Mags: GWAS Best Glossy Covers 2009

It's no secret that life in Glossy Land has been far from a picnic in the park this year. Unsurprisingly, many mags chose to play it safe with their cover offerings, or else budgets were so tight they swapped and shared studio shots amongst themselves until we felt like it was Groundhog Day. So, this is a mini celebration of the top 10 covers that stood out, for me, amongst the clutter, tapped perfectly into the glossy Zeitgeist, and in turn thumbed their noses at the GFC.

See also: GWAS Best (& Worst) Covers 2008

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Notes: Farewell, beautiful Brittany

By now, you are probably aware of actress Brittany Murphy's death from heart attack over the weekend. She was 32, married to screenwriter Simon Monjack, hopeful of having a child in 2010 and has been described by her father (from whom she'd become estranged) as "an absolute doll... everybody loved her... she was just a regular girl."

She and her mother were very close, with Murphy crediting Sharon with her success: "I was really grateful to have grown up in an environment that was conducive to creating and didn't stifle any of that. She always believed in me." She also felt "blessed to have a really great loving husband." My heart pains for her family and her husband.... and also for my own. Because Brittany's tragic fate could have easily been mine.

While, like most girls who were teens in the 90s, I will always think fondly of Murphy for bringing the adorable Tai to life in Clueless, Murphy's death resonates with me for another reason. There is already speculation that she suffered diabetes, a condition which may have contributed to her death, as well as drug use (typical of most Hollywood death scenarios). I'm going to speculate some more, which is not a terribly good journalistic practise, but as I have garnered a little perspective in recent years, and can quite confidently put two and two together (four! the answer's four!), what I have to say might prove to be corroborated by the coroner's report.

A picture, as the saying goes, tells a thousand words (Madonna and Guy miserable one day, divorcing the next, yadda yadda). And, having been exposed to more than a few pictures of Murphy because of the nature of my work, it's fairly plain to see that she had been battling some body demons since she rose to fame via Clueless. In fact, the changes in her body shape and size have very nearly reflected my own (go here for a handy retrospective look). The drawn, exhausted look of some of her close-up pictures? That's me looking in the mirror 12 months ago (and, yes, the odd day even now – choose your face over your butt, ladies, think face over butt!).

In 2005, Murphy told one magazine, "I had a publicist...who told me that I should cover my arms up in photos. She felt that if I did that, they would stop picking on me. She meant well, but it made me really self-conscious." How helpful. In 2005, she also told Jane magazine: "I love food. I don't know, God gave me hollow legs or something." Then, in 2006, she hit back at tabloid suggestions of an eating disorder saying she's "always been the same size", which clearly she has not. Classic defensive eating disorder talk.

I can only imagine the pressure Murphy must have felt to maintain a svelte figure in Hollywood. And that pressure was felt by her little body and her poor little heart. Unfortunately, both can only take so much torture before they throw their hands up in the air and say, "I just can't take what you're doing to me anymore. Over and out."

There are days now when I'm tempted to gun it on a run – it's a legacy from my eating and exercise disorder that has been hard to shake; even more so when the lifestyle is validated by glossy magazines, Madonna and the girls I see flogging themselves on the beach-side streets whenever I head back to Sydney.

Every time I see a picture of a shrinking personality in the media who's clearly succumbed to the powerful persuasion of over-exercise, I feel sad; even moreso when someone in my personal circle of family and friends sheds a few kilos and gains that wiry, hard-bodied look sported by the likes of Madonna, Renee Zelleweger, Victoria Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, et al. I feel sad because exercise addiction is like any other – it robs you of the richness of life and the energy to fully enjoy it. In Brittany Murphy's case, quite literally.

If it does transpire that an eating and exercise disorder are to blame for Murphy's cardiac arrest, I hope her death is not in vain: that it might open up more eyes to the damage girls are doing to themselves all around us, every day. And maybe magazine editors will come to realise that they can do something positive to help circumvent this sort of compulsive behaviour – i.e. soften up on the diet and weight loss stories and encourage your readers to GO EASY ON THEMSELVES and their bodies. As Tai said: "Cher, I don't want to do this anymore. And my buns: they don't feel nothin' like steel."

R.I.P., Brittany. You were a beautiful girl.

See also: Media Body Obsession and Extreme Role Models

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Christmas tips with Zoe Foster!

