Behind The Hero: Tonia Buxton, Consultant Chef & Author
After serving over 20,000 guests nationwide last year, yhangry recognised that behind every dinner party, every recipe, and every photo of a dish and chef is a compelling story waiting to be shared with the world.
We launched the Yhangry Foodie Hero Award, an award for food creators, chefs, cookbook authors, recipe developers and more to celebrate the local heroes who nourish us all and highlight the businesses and individuals who shape the industry.
Join Usman as he dives Behind the Hero and sits down with nominee Tonia Buxton, Consultant Chef & Author to hear her story, including some BTS. We love that Tonia Buxton is part of this food award.
Q: What’s your story, how did you get started in this space?
A: Cooking started for me at home, where my mother learned to cook in my grandmother’s kitchen. I was really interested in food, especially how it can keep you well, so I went on to do a lot of nutritional qualifications and became a nutritionist.
Even then, my love for Greek and Cypriot food remained strong, and I was eager to spread the word. Finally, I was able to do that through My Greek Kitchen and My Cypriot Kitchen, my very own TV series on the Discovery Channel. It was a proud moment to be able to introduce the world to the cuisine that I grew up with.
Q: What does the food industry mean to you?
A: To me, the food industry is kind of everything. It’s not just about feeding people, it’s so much more than that. It’s where we socialize, where we gather with friends and family. The industry plays a crucial role in our humanity, bringing us together and creating connections.
Q: What was your “holy Sh*t, this is kind of going somewhere” moment?
A: For me, the most unforgettable moment was when the Discovery Channel approved My Greek Kitchen and My Cypriot Kitchen. I had gone to around 200 production companies to try and get them interested in a show about Greek and Cypriot food.
But most of them wanted to package it with other Mediterranean programmes, and that just wasn’t what I had in mind. So when the Discovery Channel finally commissioned my series, it was like a dream come true. I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening. I felt like, “Oh my God, this is really happening.” It was a pretty cool moment that I will always cherish.
Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
A: I feel that the biggest challenge in this industry is its constant and relentless nature. Just because you had a great day today, it doesn’t mean that you will have a great day tomorrow. You have to work hard and consistently at it. There is no point where you can say, “Okay, now I can relax and take it easy.” That doesn’t really happen. This is especially true when it comes to producing good quality food and feeding people, whether it’s on TV, in a restaurant, or in manufacturing. You have got to be on your toes all the time. It’s a never-ending process that demands your constant attention and effort.
Q: Who are you inspired by?
A: The people that truly inspire me the most are the everyday home cooks who prepare delicious and good meals for their families each day. I could mention some celebrity chefs or even well-known cookery writers that I admire, but I believe the real heroes of the food world are those who create wonderful dishes without any recognition or fame. These home cooks don’t have a TV crew or any prestigious accolades, but their dedication and passion for cooking is truly remarkable.
Q: What advice would you give to people who want to join the industry?
A: The food industry can be challenging and it is a hard life, so you have got to really love it. If you want to get involved in the industry, you will require immense resilience and be willing to put in the hard work required to succeed. If this is truly your passion, you will find that it brings so much fulfilment and reward. But you must have a deep love for it and the patience and resilience to overcome the challenges that come with it.
Q: How does it feel to be nominated for the Foodie Hero Award and why do you want to win?
A: It was a lovely surprise, truly wonderful. I wasn’t expecting it. You know, when you put in a lot of effort and hard work, it’s always nice to receive such nominations. Most of the time you just keep pushing forward, hoping that someone out there is paying attention. So, it was truly a delightful surprise.
Q: What’s your go-to comfort food?
A: When it comes to comfort food, I have two go-to dishes because it depends on whether I’m in the mood for something savoury or sweet. If I’m craving something savoury, there’s nothing quite like spanakopita, the Greek spinach-ricotta filling baked with phyllo pastry. And when my sweet tooth is calling, Bougatsa, the Greek phyllo pastry with a lovely custard pie inside. These dishes are like a warm hug on a cold and rainy day, transporting me back to the flavours of Greece and Cyprus.
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Help her become a Yhangry Foodie Hero, by voting now!
Check Tonia Buxton out on Instagram: @toniabuxton