If you’re one of the many (many) people who follow Daen Lia on social media, the title of her new cookbook will sound very familiar.

Garlic, Olive Oil & Everything Else sums up the straight-up deliciousness that have made her cooking a worldwide sensation.

Blessed with a Spanish-Sicilian mother and enchanted with the magic of food by her late Sicilian nonna, Daen has lived a life where family and cooking are wrapped up together, whether in rolling croquettes for Christmas Eve, feasting on paella or just sharing pasta together for dinner on a Tuesday night.

In the book you’ll find the crumbed chicken that very nearly broke the internet, a Bolognese recipe that Daen reckons might be the only one you’ll ever need, fluffy focaccia, moreish sandwiches, a killer chilli oil and, of course, her signature confit garlic – the condiment she says will level-up just about every dish you care to add it to.

When Daen isn’t confiting garlic or breaking the world wide web, she eats and shops her way through Melbourne with gusto. Here’s a few of her favourite addresses.

My local is The Little Man in Seddon. Toby, the owner, is such a sweet and welcoming person that it always brightens my day to walk in there. He also makes a mean cup of coffee and delicious breakfast. The Chinese fried eggs are my favourite.

I know I’m in Melbourne when I start my day with a great cup of coffee, surrounded by incredible food and wine, and speaking with the local market and deli vendors about what delicious food and produce they have on offer for the week.

In the mornings you’ll find me grabbing a cup of coffee at The Little Man, followed by a visit to my favourite grocer, The Happy Apple and fruitmonger, Pompello (Elliot who runs the store always sources the best garlic for me) to buy ingredients for my workday to buy ingredients for my workday and then back home where my studio is to shoot and film recipes with my wonderful studio assistant. This morning ritual usually takes me an hour – I feel so lucky to live in such a lovely community where we know so many people and can have a quick neighbourly chat.

My defining food moment in Melbourne was… When I was younger, my family and I would spend our family holidays in Melbourne. I remember the first time I walked down Lygon Street with my Italian nanna and mum. I couldn’t believe how many Italian restaurants there were and how all of the vendors were standing outside yelling out their specials. I was visiting from Brisbane, and this was a new experience for me. We only had a handful of Italian restaurants back home at the time, so it was incredible to see so many restaurants offering food that my nanna had always made for me. I also loved listening to her speak Italian with the restaurant owners and waiters.

When I want to show the city off to friends from out of town, I like to take them to all of my favourite restaurants and bars. A visit to Marion is always on the cards, pure Melbourne. I also love to take visitors to Carlton Wine Room or Neighbourhood Wine for their Sunday pub lunch followed by a visit to the gardens. There is nothing more Melbourne then eating amazing food, drinking good wine and spending the rest of the day in a leafy park.

My favourite place to stock up on supplies is the Queen Vic Market or The Happy Apple. I love spending a day at the market with my two-year-old daughter. We always start our visit with a coffee and croissant from Market Lane Coffee. I then wander down through the meat and seafood section, finding some great deals for the day. The deli hall always has beautiful meats, cheeses and spices on offer. And it wouldn’t be a visit to the market without popping into Books for Cooks and seeing what their latest offerings are. If I’m staying local, I visit The Happy Apple for all of my produce. Their quality and selection of produce is exceptional. I love how they support lots of local brands.

The best new thing I’ve found is the live seafood market in Footscray, D&K Seafood. It’s right around the corner from me and I can’t believe I only discovered it a few months ago. It has an incredible range of seafood and even an oyster bar. Oysters are my absolute favourite thing to eat in the whole wide world so when I discovered an oyster bar was right around the corner from me you can only imagine my excitement. My daughter calls this shop “the aquarium”; she loves to look at the fish swimming around. One day when we were there a fish jumped out of the tank and onto her foot. She got the fright of her life.

When I want to go all out on a special meal… I’ve just booked Navi! I’ve been trying to get a reservation there for months and I finally got one for my partner’s birthday. (I’m taking him there as a surprise so hopefully he doesn’t read this before then. Babe, if you’re reading this, close your eyes.) It’s definitely a restaurant to save for a special occasion but I can’t wait to try it.

When I want to drink something Victorian, my first choice is coffee! We’re known as the coffee state for a reason.

There’s no better value in Melbourne than eating and shopping in Footscray. The Vietnamese food is the best in Melbourne and it’s incredibly affordable. I used to live in Cambodia, and it reminds me a lot of my time there. I love buying a banh mi for lunch and then a banana fritter from the banana fritter man who sits outside the market.

My new book is all about garlic and olive oil. I mean, it’s about how I run my home kitchen more broadly speaking, but the chapters focus on the core elements of my cooking: garlic, olive oil, bread, butter, crumbs and eggs. These are familiar ingredients that I always keep in my kitchen and pantry. And I do mean always. On the very rare occasions that I find myself without olive oil or garlic, I am either sent into a mild panic or I send my fiancé out the door for a late-night grocery run.

But even then, garlic and olive oil are the real stars. Growing up with a Spanish-and-Italian mum running our kitchen, olive oil ran through our veins and garlic seeped through our pores. We didn’t spread butter onto our breakfast toast, we fried it in olive oil. Our garlic crusher was a prized possession that was handed down to my brother who then handed it down to me. We used olive oil as a seasoning because high-quality extra-virgin olive oil is so luxuriously smooth, rich and fruity that it rightfully earnt a spot next to our salt and pepper shakers.

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be… This is a hard question. I love how in every suburb of Melbourne, you’ll find amazing food, coffee and grocers. Where I grew up, we had to travel far and wide for a good cup of coffee or a visit to the Italian grocer. What we have here is special and there is very little I would change.

 But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the amazing selection of food that comes from all different cultures. We are so lucky with our options here and I will never take that for granted. I love how I can get the best banh mi in Melbourne that is only a short five-minute walk away, and if I were to walk the opposite direction for five minutes I can grab the best Italian deli sandwich (Roccos Deli, if you’re reading this I love your sandwiches!).

Daen Lia’s Garlic, Olive Oil & Everything Else, ($29.95, Plum), is on sale now; for stockists see daenskitchen.com; follow Daen’s further adventures at @daenskitchen on TikTok and Instagram