So that I might enjoy some blog time off for my birthday, GWAS friend Zoe Foster has ditched her regular online digs in order to amuse us all with some Christmas holiday antics inspired by her latest book, Textbook Romance (Penguin, $24.95). What a treat!

For those not familiar with her impressive body of work, Foster is a beauty editor by day (director of via Harper's BAZAAR and Cosmopolitan), Cosmopolitan's dating columnist and an author (if you loved her debut, Air Kisses, you will luuurve her upcoming Playing the Field, too).

She's also exquisite to look at, funny and smells good: the kind of glistening package that you'd be stoked to unwrap on Christmas morning if you were a boy. In fact, she'd make a pretty tree ornament, too.

But enough with the flattery – here's what she has to say about handling your holiday relational pickles with the utmost diplomacy (ha!), with gratuitous random Christmas flick pics added for festive visual excitement...

GWAS scenario: Your ex is at the same pub/club with his new girlfriend....
Zoe says: If your gut feeling is the desire to throw something (a punch, your drink, that poker machine), I suggest leaving. There’s no valor in staying put when the environment (or rather the company) upsets you, and there are plenty of establishments that serve vodka. If you’re feeling okay about seeing him and his new lover, I still suggest leaving, or at least situating yourself in a different area of the pub because even if you two are cool, just knowing he’s there will impact on your evening and taint your jovial festive energy.

GWAS scenario: A cute boy makes eyes with you just as you are about to leave the venue and head to your mum's for supper...
Zoe says: Catch his eye right back, lower your head a little, tuck your hair behind your ear and flash him your Super Dazzling Smile. You know, the one that comes when you find $20 in your jacket pocket or you get a spectacular parking spot. Then leave.

GWAS scenario: You want to watch Carols by Candlelight and put cookies out for Santa; he wants to party at the pub wearing a Santa's hat...
Zoe says: There are two options and neither includes fighting. Option one: Compromise by asking him to go play Carols with you for a few hours, then join him at the pub for a while. Option two: Both do your own thing with each other's blessing and don't bitch him out the next morning when his pores ooze Tooheys, his brain is operating at 12% and you have to be at your parent’s place in 15 minutes. Laugh at him instead – you would hope for the same concession if it were you who’d had a big one with all your school friends on Christmas Eve (which a lot of people do.) People have different ideas and experiences of Christmas, and being in a Quality Relationship means not trying to squish him into your mould or censor what you really want to do to fit into his. Communicate and compromise.


GWAS scenario: You have no boyfriend/fiance/husband and are attending Christmas lunch with your extended fam. You are not Bridget Jones...
Zoe says: I think this is actually a real gift (zing!). When you're single you tend to be more present (double zing!) because there's no mental real estate being dedicated to your man and what he's doing, or how his day is going, or why the f*ck he hasn't called yet. You can REALLY listen to Granny as she babbles that Aunty Lorna's pudding is rubbish, and REALLY thump your cousins at Wii bowling, and REALLY help your mum make that epic walnut salad she makes every year. Christmas day happens once a year. Soak it up.

GWAS scenario: You are attending your first Christmas lunch with his extended fam...
Zoe says: Everyone has a different experience and way of executing Christmas, so I guess the key is to do your best to elegantly shimmy into his family’s way of doing Christmas (without secretly losing it because they still haven’t served lunch at 4pm, when your family eat at 1pm.) Of course, it goes without saying (but not writing) that you must be a the Number One Helper Elf: even if all the kids are sitting around and his mum is the only one in the kitchen, go in there and make a firm, more-a-statement-less-a-question request to help prepare food, or set the table, or make the Pimms or pass round the stubbies or hand round the caviar or whatever.

GWAS scenario: He wants to do Christmas with his family; you want to be with yours...
Zoe says: This one is terribly common and extremely delicate. Especially if there are geographical barbs. Most couples roll with the, ‘My family this year, yours next year’ thing, because it’s fair, but some prefer the, ‘Oh HELL no, I am NOT spending Christmas with your screwy family,’ which is slightly less fair, and more conducive to epic blow-ups.

If it’s possible, geographically feasible and fits in with both families’ Grand Festive Plan, maybe see one family for Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas lunch, and the other for Christmas dinner. (If you buy each other rollerblades for Christmas you could rollerblade from his parents place to yours on Christmas day and avoid the old, ‘Who gets to drink’ conundrum. Awesome.)

HOLIDAYS! (Double whee!)

