Rilka's Feasts by Rilka Warbanoff

Stories and recipes for family and friends

By Tricia Brown
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Rilka's Feasts by Rilka Warbanoff

Rilka's Feasts by Rilka Warbanoff [©Harper Collins]


In this delightful and heartwarming book, Rilka Warbanoff takes us back more than 100 years and charts the course of her family's journey from Bulgaria to contemporary Melbourne through food. In 180 recipes, she shares with us her happy, sad and frequently funny memories of family and food.

Rilka's grandmother was an amazing cook, even though her grandparents were very wealthy and had a number of staff in the kitchen. Her mother however was never encouraged to cook and as a young bride married life was a bit of a shock as she did not even know how to boil water.

Through necessity her mother quickly became a master in the kitchen recreating and adapting the recipes she was raised on. Rilka's childhood was all about food and, as with many of us, she has wonderful memories of Saturday afternoons in the kitchen with her mother and the delights of licking cream from the beaters and inside of the bowl.

She also remembers her grandmother and mother making layer upon layer of filo pastry "so transparent it was like sheer voile curtains across a window" as well as pastries and desserts, soups and stews. Rilka's happiest times to this day are those of food and sharing her table with friends and family, a sharing which is such a vital part of her culture.

Rilka's Feasts is divided into sections which include recipes and wonderful stories from her family life. Among these are My First Day at School, Godfather and Chestnuts, Why Something Sweet is Always Sweet, My First Christmas with the Springs and The Next Chapter to name a few. 

The recipes are a colourful mix of Eastern European, Irish and contemporary Aussie cooking for every occasion from quiet suppers for two to feeding a large crowd. The food is simple yet elegant and perfect for entertaining or impressing family and friends.

The stories are charming. From starting school in sixties Adelaide and hiding her salami sandwiches under the front seat of the family car because they were too 'foreign', to the poignant memory of her beloved husband Bill relishing his favourite duck dish in hospital days before he died, Rilka shows us how rich and poignant life can be when it is celebrated through food, family and friends.

"Food. What a fabulous way to share happiness, provide comfort when there is illness, help calm when there is stress and demonstrate the love we have for our friends and family."

Rilka's Feasts is indeed a book of love – stories of love and much-loved recipes to be shared with those we love.


Rilka's Feasts by Rilka Warbanoff is published by ABC Books (Australia, April 2012; sc, 335 pp) and retails in Australia for A$27.99.

It can be purchased online via here »



  • Melbourne (VIC)

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July 10th, 2012
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