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Date with Kate

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Gladys Berejiklian

21st May, 2017

Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier and I at Nola Smokehouse at Barangaroo

 

Gladys Berejiklian  became Premier and NSW Liberal Party leader after Mike Baird’s resignation in January. She had entered State Parliament in 2003 as the member for Willoughby. Berejiklian, 47, chats to me about her childhood, why she didn’t think she would make it in politics, and the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated arena.

What is a day in the life of you?

Well, with my job there is no such thing really as a day in the life. But I am someone who is very structured and organised, so I like to plan ahead as much as I can, because in this job the unexpected always crops up … Before I had this job, I used to count the hours I worked; now I count the hours I have off.

Did you always know you were going to go into politics when you were younger?

I always wanted to but I don’t think I always believed I would make it … I had this feeling that I would really be able to contribute something, but I never felt I would make it.

Why didn’t you think you would make it?

I had a different background, my long surname, just a whole bunch of things. I just thought I didn’t quite fit the mould. So my teachers and my parents used to always say: “Have a plan-B, Gladys.”

How would you describe your childhood? 

Oh, extremely happy, very, very loving environment and I just always felt completely supported. I was raised by my extended family, just not just my parents. It was quite “hands off” – I mean my parents were quite strict but they never told me to do my homework, they never told me to do anything … they just let us do things our own way, which was really encouraging.

What was the biggest challenge when you did go into politics?

I only got there by 144 votes [in my first election] … I think the challenges are ongoing. Politics is a kind of profession – as are lots of others – where you never stop having the challenges, and even if you are in different roles and you work your way up the tree, there are different and emerging challenges that come up. So you never feel that you’ve completely mastered anything … there is always something new to deal with.

Who do you look up to and admire?

… You come across amazing people who have really challenging circumstances and they just get on with their life and don’t complain – they’re the kind of people I really respect. They make the most of what they have, they try to be the best they could be for themselves and their families and that’s what really, really motivates and inspires me.

You always look well groomed – is that something important to you? 

Well, I love clothes and I love fashion and I just like to mix and match. I think it is important to always present well, and to make the most of what you have.

What do you enjoy doing during your time off?

I love catching up with family and friends. I love the arts, I love reading. I used to play golf but I just haven’t had time. I go to the gym – not as much as I used to. I’m only managing to do two workouts a week, so I’ve put on like a kilo, which I’m not happy about, so I’ve got to work that off.

What’s on your reading list at the moment? 

I normally have four or five books next to my bed … I’m reading a history book on NSW … I also like New Age books as well … I like to read what social commentators are saying around the world, as well just to pick up on what the mood is.

You have said you’re married to your job. What is that like?

I think anyone in my position would have to dedicate the time to the job that I am in. It is just part of your life, you just know that as long as you’ve got this job, this is your life and you’ve got to make the most of it, so that’s my attitude … I’ve just got to make the most of every day because not everybody has a chance to be in a role like mine leading Australia’s largest state, at a time when we’re doing so well.

What are your hopes for NSW while you’re Premier?

My focus is to build on the base we’ve got; we’re doing really well, but take it to the next level, and I want every person no matter where they live … to feel that they can be their best … If you provide good infrastructure, if you provide good schools, it doesn’t matter what your background is, you’ve got the chance to learn and be your best.

What is the biggest change you think people are looking for? 

I think people want to be part of government. They don’t just want to be listened to during elections, they want to know that you’re in constant communication with them, that you’re listening and in tune with what people need.

What is it like being in the public spotlight all the time? 

Well, I’ve kind of become a little bit used to it with my previous roles, but certainly this is a whole new level … I’m still quite new in the job, so I’m getting used to that side of it.

What would be your advice to young women wanting to go into politics?

I would say: be yourself, don’t try to be something you’re not … I’ve been quite stubborn, I guess, during the course of my career to say, “No, I want to do things differently,” including how I deal with the media. But I’ve said, “This is me, this is how I’m doing it.” I think just stay true to who you are and don’t let others around you try to tell you how to do your job.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years? 

It all depends on the good people of NSW. That’s the one thing in my line of work: you can work your hardest … but your future is really determined by how the public mark my government and myself.