GWAS scenario: You are going camping with him and the boys. You hate camping...
Zoe says: Ah, but you have consciously decided you are ‘going’, which overrules the ‘hating’ part. Shift the mind-set: This is the perfect opportunity to suck it up and do something out of your comfort zone for the man you love. Honour your decision to go and to do something that makes him happy and his gratitude for your attitude will ensure you have a walloping good time. And when it’s your choice next time, he’ll go along with it happily because you were such a good sport. Holiday WIN.

GWAS scenario: You are mad-keen for a holiday fling. How do you meet a boy (who, I might add to keep the parental groups off my back, is not a 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin)?
Zoe says: Go where everyone goes over the summer holidays: the beach or bar (or RSL or Bowlo) but don’t go out hoping to find a guy: having fun with your friends should be your ultimate goal. A woman having fun is irresistible; guys will seek you out. Also, try wearing sandals and less makeup – for some inexplicable reason the less time you spend on or care about your appearance, the higher likeliness of sexy times. Not sure why. Just know it’s true.

GWAS scenario: A wisdom tooth forces you to spend your holidays inside eating jelly. Best romantic holiday read?
The Bronze Horseman... Oh, Shura. Or Air Kisses, obviously. Or Textbook Romance. (Oh come on, you left that wide open, Erica.)

Yours truly,
Zoe and Girl With a Satchel

GWAS Notes: Packin' the satchel

Dear Satchelings,

As I am currently a) packing my satchel; b) asleep; or c) making tracks for the red-eye from the Gold Coast to Sydney, I won't be available to post anything in time for your morning latte. In fact, I won't be posting anything today (Friday) because it's my birthday and the party's happening off-line (virtual cake, hugs and gifts just aren't the same).

However, Zoe Foster will be dropping by shortly to entertain you and I shall return to the blog on Monday, perhaps with a post inspired by one of the publishing gems in my loot bag (which comes care of The Hanging Space – top points for PR!).

And there's always the Times' 50 Best Design Blogs, Jezebel's Photoshop of Horrors Hall of Fame, Fifi's 'Best Celebrity Quotes of 2009' and new issues of Who and OK! to consider in my brief leave of absence. There shall be a pop quiz on Monday!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: Frankie + Fanny (two peas in a pop culture pod)

Glossy talk

In a world replete with me-too glossies telling us to tone up, act sexy and shell out on in-season fashion, Frankie is like a bright shooting star in the night sky – respite from the Gossip Girls and bikini bodies and Hollywood hoo-ha.

Frankie reader Georgie has this to say about her favourite magazine: "as I carefully flip each new page, I anticipate what exciting things will be on the next, hoping and praying that there is no end to this little comfort that distracts me from study".

I imagine that Fanny Brawne did much the same for poet John Keats – distracting him from his writer's angst and ailing health and encouraging him to create. I think we all need a Fanny or a Frankie in our lives – someone to inspire us and hold our hand and believe in us like Wendy and Peter Pan when worldly worries threaten to take away our ability to laugh and play. Frankie is not Jesus – in fact, I'm not sure how Jesus would feel about its overarching theme of unashamed 90s slackerism and frequent f-bombage – but it's still a bright shining star*. These are the top 12 things I like about Frankie this issue:

1. The 'Frank Bits' pages have the same effect on me as going into a Borders store armed with a gift voucher: hello, giddy. So much goodness, what to choose? Each morsel of text and accompanying picture must be appreciated like the layers of a licorice all-sort. And, like a lucky dip (or visit to etsy), you never know what you're going to get (like Miss Bookmaker's vintage notebooks, Little Jane St's handprinted ribbon, a Q&A with Gideon from Joe Gideon and the Shark, Pony Rider's Flowerbomb cushion covers, Happy Helper wine stoppers by The Small Object and the Status Anxiety "Amelie" coin purse).

2. Jason Bateman's self-deprecating comment on being cast in Up in the Air opposite George Clooney: "When cool people invite you to a party, you immediately clear your schedule and lay your outfit out the night before on the bed and get ready to go, and that's what happened here. I've been invited to hang out with the cool kids and I don't want to do anything to get kicked out."

3. Angelique May-Bennett, of fashion label myPetsQuare, in 'Homebodies'. Pretty to look at and pretty darn cool, too – she is an orphan who has bought and renovated five homes. She likes the security of having her own digs with husband Killerwhale and dog Fizzy (names in correct order, I believe). Note Playboy in magazine rack. Interesting.

