Melbourne’s Dani Venn‘s life could be divided in two: before MasterChef and after MasterChef. Life post MasterChef (she came fourth in the 2011 series) has given Dani a myriad of foodie opportunities. She has hosted Weekend Feast on Channel Ten, dabbled in breakfast radio on Nova FM, cooked her way around the country at live food events, created recipes for food companies, catered intimate dinners and large celebrations, and started her own food blog, The Wholehearted Cook. Before MasterChef Dani worked in media and communications (and has a degree from RMIT to prove it) so it’s comes as no surprise that last month she officially launched her latest venture, her own creative agency specialising in the food industry. ‘Eat It Up Creative’ helps restauranteurs and hospitality entrepreneurs to realise their creative potential. Oh, and did we mention she is also a mama. Her gorgeous Harlow Moon turned two in October!

What an exciting 5 years it has been. Tell us a bit more about your latest venture, Eat It Up Creative.

I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and to create something bigger than myself. The timing to start Eat It Up Creative felt right and it brings together both my industry experience and my love for both food and communications. I also noticed that there wasn’t an agency offering specialised services for hospitality businesses that can assist with branding, marketing and social media management but also menu development and food styling. We take a holistic approach so that the business achieves long-term success.

What type of services do you offer?

We always start with getting the product right first, because what’s the point of having a great social media presence if your food isn’t up to scratch? If the business has nailed their product then we can work with them on social media, marketing and make their brand boom! We also offer recipe testing and development, food styling, communications strategy, branding, social media management, staff training, event management and PR support. Now that’s a mouthful!

Back at home, what is your favourite go-to meal to cook for the family?

I’m a big fan of Asian stir-fries using my trusty wok, it’s simple, healthy and quick. However, since I’ve started eating predominately wholefoods I don’t use the stir fry sauces I grew up eating like oyster and hoisin sauce or any packaged stir-fry sauces because they contain so much sugar and preservatives like MSG. I instead make up my own using a mix of miso paste, garlic, honey, tamari and apple cider vinegar.

Any favourite foodie locations in Melbourne you think we might not know about but should?

Nice question! There are so many amazing little foodie pockets popping up in Melbourne all the time. I have been hanging out on High St, Thornbury and Preston a bit lately and am quite surprised by the rapid growth in that area. There’s Dexter (Preston) that quite literally serves meat doughnuts and the best American style BBQ, Out Of Sundaland (Thornbury) who are rocking Asian street snacks and look out for new pizza joint and bar Wolf & Swill that is about to take Melbourne’s north by storm!

How has life changed since having Harlow?

In the most amazing way. Harlow has bought me so much inspiration and drive that I could never have dreamed of before having her. I have a lot to thank her for, she brings my partner Chris and I so much joy (except when she wakes at 2am to play!) Time is precious now but as they say pressure makes diamonds.

We’re guessing she had a lot of home made baby food! Any particular favourites you created?

Certainly have! A lot of slow cooked stews with loads of vegetables and secondary cuts of meat that soften up and bring so much flavour to a dish, plus they are great for freezing. It’s so important to always have something that can be pulled out of the freezer and defrosted quickly.

Any advice on for fussy eaters?

I’m lucky that Harlow has always been a pretty good eater but I think introducing a range of foods to your child early with different textures and flavours. If you only serve them pasta they will probably only ever eat pasta. Swap up your grains, try quinoa, brown rice and barley in soups. And a little butter over some steamed veggies does wonders!

How do you manage to juggle motherhood around the new business?

I have an amazing mum who I would be lost without. Mum constantly helps me and fortunately doesn’t live too far away. I’ve also had to rely on daycare two days a week and the gaggle of babysitters I have on call as my partner works at least 6 days a week.

Any funny parenting stories you’d like to share with us?

We were in Bali recently at a waterpark and Harlow did a poo in her nappy, my partner changed her and put her dirty nappy in my backpack instead of throwing it away. Later that day my mum and I went to Finn’s Beach Club and they searched our bags before we were allowed in, what they found was quite disturbing especially as I didn’t have Harlow with me. I looked (and smelled) like the biggest creep! Lucky we were still allowed in.

What inspires you each day?

We live on the outskirts of Melbourne on a bushy block in the Yarra Valley region, it’s a nice peaceful place to wake up in the morning. I’ve also started 5 minutes of morning meditation to focus on gratitude and abundance before starting my day with a great App called Omvana, it helps me stay mindful throughout the day. And of course seeing Harlow grow and learn inspires me, I want to be able to give her the best experiences and that drives me a lot.

What’s next in 2017?

I’m really excited to have launched The Wholehearted Wellness Retreats happening in Bali next year. I’ve created these retreats with mums in mind, as it really is a chance to put you first for once and immerse yourself in one week of Bali bliss. Think daily yoga, wholesome food, cooking masterclasses, nature walks, Balinese beauty classes, twilight cocktails and a whole bunch of new like-minded friends. It’s one week just for you – no work, no laundry, no demands, no uninterrupted sleeps. YESSSSS!

Finally, where can we find you?

and follow Dani on Insta at