About to enjoy our lunch at Nola Smokehouse

BITESIZE

WE WENT TO Nola Smokehouse, Barangaroo

WE ATE Crisp Hawkesbury Calamari & Pork Salad with grilled Spanish onion, chickpeas, chili, mint; Scallop Ceviche with Mexican cucumber salad, creme fraiche, avruga, chives; BBQ Yamba Shrimp with creamed grits, warrigal greens, abita ale and a selection of bread.

WE DRANK Coca cola and mineral water

GLADYS WORE  A Country Road dress and David Lawrence jacket

PHOTOGRAPHY SMH photographer Louie Douvis

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Nicole da Silva

7th May, 2017

Nicole da Silva and I at Eastside Grill, Chippendale

 

Nicole da Silva is an Australian actor who began on All Saints and now has an international cult following for her role as Franky Doyle in Wentworth, earning her a nomination for most outstanding new talent at last month’s Logies. Da Silva, 35, talks to me about losing her anonymity, the strangest place she has been recognised and the TV shows she is binge watching herself.

What is a day in the life of you? 

If I’m not working I like to get out and do some meditation and do some exercise … I’m [also] working on a few of my own projects.

Where are you based now? 

I’ve just come back from LA and am looking forward to settling down in Sydney for a while.

What has been the most demanding role you have ever played?

I would have to say Franky in Wentworth. [The show] just requires so much of us and all of the time. It requires a complete ability to go to the nth degree. We need to be so primal and vulnerable and there is no room for sidestepping around it.

What is it like to be part of the Wentworth phenomenon?

It is pretty huge, crazy and unexpected. Our fans are so loyal and dedicated to the show… They are constantly in contact.

What did you think when you first read the script?

I was really excited about Franky Doyle … I was excited about who she was and what was going on for her. I really connected with her, she was so strong on the outside but really quite vulnerable to what was going on in her life. It was a gift to bring [her] to life.

How do you prepare for role? 

I started training like she would train: I wanted to physically look really wiry and competitive. For the actual audition, I dressed down in a really ratty singlet. I covered my arms and neck in tattoos.

What is it like to be recognised around the world?

It is great and it has taken some getting used to. It is on Netflix now, so more and more people are catching wind of it. I don’t know how I feel about losing my anonymity, but it is just part of the package.

What is like to transfer from a dark character like Franky Doyle in Wentworth to Charlie in Doctor Doctor?

It was a relief, actually. It is so taxing to maintain that level of intensity required for Wentworth.

Is it hard to get out of character when you leave the set and go home? 

In my mind, I think I have quite a good grasp on it. I guess my family would have a different take on it. They would say I have a tendency to stay in that dark world during the period of shooting. Not to any extreme degree, but it is hard to shake it off after a full day.

How did you get into the industry? 

I graduated from drama school and started teaching speech and drama. I was going to a few auditions and the first gig I got was a semi-regular role on All Saints as an ambulance driver.

What was the best thing you learnt from All Saints? 

To not project my voice [laughs]. I had trained in theatre and it was all about expressing with your body and voice. However, on camera it is such an intimate medium with the camera only one metre away.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

The world can knock you down seven times, but you get back up eight.

If you hadn’t gone down the acting path, what would you have done? 

I don’t think there was any other path for me. I considered being an architect as I was really interested in building houses … It always came back to acting for me, though.

What would be your dream role? 

I’d love to do an action trilogy … maybe bring back Lara Croft.

What is next for you?

We are shooting season two of Doctor Doctor in a few weeks and I’m working on a few projects at the moment, too, which I have to keep under wraps.

Who do you look up to?

I like a lot of the unsung heroes of our industry. I think there is something really valid about an actor keeping some mystery to their life.

Is that something you consciously do?

Absolutely. I would hate people not to be able to engage with the story because of things they think they know about me.

What do you do for fun when you are not working?

I chill out. When I am working it is so intense and it requires every part of your life. I am really low-key. I binge watch television, I go for walks and do yoga.

What shows do you binge watch?

The Fall … Unreal … and The Night Of.

Have you noticed that TV has changed during your career?

