Surfer, songstress cooks up a book

Nava Young collected recipes from surf greats such as Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and her dad, Nat Young, for the book “Surf Food.”

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

When it comes to the global surfing community, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Nava Young, the 25-year-old daughter of Australian surfing legend Nat Young, has followed her father not only into world-class surfing competition, but into publishing as well. Nava will discuss her just-released first book, “Surf Food: The Ultimate Surfer’s Cookbook,” at Diesel, A Bookstore, this weekend.

“My dad’s a pro surfer, both my brothers are pro surfers and I’m around surfers a lot,” Young said in a phone interview with The Malibu Times. “It seemed like a good idea to write about what I know, you know?”

Apparently, she knows about cooking as well as waves (she is currently rated second in the Australian Longboard Qualifying Series and will be competing with the world’s best surfers in the 2010 Women’s Longboard World Circuit Tour) and has amassed a collection of favorite recipes from the world’s greatest surfing icons, including Malibu’s Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and, of course, her dad.

The book is not just a list of dry meal planning. Featured with the recipes are biographies of the surfers, “awesome” color photographs and an international slate of dishes that will, if not boost your boarding ability, fill your stomach.


“The book has everything from breakfast to dessert, healthy to naughty, from surfers who are 19 years old to guys in their 70s,” Young said. “The proceeds [from the book’s sales] are going to different surfing charities (the Surfrider Foundation being one of them). So, if you don’t know someone’s bikini size, it’s a perfect Christmas gift for a surfer.”

Young’s book follows her father’s tome, released last year, “The Complete History of Surfing, From Water to Snow.”

Young is realizing a great deal of personal creativity right now. She was raised in a tiny community of about 60 families in Angourie, New South Wales, steps from the beach and about four hours from the nearest international airport. The statuesque blonde fell naturally into surfing-as-a-way-of-life early on and said that the board is more natural to her than walking. But she also has a musical muse and just released her first CD of self-composed tunes, titled “Salty Lullabies.”

The CD features a Norah Jones-ish ballad vocal and a decidedly surfer-dude vibe.

“When I was about 12, I got some stitches and was out of the water for a few weeks,” Young said. “Dad gave me a guitar and said, ‘This should keep you busy till you can surf again.’ I started writing my own songs a couple of years after that.”

Young will offer a couple of tunes at the Diesel event, along with recommendations for filling the belly of someone who has been surfing all day.

“I asked about 60 pro surfers I know to give me their favorite recipes,” she said. “After everyone submitted their recipes to me, I tested them in my mom’s kitchen a couple of times to make sure they worked. There’s a great recipe for Bangers and Mash [sausage and mashed potatoes] and a Chinese Chicken Salad.”

Young’s task was made more challenging because she is a vegetarian, as is her mother. But she farmed out enough dishes to friends and family to ensure that only the best recipes made the cut.

This two-pronged, book/CD marketing effort is designed to exploit a surprisingly restless intellect. Young graduated last year from Southern Cross University with a degree in International Studies, but with an academic career that was weighted heavily toward history, philosophy and English literature.

Young’s father exemplifies a typical Aussie, laid-back demeanor when speaking about his daughter. But his pride in her entrepreneurial venture fairly bursts out of him.

From his snowboard retreat in Sun Valley, Nat Young said, “Really, all I can add to [my daughter’s] perspective is that her mum and I believe in encouraging our kids after they graduate to shoot for their dreams. In this time of difficulty in the job market, we can make it a bit easier by lending them a few dollars to see if they can learn how to make it in the real world.”

Nava Young plans to tour the next few weeks, performing songs and attending book signings to promote the surf cookbook and CD.

“It’s been a pretty huge learning curve, publishing this book myself,” she said. “And I start on the longboard circuit next year, so I’ll be busy. I guess I’m putting off getting a real job for as long as possible.”

Nava Young will discuss her new book, “Surf Food: The Ultimate Surfer’s Cookbook” at Diesel, A Bookstore on Dec. 6 at 3 p.m.

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