Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Extraordinary Routines Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Interview by Madeleine Dore
Photography by Annette O’Brien
This interview was originally published in my column for Domain

Julia Busuttil Nishimura: Cook and author of Ostro

Doing what you love can be both a dream and a daunting prospect. For cook and author Julia Busuttil Nishimura, traversing back and forth between teaching Italian full time and doing what she loves full time has helped to keep anxiety at bay.

“You don’t have to be doing what you love 100 per cent of the time – that can be really scary to the point where you don’t work well because you are always worrying about money. It’s a balance – and you have to back yourself either way.”

Julia credits an openness to opportunities and connecting in person to much of her career success. “We can so easily get stuck behind a computer, but things come through friendships and connecting in a real way”

Now writing her second book, Julia is currently in the swing of working solely for herself and appreciates the space that has brought into her daily life. Her week is typically split between looking after her three-year-old son Haruki and cooking, writing, and meandering through her favourite fresh produce markets.

“I now have three days a week to dedicate to my work, whereas when I was teaching I was always trying to catch twenty minutes here and an hour there and I never felt like I could get momentum.”

“You don’t have to be doing what you love 100 per cent of the time – that can be really scary to the point where you don’t work well because you are always worrying about money. It’s a balance – and you have to back yourself either way.”
Extraordinary Routines interview Julia Ostro
Extraordinary Routines interview Julia Ostro

A day in the life

Extraordinary Routines interview Julia Ostro


I haven’t had to set an alarm for three years since Haruki wakes us up around 6.30am and we will all have a simple breakfast together.

My partner Nori and I will take turns in dropping Haruki at kinder and on his days I will have the space to myself.

I’ll usually make a list of what I want to get done and plan what I want to cook. This habit is key for me because I have a terrible memory and having a list really helps me focus. Then I’ll check emails – I like having anything straightforward pretty much cleared.

If I’m going to the market, that’s sometimes a full day event. I sometimes feel guilty about that, but it’s where a lot of inspiration for my recipes come from, and also working by myself means that most of my interactions come from people I am sourcing food from.

If it’s a cooking day, I will cook and write notes. I’ll often listen to the BBC Food program or music. When I am doing something quite repetitive like podding peas, I might watch a TV show.

Extraordinary Routines interview Julia Ostro


One of my favourite things about working from home is being able to have lunch whenever I want and having something different every day.

I also think it’s really important to stop when you work from home and have a break. Often I’ll post my lunch on social media, which encourages me to make it special for myself.


Working from home can be distracting because you can see all the things in your home that need to be done. Especially when I’m on deadline, I will often find myself doing everything else but that. If I can sense that I’m in a slump, I’ll take myself to the cafe around the corner.

I’ll usually finish working at around 3pm or 4pm because I like to start getting dinner ready for when Haruki gets home so the evening is stress free.


We will have dinner at around 6pm and that is the best part of the day. After, we might go to the park or Haruki will play with the neighbours.

After Haruki goes to bed, Nori and I might watch a movie. When I was teaching, I was always working in the evening and sometimes I still do and that’s fine. I’ve found not having strict boundaries is what works for me, because otherwise I feel guilty when I can’t stick within them.


I go to bed way too late because even though I’m forced to get up early, I’m naturally a night owl. I find it hard to switch off from my social media in the evenings so leaving my phone outside of the bedroom is a big help. 

Extraordinary Routines interview Julia Ostro
“It’s only a problem when it’s a problem for you. There is so much information now about what it means to have a good work-life balance and positive work habits, but it’s also about going with your gut and finding what works for you.”

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