When I was growing up, film was the pinnacle of storytelling. Now I feel we have moved into an age where television is the best way to tell a story over 10 episodes and five seasons. People really absorb themselves into the characters and we didn’t have that when I was growing up.

Have you noticed people are so invested in the characters? 

I get asked a lot if I have read Wentworth fan fiction… It is fiction about the characters which the fans write. There are whole online communities of our fans writing …

Where is the strangest place you have been recognised?

In bathrooms I find it confronting. I was in a supermarket in LA and I was asking for toilet paper because I couldn’t find where it was. She was like “Franky!?” so we had a photo in front of the toilet paper [laughs].

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully producing my own work in Australia … There is something really special about coming home and working here.

Do you prefer TV or theatre? 

I think in a lot of ways I prefer film. I prefer working with the camera in that respect and I know that is where I am right now. Theatre is so great as it requires a real physical and mental rigour; you rehearse and then open the show and still have five weeks of season to go. You really need to find the freshness each night … My preference is always shifting based on where I’m at.

BITE SIZE

Location: Eastside Grill in Chippendale

We drank: Eastside Bramble mocktail and Passionfruit & Lemonade mocktail

We ate: Mixed breads; Sustainable Tuna Poke with cucumber relish; Berkshire Pork Skewers with Rum Pickle Back; Salad of Autumn vegetables with Buffalo Mozzarella, Fig and Black garlic pesto.

Nicole wore: Kaliver dress, Samantha Wills Jewels, NineWest heels

Kate Wore: A TOME shirt and jeans.

Photo: Fairfax

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Sally Obermeder

30th April, 2017

Sally Obermeder and I catching up at Mr G’s

 

Television host, lifestyle blogger and cancer survivor Sally Obermeder welcomed her second child, Elyssa Rose, via surrogacy last December. Obermeder had been diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy with her first child, Annabelle, and began chemotherapy after the 2012 birth, later learning she wouldn’t be able to safely have another child. Obermeder, 43, talks to me about her surrogacy journey and Australian attitudes around it, the thrill of live TV, and her new range of frozen smoothies.

Do you love being a mum the second time around? 

It’s so different this time. I said to [husband] Marcus, “I can’t remember Annabelle smiling, I can’t remember this, I can’t remember that” … It was so tough at that time with Annabelle. It’s almost like this is, not like becoming a mum for the first time, but this experience, this new-born experience, is my first experience of it in this way and it is heavenly.

What was your surrogacy journey like? 

It was really good. Rachel [the surrogate mother, who lives in the US] is amazing. I still speak to her all the time … I think we’ll have a very tight bond for life.

Sally with her two daughters, Annabelle and Elyssa. Photo: @sallyobermeder

 

Will [Rachel] be involved in your life going forward?

Yeah I think so. We FaceTime all the time … it feels very natural. It’s just like sending photos of your kids to your friends.

What were the biggest challenges you faced during your surrogacy journey? 

A long distance is definitely hard because you’re not going to the appointments, you can’t physically. I would get up at 2am to be on a call when she was at an ultrasound or whatever … I think it’s also a challenge with Annabelle, because even though we talked about the pregnancy all the time and that her sibling was coming, for her it wasn’t in her face every day … And then suddenly you take her overseas, you’re like, “Bang, here’s the baby.” She’s like, “What?”

How is Annabelle [aged five] adjusting to being a big sister to Elyssa? 

She is a lot better now … I think she [initially] thought she was getting a sibling she could play with [right away], so she was not happy at all … With Elyssa, I see how her face lights up when Annabelle looks at her. It is amazing to see that bond that is already there…

What advice would you give to someone going down the surrogacy path? 

I’d definitely say, “Do it … If you can afford to do it and you want to do it, do it.” I have not one bad thing to say about the experience.

What attitudes did you experience in response to surrogacy? 

I think people are really blown away, obviously, by Rachel’s kindness … You will always get people who say things like, “Oh, you just went and bought a baby” … There’s nothing you can do about it. For us and for our family, this is like an amazing dream come true … If I could have adopted, I would have, but … adoption laws need to change because they’re so backward. Surrogacy laws need to change, they are just as backward …  I would like to see it become legal and I would like to see paid surrogacy become legal.

Where do you see yourselves in five years’ time? 