4. Little Golden Books aplenty, page 34. Nostalgia rating: v. high.

5. Pip Lincolne's Hoop Pin Boards DIY project. Fun! I have a lot of time for Pip in my life. She is the Mary Poppins of craft.

6. 'In the Garden State' is a pretty shoot starring Millicent from Vivien's Models in various floral arrangements and braided hair shot by Amanda Austin on a backdrop of flowery wallpaper. 'Who, What, Wear', shot by James Mills, features model Catherine (@ Priscillas) in cute '60s outfits and some nice black eyeliner work. While Frankie's models always look forlorn and in need of a choc-chip muffin, I think they meld seamlessly into the magazine – like nice curtains.
7. Jason Schwartzman, whose voice stars in the upcoming Mr. Fox, reminds us men have insecurity issues, too: "You know, 10 months ago I was like, what's happening with my life? I'm not doing anything, what does it all mean? And now all this stuff I've made is coming out. Now I'm like, god I hope people like it. What if I suck? What if they think I'm a dick?"

8. 'Language warning' with Benjamin Law. Learn how to say basic phrases in Arabic ("lusty, back-of-throat emphases"), German (Wo ist meine Wurst = where is my sausage?), Hindi ("Think of Bollywood but acapella"), Mandarin (by far the most spoken language in the world today), Spanish ("Hands will become more expressive; eyebrows will be put to use") and Russian ("out-of-control, mind-bogglingly, will-make-you-weep difficult")! Also, this issue, Law educates us in the boganification of homosexuals (and vice versa).

9. The portfolio of Aussie champions of unicycling, highland dancing, air guitar and button accordion. Lina the accordion player leads a fascinating existence (she won the Australasian Championships in 2007). Where does Frankie find these people?

10. The 'Badge of Honour' accessories shoot. Too cute.

11. Global affairs get an airing with Benjamin Law's 'World Issues In a Paragraph'. The GFC, Emissions Trading Scheme, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Proposition 8, Northern Territory Intervention, War in Afghanistan, Tensions With Iran and Asylum Seekers in Australia – each topic is given the "in a nutshell" treatment and a "further reading" list. If aliens were to land on Earth today, this would sum up things nicely for them.

12. And the final bright star – author and illustrator Dalla Clayton talking about the book he created about dreaming big for his son, The Awesome Book, which has now sold 30,000 copies. "It's allowed me to set up my new foundation, The Awesome World Foundation, which donates a book for each copy I sell to a school, or hospital, or charity. The reality is definitely beyond anything I had expected."


Some films are just made for sharing with the women in your life, especially if your husband thinks Jane Campion is an Olympic runner.

Bright Star has all the makings of a sophisticated cinematic experience to be discussed at length over a coffee. There's Abbie Cornish, who plays Fanny Brawne, the nextdoor neighbour, muse and romantic interest to Ben Winshaw's ailing poet John Keats; the romance that ensues between them and gives him the will to write as he battles tuberculosis ("Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art..."); and, of course, the period costumes and cinematography, which are no-doubt Oscar-worthy.

If you have no concrete plans for the weekend but would like to partake in a screening of Bright Star, thanks to Hopscotch Films, I have 10 double passes to give away (valid weekend of December 18-20 at participating cinemas).

Simply email with details of your Brightest Birthday Ever, name and mailing address and tickets will be popped in the post so you too can be in the GWAS birthday spirit (oops, did I mention it's my birthday tomorrow?)! Make it quick!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: Madison - Joye to the world

Glossy Talk

Yesterday Madison editor Paula Joye mused on The Punch that Elin Nordegren was like Glinda the Good Witch of The North. I wonder, in an industry with more than its fair share of Wicked Witches, is the analogy just as applicable to Joye herself?

Let's start by examining the character of Glinda, created by author L. Frank Baum, according to Wikipedia, and comparing her traits to Joye's, according to Madison's January issue, as displayed in handy table format!

Joye has always been open and warm in her letters, but does this softening up of content – of being more compassionate towards women, in a crafty Glinda the Good Witch way – reflect a change in the industry Zeitgeist ushered in by the likes of Cindi Lieve's Glamour, or simply Joye's personal life journey (which, she admitted in her December ed's letter, has been tough over the past 12 months)? A glossy is a reflection of its editor – good and bad – after all.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

CHICTIONARY by Clare Press

(I speak, you speak, we all speak...FASHION)

F’row Word of the Fortnight

Pre-fall (pre-forle) n. No, not pride before a fall, although that indeed was a risk for designers who hadn’t quite hit their creative stride when they offered journos an early look at their moods for A/W‘10 this month.

