under the stars wherever I end up

18. Walk the blue streets of Chefchaouen, Morocco

19. Fly business without having to pay for it …. wonder how this will play out?!?

20. Start a collection of interesting coffee table books

21. Put $100 chip on red

22. Go through all my clothes and donate EVERYTHING that I haven’t worn in 6 months 

23. Experience a one, two and three Michelin star restaurant

24. Get feather touch eye brow tattoos

25. Be on a panel, discussing something that Im passionate about

26. Keep consistent at going to the gym, exercising my heart, the most important muscle in the body!

27. Have a birthday and invite more than 30 people … I shy away from the birthday fuss

28. Go to a bar on a busy Friday night and have a few drinks alone

29. Have a girls weekend at my beach house and marathon The Bachelorette

30. Start watching or reading the news …. regularly.

So this all starts now I guess! Id rather turn 35 and look back on the last few years full of the most rewarding experiences, new friends, lessons and feeling content.