Sophie Monk shares her favourite food hacks and quirky cooking tips
Television personality Sophie Monk, 42, has spent most of her adult life in front of the camera, getting her career break on the reality TV series Popstars with girl group Bardot in 1999. She spent a decade in Los Angeles making films before returning to Australia in 2015.
Monk says she’s found her happy place in Terrigal, on the NSW Central Coast, where she lives with her husband, Josh Gross. A self-described homebody, the Gold Coast native enjoys dining at home with friends and doesn’t mind sending herself up on Instagram for a laugh. Never far from our screens, Monk is a series regular on The Hundred with Andy Lee and is tipped to return later this year as the host of Love Island Australia (both on Nine, owner of this masthead).
Her new role, as ambassador for Tropic Co National Prawn Day on March 18, came about after her husband posted about their love of prawns on his social media accounts. Now she’s swapping high heels for a fishmonger’s apron to hang with the experts at the Sydney Fish Market on Friday, March 17, channelling Paul Hogan’s 1980s shrimp-on-the-barbie tourism commercial for the TikTok generation.
Lettuce burgers, swapping the buns for lettuce, with onions, a large beef patty and lots of mayonnaise and pickles. Photo: iStock
Signature dish and what is your go-to at home
I’ve lived with my husband, Josh, in Terrigal for two years now. It’s where Josh’s family is from. It’s close enough to Sydney but I prefer to be a little further out these days. We’re real homebodies and love to just chill out together. I like to whip up a spaghetti bolognese because you can’t go wrong with a classic like that and I do enjoy my carbs. When we’re trying to be good, we make lettuce burgers, swapping the buns for lettuce. We add egg and it’s very messy – there’s onions, a large beef patty and lots of mayonnaise, tomato sauce and pickles.
My guilty pleasure
My guilty pleasure is going wild on anything that is ultimately bad for you. Whether it’s burgers and chips from our local takeaway shop in Gosford or chocolate cake, I take the time to savour every moment because I love food, and especially the naughty stuff. We are obsessed with Red Rooster. I am not an ambassador. I just love their chicken. I get the family meal and share it with Josh – we live for the cheesy nuggets. Pizza Hut has a great dessert, too – a gooey Hershey’s lava cake. I have been to restaurants around the world, but this is seriously delicious. I am not usually a sweet tooth, but this hits the spot.
Best kitchen wisdom I cling to
My mum is the most amazing cook and I grew up with her making healthy meals every night. But the truth is, I am not the best cook as I’m often travelling for work and eat out a lot. When at home, I keep it simple with meals that are easy to prepare and are still delicious. I have a hack for poaching eggs in the microwave. You crack an egg into a mug, and add water, and blast it for 30 seconds. You’ll get the best-looking egg and it tastes good, too. I also like putting sour cream and avocado on the top of spaghetti bolognese – it’s not really what people do with bolognese but it’s delicious and you should try it. I always look for the quickest pasta to cook as well.
Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno at Nobu. Photo: Penny Stephens
My favourite hometown restaurant (and go-to dish):
We always go to Arc in Terrigal. It’s not far from our house. I don’t make a huge fuss when we dine out – we always book at the last minute. The food is beautifully presented, the service is top-notch and the venue is near the beach. I love to order the Atlantic salmon with house Caesar salad, beef carpaccio and roast pork belly with braised fennel.
My favourite hometown cafe
Luna Cafe in Terrigal is a regular go-to. Josh and I love a big breakfast – bacon and eggs. I always order a skim flat white for coffee. We also head there for their burgers and chips.
What’s your favourite place to eat in Australia?
A favourite place to dine is George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant in Coolangatta – I love the location on the water. The restaurant is known to serve only the freshest produce. I am a big fan of creamy garlic and white wine sauces. The charcoal prawns are a winner here.
Black cod with miso (saikyo yaki) at Nobu. Photo: Simon Schluter
ON THE ROAD
What’s your favourite food city and why?
I spend a lot of time in Melbourne, and I think I have spent more time in restaurants there than in Sydney. My good friend Oscar is a foodie and is always in charge of organising where to eat when I visit. You’ll find me at Clover on Swan Street, Richmond – I always order the honey bread with herbes de provenance, half roast chicken with shallots and mustard, and grilled zucchinis.
Nobu’s Melbourne restaurant is one of their best. I love seafood and will always order the Hiramasa yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno. The Nobu-style seafood ceviche, prawns with spicy garlic sauce, and black cod with miso (saikyo yaki) are outstanding. Nobu always tastes better when someone else is paying because every bite is $10. But for a special occasion, it is worth it [laughs].
Bar Carolina in Toorak Road, South Yarra, is another favourite. I can recommend the oysters with finger lime mignonette, burrata with ‘nduja, barramundi cooked in negroni, truffle chips and their signature Lavender Spritz.
I can also often be found at the Richmond Oyster Bar on Church Street. I order grilled local prawn cutlets, sherry-garlic prawns, the seafood platter and their house-made Golden Gaytime.
Where do you stay when you’re there and why?
When in Melbourne, I like to stay at Crown Towers because the beds are insanely comfortable and the restaurants are great and within easy access. I also love to stay at The Langham and the Park Hyatt in Melbourne. I like to change it up, but these are my three faves.
Black cod with miso (saikyo yaki) at Nobu. Photo: Edwina Pickles
I have a few favourite restaurants in Sydney. Raw Bar in Bondi is a regular go-to. I love their fresh seafood and prawn rolls. I will always order miso black cod from Toko. And China Lane in Angel Place in Sydney is really good for modern Asian food – from steamed prawn and water chestnut dumplings to steamed WA scallops.
When in Sydney I like the convenience of Bondi QT, Crown Sydney and the Ace Hotel. I always like to mix up my stays. I’m a homebody naturally, so when I’m staying in these great hotels, I like to enjoy a little bit of the luxury, even if I’m only there for a short time. I love a bit of indulgent junk food from the room service menu: burgers and fries or classic club sandwich or anything else that feels naughty.
Sophie Monk is an ambassador for Tropic Co. National Prawn Day, March 18, 2023