I don’t know, I think I’m still so obsessed with having a baby. I said to Marcus today, “I could have another one.” He was like, “Are you mental?”

Congratulations on your new frozen smoothie range, Super Green Smoothies. 

We’ve been working on that for about three years now … I had been doing smoothies for ages, and to really do them well, in a sense that you’re being efficient with your time and with your money, you need a prep day … I had this light bulb [moment]: I was like … why can’t you just buy it ready done? And then you can just add the liquid, like I would at home … We really agonised over making sure that everything is in there that you need, so that you’ve got this great big shot of health.

How do you juggle it all? 

There just always is someone unhappy. If you’re spending lots of time at home, then someone at work is unhappy. If you’re spending too much time at work, then someone at home is unhappy. And it’s very hard. For a long time, I drove myself crazy trying to make this perfect set routine … Now I’m like, “Oh, I give up” .. I really just roll with each day as best I can …

When do you head back to work [on Channel 7’s afternoon show The Daily Edition]? 

I go back at the end of August … I popped in a couple of weeks ago to introduce Elyssa to the team … The adrenaline rush comes back and it’s funny … that buzz of live TV, there’s nothing like it.

What do you love most about live TV? 

It’s not pre-recorded, and then if something happens, it’s just on. It’s unfolding as you speak … You realise there’s more to the world than the small little bubble that you live in, and that’s actually really quite exciting … To be a part of it and to be able to share it, it’s amazing.

What has been your biggest pinch-me moment in your TV career? 

In terms of celebs, definitely I would say Jon Bon Jovi, just because it’s like that was the era that I grew up in. I went to every Bon Jovi concert. The whole time the 13-year-old in me was like, “I cannot believe that this is happening”.

BITESIZE

We went to Mr G’s, Intercontinental Hotel Double Bay

We ate Fish Tacos with kingfish tartare, finger lime & flying fish roe; King Crab Sliders with Alaskan king crab, cucumber, celery & lemon aioli; French Beans with smoked bacon & herbs; BBQ Creamed Corn

We drank Still mineral water

Sally wore vintage Levis and a Swiish choker knit

Kate wore Skins and Threads 

Date with Kate, Lifestyle & Social

What really goes on on a Date with Kate

19th April, 2017

When my friends ask me about my Date with Kates I always say it’s like going on a blind date every single week. Sometimes I might be catching up with a good friend or someone I’ve known from being on the social circuit over the years to someone I’ve never met in my entire life. There are also times where I’m chatting to someone really famous and I will feel like I know them but the first time we’ll meet is on the day. I feel really privileged that I get to chat to so many interesting people and actually have the opportunity to sit down and have a full meal with them.

Before I go on a Date with Kate I’ll choose who I am going to meet. It has to be someone readers will be interested in and can be from different fields such as entertainment, fashion, the theatre and sport. As it’s for a newspaper I’ll try and peg it to something timely whether it be a launch, a new TV show or project that the person is working on – it’s important readers will be interested in reading about that person.

After I lock the “date” in I’ll choose where to go. Usually I pick the place but I’ll work around them. I’ll pick a nearby café or restaurant to where they live or work and if they’re staying in a certain hotel then I’ll do it in the hotel to make it easier. I organise the venue, the photographer, and the videographer, so all they have to do is turn up for a meal or coffee with me.

On the day I’ll go up to them and say hello if they’re already a friend or acquaintance or introduce myself if we’ve never met. We’ll sit down, look at the menu and order so we can chat uninterrupted. I also make sure that the we grab a photo of the two of us before we start eating so the food looks nice. Once we’ve got the shot or the video, I’ll start recording the interview on my phone. Sometimes the chat will only go for 20 minutes other times I’ll end up with a recording that goes for almost three hours. It just depends on how much time the person has. There have been times where I’ve just grabbed a quick coffee with someone as they’ve got such a tight schedule and other times where we’ve sat down for a meal for an entire afternoon.

I’ve become a pro at small talk and can keep the conversation going but sometimes I do have to deal with awkward moments between questions where there might be silence. This is why I always thoroughly research the person I’m meeting so I have a few talking points in my head. It’s important to be prepared and have something to discuss with the person should there be a lull in the conversation.

