Fresh & Wholesome with VanillaFood

Image source: Photographer Katja Anton

Deb Caruso chats with the local chef on a mission to enrich people’s wellbeing and excite their tastebuds – one mouthful at a time! 

Like a lot of chefs, helping her mum in the kitchen sparked a lifelong love of food for Nilla Tomkins of VanillaFood and the soon-to-open Nilla’s Pantry.

“I have always loved cooking so I decided to do my chef’s apprenticeship and here we are,” Nilla said. “Creating in the kitchen is my favourite thing and I love nothing more than going into the garden at the restaurant to pick herbs and flowers and see them go from the garden to the table.”

The Danish-born chef and business owner is celebrating her tenth year in business since opening her first VanillaFood café and kitchen inside Belmondo’s Organic Market in Noosa’s industrial precinct. 

Her flagship restaurant opened four years later in the summer of 2018 in Noosa Junction and continues to be a hive of healthy activity with fresh, seasonal and local food and ideas that continue to inspire us. 

Wholesome breakfasts and lunches, gluten-free baking, raw and vegan sweet treats and nourishing smoothies are all on offer – plus coffee from some of the best baristas in town!

The menu changes seasonally with daily specials, and customised dinner experiences have been introduced.

Nilla’s appreciation of organic food was born from a desire to nurture the health of her two daughters. 

“To me, the most important thing is to look after your health and family first. If you don’t have that, you have nothing,” she said. “I slowly changed the way I cooked at home and that followed through to my businesses and was the key driver for the cookbook.”

VanillaFood the Cookbook features more than 230 pages of recipes, stories and tips and tricks for fuss-free, wholesome and real food, including many of the favourite dishes, dips, drinks and sweet treats from the cafes.  

Beautifully and authentically written and styled by Nilla, all the dishes are vegetarian, many are vegan – and all are certifiably delicious!

 For Nilla, it is always about good food, health and the environment. She embraces the power of food as medicine and its ability to connect people and bring them together. 

Her signature squeeze of fresh citrus and use of fresh herbs and edible flowers (mostly grown in the garden behind the Noosa Junction restaurant) brings every dish to life while adding a fresh and healthy touch. 

As she prepares to open Nilla’s Pantry and say goodbye to Belmondo’s, one thing is certain: Nilla’s knack for nurturing us through food will always be a winner!


About the Author /

Deb has 25+ years' experience providing strategic communications and brand reputation advice to clients in the government, business and not-for-profit clients. She is passionate about Noosa and is an active member of her community, providing PR to Slow Food Noosa and other clients. Her passion lies in working with small businesses to help them succeed. She is planning to release the Tastes of Noosa cookbook with Matt Golinski in 2019.

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