Keep up now, ladies. If you thought the fashion calendar could be divided neatly into two - spring/summer and autumn/winter - you thought wrong. These days, fashion fans can look forward to showings at least six times a year, and that’s just taking Paris, London, Milan and New York into account.

Each late February/early March and late September/early October, the Ready-to-Wear circus hits the big four. This has long been balanced by the Couture in Paris: Spring in January and Autumn in July (go figure). Once upon a time the latter was all there was; fashion equalled Paris couture and that was that. But recently new rounds of shows have been added at such a dizzying rate that the editors can barely keep up, let alone us civilians.

The Resort collections – A.K.A. Cruise – happen all over the place each May (Chanel commandeered the Venice Lido this year) and give the big names a chance to flog swimwear and kaftans to their clients who winter in the Caribbean or are married to Greek shipping magnates.

Pre-fall is the latest fashion event to be invented by buyers bored of summer sale stock and media-hungry brands eager for greater exposure. What started as literally a sneak peek at the season to come via an early drop for department stores, perhaps with one model posing in the designer’s HQ, has morphed into a full-blown mini season complete with runways and blowing out budgets. What’s next? Apres-couture? Pre-pre-spring? My brain hurts.

In conversation. Hints and tips for daily use.
“Alexander Wang was way off for Pre-Fall this year. All those layers were just soooo serious. He should stick to the body con dresses.”

Your friend at US Vogue asks: “Are you coming to New York for the Pre-Fall? Some of the guys are doing some interesting shows this time.”
You reply: “I wish! They never fly us anywhere if they can help it. Can you believe they made me write the Couture report from”

See the last installment of "Chictionary" here. Visit Mrs. Press' blog here.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Book Shelf: Christmas Special #1 (food)!

This year I've decided to bestow a book on my nearest and dearest for Christmas as a way of keeping things relatively simple and avoiding queuing up at the shops at all costs. Over the next few days, I'll be giving you a glimpse at the titles I'll be gifting, helpfully organised into Food, Fashion and Fun. First up, food...

Sensing the public's current preoccupation with all things culinary (thank you, MasterChef, Julie and Julia and GFC), a bunch of cookbooks have been released just in time for Santa's sleigh loading. Here are five of my favourites...

I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot, $69.95, Phaidon
I broke a sweat hauling this tome onto my desk, such is the heft of its almost-1000 pages. Perhaps this is how the French, who have an aversion to gyms but have bought this tome since 1932, stay so slim? Known as Je sais cuisiner and recently translated into English, it has sold more than six million copies, earning its author the honorary title of "queen of French domestic cooking".

This edition is a satisfying education in authentic French cooking, with its sections on cooking fundamentals, utensils, methods, wine selection, flavourings, menu planning, etiquette and table settings, in addition to 15 recipe chapters covering everything from 'sauces and basic recipes' through to 'sweets, preserves and drinks'. Interspersed with true-to-life food photography (not for every recipe) and beautiful colour illustrations, just paging through it is a pleasure. My one qualm is that the ingredients are listed in ounces and pints, which is completely foreign to me.
Giving to... my mother-in-law

She's Leaving Home by Monica Trapaga, $49.95, Lantern
Nostalgia for Trapaga's stint as a host on Playschool notwithstanding, this book is a pure delight. What started as a gift of treasured recipes for her daughter Lil (who contributes several missives) has, Trapaga writes, "become a gift for women everywhere". Recipes include the basic, though multi-cultural, favourites served in most Aussie homes: bircher muesli, pancakes, sandwiches, pumpkin soup, tin-can tuna salad, spaghetti bolognese, roast beef, guacamole, cheesecake, san choi bao, risotto, tuna mornay, blueberry muffins and carrot cake. But there is also a nod to Trapaga's Spanish heritage, with notes on paella, sangria and gazpacho, and exotic takes on meatballs, duck salad and pasta dishes. With illustrations by Meredith Gaston and Trapaga's musings on practicalities, travel, fiestas, comfort food and family, it's the culinary equivalent of Michi Girl's Like I Give a Frock. A paean to a life well lived.
Giving to... my sister

