Yasmin Newman is a food columnist, cookbook author and presenter.

She is captivated by the stories that surround food and spellbound by its flavours.

In 1975, a Filipino girl set off to Australia on a university scholarship. Soon after, she met a young Aussie bloke and fell in love. The two married and, after a son, they gave birth to a daughter, Yasmin.

Born in Sydney, Yasmin was much like her global family. A desire to see the world was in her blood, as was a hope to understand it.

Her early years were marked by holidays to visit her mother’s family in the Philippines and time on the farm with her father’s parents in the hinterland behind Byron in New South Wales. At 16, she head off to France on exchange for her first solo trip. Her travels around Australia and the world continue.

A love for food hit early, too. At age five, Yasmin knew precisely what cake she wanted for her birthday. At nine, she was spending all of her hard-earned pocket money on sweets. By 12, Yasmin’s thoughts revolved almost entirely around what to eat next.

In later years, she understood the importance of food beyond pleasure. It is a gateway to different cultures.

Profile portrait: Yasmin Newman by Nigel Lough Photography. Above (from left): a young Filipino girl peers through the fence in Donsol, Philippines; sunset in Palawan, Philippines.
In later years, Yasmin understood the importance of food beyond pleasure. It is a gateway to different cultures.

At university, Yasmin set out to be a journalist. She mastered French and learnt Spanish, then lived in Paris, Mexico and Los Angeles. A series of events – friendships with food lovers, and the introduction working for a lifestyle magazine to a genre of journalism – led Yasmin to food writing. Enquiry and culture came together through a platform of food.

Once back home, Yasmin built her experience. She studied pastry arts and staged with pâtissiers. She worked as deputy editor for a food street press, then chief sub and online editor for MasterChef Magazine. She also became a columnist for award-winning trade magazine FoodService, presenter of SBS Food Online’s ‘Kitchen Conversations: Philippines’, and a freelance feature writer for a number of leading Australian food publications, including delicious., Feast, Selector and SMH Cheap Eats Guide.

Above (from far left): a street vendor slices banana heart in Bangkok, Thailand; Easter parade in Mindoro, Philippines; seaside bar in Puerto Escondido, Mexico; heirloom gourds for sale somewhere on the Pacific Highway, Australia; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; an old push bike in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Driven by a personal interest in the culinary history of the Philippines, in 2009, Yasmin took a six-month sabbatical through the land of her mother. Inspired by local food ambassadors met along the way, Yasmin resolved to help share the Filipino food story and preserve in print traditional recipes and modern food ways for future generations. Four years and a number of trips culminated in Yasmin’s first book, 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines, published by Hardie Grant. The book, released August 2013, is distributed in Australia, UK, USA and the Philippines.

At present, Yasmin lives with her husband by the beach on the Central Coast, just north of Sydney, and continues to write, present, photograph and create recipes for a range of media.

She is captivated by the stories, folklore and science that surround food, and spellbound by the imaginative power of flavour. She explores the world through these incredible means of discovery.