Take a tour inside the beautiful Georgian Glen Iris home of Amanda Henderson and family, with the Black AGA 3-oven cooker stealing the show in the kitchen.
Only a short distance from the AGA showroom in Prahran, lives renowned visual merchandiser and Gloss Creative founder Amanda Henderson. Built in 1929, her home is an Interwar House with a Georgian revival, however it was renovated in 1959 thus the very mid century overlay. “The best word to describe our home would be very relaxed. We’re a fairly relaxed family. It’s so lived in and our kids have grown up here.”
Amanda gives me a tour of her Glen Iris home; there’s a beautiful lounge room with a bookcase spreading over one wall, filled with visual design and cooking books. “It’s one of my favourite rooms – it’s a great view out the window and it’s just a nice, relaxing space.” Next is the dining room, with an amazing dining table in the centre almost taking over the whole space. It’s impeccably decorated as expected. “When we first started our family we could fit 14 people around that table but now there’s 25 people in the family so we have to have 3 tables. When we have family dinners like Christmas and Easter, we have one table in the hall, one outside and this one in the dining room.”
“Part of my motivation is presentation; there’s nothing more I love than to set the table.”
We then wander into a space down the back of her home, the Studio and Gloss Creative office. Amanda and her colleagues specialise in decorating marquees, runways, set design and floral styling for large events. They have worked on such events for the NGV, Myer and Kookai. Her favourite installation? “Definitely the NGV Gala. To create a luxury dinner experience for 360 guests throughout the European gallery was certainly a career highlight for me and our team. To create this space with the most beautiful flora and flowers was just a dream come true. We designed a table that meandered throughout the whole gallery and each seating area was like a U shape.”
And now to Amanda’s favourite room in her home: the kitchen with her beautiful 3-oven AGA cooker in black. “The main reason I wanted the AGA was so I could have friends and family around, bring people together and have a great time. That’s my motivation. My mum always brought people together and that’s something that’s really important to me. Basically the AGA meant that I could have a lot of people over and I could cope with it, and also the oven could cope with it.”
“The AGA definitely feels like the centre of everything.”
Amanda’s kitchen is vibrant when you walk in, and is definitely the brightest room in the house. The walls and cabinets are all white, with the black AGA stealing the show in the corner. “I was open to any colour AGA, but in the end it’s what suited this kitchen. Once we figured out we were having an all-white kitchen, we decided on the black AGA. It definitely feels like the centre of everything.”
Amanda’s old oven was 50 years old, and she could never achieve cooking a crunchy-on-the outside, soft-on-the-inside pavolva or even crispy potatoes. “I just wanted a better piece of kitchen equipment. I had a very old oven before. I basically wanted the AGA to take me to the next level of cooking. With the AGA, I’ve felt everything I’ve done has given me a reward. The AGA has turned me from a very average home cook, into a good home cook."
“I’m going to get an AGA and I think I can get my head around this. And I did.”
The Henderson’s purchased their AGA in 2009 from our Prahran showroom, after waiting 4 years for their house renovations to finish, and finally make the best decision. “I have a friend, an English girl from Ballarat, and we would go over to her house for these amazing afternoon teas. Everything that came out of her oven was to die for; orange cake, lemon cake, scones. Her oven was this beautiful navy blue AGA and I just asked her so many questions. I started to understand how the AGA worked. My favourite thing about my AGA is that it rewards me and it's motivated me to try new things.”
Sitting on the hotplate lid of the AGA is a picture-perfect pavlova, topped with blueberries, blackberries and passionfruit, very in-theme with the colours of her kitchen. It’s Amanda’s favourite dish to create and a regular in her household that all her family adores. The recipe is by Gabriel Gaté, found here. She also loves cooking slow cooked meats like a beautiful big fillet of beef. “I’ll sear it on the hotplate for a couple of minutes, take it down to the Roasting Oven and leave it there for 20 minutes, pull it out, then rest it on the hotplate lid for 15 minutes and then: perfect! And of course I accompany that with the crunchiest potatoes. I just cut them up and smash them half way through the cooking with olive oil just so they get the little crispy bits that everyone loves. And at Christmas time a little duck fat for a treat!”
“That’s what I’ve felt is so great about the continued AGA community, just finding new ways to do things that you already do in the AGA.”
The AGA teaches it’s owners so many things that they would never try before, and also changes their love of cooking. Once you buy or inherit an AGA, you join a wonderful community of passionate home cooks. “I’ve been to so many AGA Cooking Demonstrations with Tatty and they are completely enthralling. Just the way she’s so quick, she’s like a magician. Every time I go to those events I feel like I’m inspired to try more. I always think “Oh I can try that”. I met a lady at one of the demonstrations and we were saying “I cook the chicken this way” and “Oh I cook it this way and in this oven”. And you just learn all the different ways to do things. Even once you’ve learnt what to do, there’s so much more to learn.”
The AGA seems old and cumbersome when you look at it but its actually extremely smart and cooks food so quickly. It's so hot when it needs to be hot and gentle when it needs to be gentle. “It’s quite forgiving. It doesn’t matter what style or cuisine your cooking, the AGA can handle it. And because I have quite a small kitchen it’s great because I can have something in every oven of the AGA and just pack it all in. In winter, we all gather around the AGA and have our meetings and morning coffee because its so delightfully warm."
“I’ve really enjoyed the idea of the AGA as the heart of the home. I do feel like the warmth that it gives is a really nice thing as well, it’s really homely and it feels good.”
Images and words by Paula Vinci.