Manna From Heaven by Rachel Grisewood, $59.99, Allen and Unwin
Rachel Grisewood trained as a chef in London before moving to Australia in the 1980s and founding her shop, Manna From Heaven, and The Sydney Biscuit Company, famed in foodie circles for its cakes, biscuits and pastries and served on Qantas flights! Grisewood's effervescent personality and passion for food shared with friends and family infuses every page. She describes her home as a "riot of colour, mess and many, many books", while in the kitchen "tins and jars clutter the benchtops, and bottles of olive oil and wine pile up next to cake stands, vases of drooping flowers and candleabra with candles that have dribbled down to stubs". What crazy fun! She shops for fresh ingredients each day and cooks with Julia Child levels of enthusiasm.

Recipes include her famous chocolate crunch, as well as 'Pooh's Goo honey Ice Cream' and moist orange cake with pistachios (the accompanying picture of this cake will cause you to salivate). From friands to fried potatoes, flatbreads to frittata, Grisewood's covered her entire culinary repertoire, and includes references to those chefs from whom she's taken inspiration, as well as quirky recipe asides. Images of a My Little Pony sitting atop a layered cake, a European-style table spread, lemon butterfly cakes, a very cute kitten, and a picture of the flame-haired Grisewood with her daughter, Olive, are memorable. It's as much an escape from the everyday into Grisewood's quirky world as a cookbook.
Giving to... my fairy blog-mother

The Thrifty Kitchen by Suzanne Gibbs and Kate Gibbs, $49.95, Lantern
This mother-daughter duo are proponents of conscious eating and engaging with food through preparation that doesn't cost a fortune. Suzanne's mother (Kate's grandmother) is Australian food doyenne Margaret Fulton, who took her to the food markets each Saturday morning in her youth to buy the freshest produce at the cheapest prices, from which they concocted delicious recipes to make meal times special. Mother and daughter both have a 'waste not want not' food philosophy, which calls for creativity in the kitchen, which is all too often lost in our microwave culture.

The book opens with notes on thrifty shopping, pantry staples and buying meats. This is followed by chapters on breakfasts (porridge with stewed rhubarb, muesli with berries, French toast, ricotta pancakes, poached eggs, omelettes); work lunches and lunchbox foods (hummus, bacon and corn muffins, chicken sausage rolls, sandwiches, falafel pockets, muffins and muesli bars); weeknight meals (crunchy tuna and egg mornay, 'slightly spicy salmon fish cakes', 'very retro curried eggs', Thai green chicken curry, lamb chops); meals from leftovers (salads, fried rice three ways, minestrone, fettuccine, potato pie); and weekend meals to cook and keep (Turkish bean salad, tomato and zucchini bake, Maltese tuna, pumpkin and rice pie, oven -braised lamb shanks and beef casserole). Apples, eggplants, lemons, stone fruit and tomatoes act as inspiration for still more recipes, which are followed by chapters on baking (cakes, biscuits, meringues, oatcakes, tarts), entertaining on a budget and a full and flourishing index. By the end, you will well and truly feel like part of the Fulton family.
Giving to... my mummy

MasterChef Australia The Cookbook Volume One, $39.95, Ebury
According to the latest Nielsen BookScan, this is the Titanic of cookbooks, becoming the best-selling book in Australia after its first week on sale. Impressive. But not unexpected: MasterChef was an Aussie pop-culture phenomenon in 2009, with contestants Julie, Chris and Poh all becoming household names and scoring themselves various media contracts in the process. In the foreward, Julie writes that MasterChef was "something positive, something affirming, something that drew families together in front of the television and into conversation with each other." She adds that her hope is this book will encourage people to get into the kitchen, back to the magic of cooking, like the show did. Given its instant popularity, I've no doubt it will be stocked on Aussie bookshelves just as Je sais cuisiner is in France.

The book covers all the basics, from dicing onions and slicing a carrot julienne-style (which always eludes me!), to making stocks, deciphering one potato from another, skinning a tomato and poaching an egg. There are tips from the show's judges and recipes by contestants, including Melissa's bug and sage tortellini, Chris's "beeramisu", Julie's lemon diva cupcakes and Justine's lamb roulade with spinach and mint puree. Photos from the show of all the friendly faces we came to know may see the MasterChef brand one day trump the venerable Australian Women's Weekly in the cookbook department!
Giving to... my sister-in-law

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel (full of cookbooks)