As I said I feel really lucky to be able to have a job that allows me to simply chat to people and have them tell their story. I’ve heard so many interesting stories over the years and have had so many lovely experiences meeting new people that I’m always really grateful for the opportunity to write about it. It’s probably one of the few times when blind dates go really, really well!

You can check out my Date with Kates past and present here.

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Brooke Satchwell

2nd April, 2017

Dining with Brooke Satchwell at Mercado 

 

Brooke Satchwell rose to attention playing Anne Wilkinson on Neighbours and most recently has been in the series Wonderland and a regular panellist on Dirty Laundry Live. The actor, 36, chatted to me about the virtual “mixed martial arts” of her latest role, chasing storms and some misconceptions from headlines about her.


What is a day in the life of you? 

I quite often attempt to achieve a lot and I write up my day in five-minute increments, including “Brush your teeth”… I call it high-functioning OCD [laughs] … Strangely, during the process of The Play That Goes Wrong, that has infected my planning … Literally within 10 minutes of what I had planned to do, it will be something bloody different. Like I said, then there are great exercises for adaptability and surrender, and it has done the job really beautifully.

What can the audience expect from The Play That Goes Wrong? 

They can expect a bloody good belly laugh … I have not loved the job like this for decades. This is one of those ones where I get so excited, no matter how battered and bruised and exhausted I am.

Why is the show so physically demanding? 

Well, with one of my new all-time-favourite humans, Tammy Weller, who plays Annie, in the production, our characters engage in what you could call essentially mixed martial arts for the last 15 minutes of the show …  We are rolling ourselves around at breakneck speed, every night, nine shows a week, four times over the weekend, and there is pretty much not a surface on me that hasn’t been tenderised at this point … I use arnica cream as body moisturiser at the moment.

Have you ever had such a physically demanding role? 

Not to this degree, no.

What do you love most about making people laugh? 

It feels so good. I mean, think of it like: anytime you are sitting with a mate and you just set each other off … how good does that feel, that connection, that joy? … It always comes back to that presence, being so present in the moment of being. That’s what makes us free, that’s what we are all chasing, no matter how we try to find it, whether we base jump, build computers, obsess over model trains, whatever it is that brings out joy.

What is the biggest challenge in comedy?

There is such a rhythm and a tempo that is kind of so delicate that it is immensely tricky. But, again, it’s so awesome when you achieve it because it’s like a ballet of connection with the audience.

You have worked in TV, stage and film. What is your favourite medium to work in? 

I love them all. Television I love because there is that continuity of the work, you get to have a consistent engagement with a group of people, collaborating [over an] extended period … Obviously with theatre, the immediacy of reaction … and the wildly different responses that that can elicit from an audience is a really fascinating thing to play with.

Did you ever have a desire to work overseas? 

No, no, not at all. I wondered for a long time whether that was based in fear or not but – I mean really, yes, there possibly is a greater wealth of professional options, particularly I guess in the US market, or UK … You’re essentially going over for a lot more notoriety or greater financial gain, and neither of those things float my boat.

After 20 years in the industry, what do you get most recognised for? 

Traditionally it was Neighbours but strangely, lately, it’s Dirty Laundry.

What did you learn from working on a show like Neighbours? 

There is no other series on television that churns out that amount of minutes, screen time, per week … I learnt incredible professionalism, and that is something they don’t teach in drama schools.

What did you learn from your time on Play School? 

To be so open and so present is actually, as an adult, remarkably taxing because there are so many conditions and habits that fight against being that vulnerable.

You recently shared that you heard a Neighbours producer criticise your appearance at 17. How do you feel about this years later? 

Oh, bless the Daily Mail. He was lovely … The producers that I work with are fabulous and this is the fascinating thing that tends to occur with certain sentences that can be — that was a comment that was made. It was by no means shaming, it was a passing [comment] …

You have also spoken out about domestic violence. What would be your advice for someone suffering from a violent relationship? 

[The comments] get wholly misinterpreted, they get grabbed as soundbites and the true context or the integrity of what you are trying to say is lost, and I personally have never consciously gone out to make a statement about domestic violence, because for a very extensive period of time I’ve actually gone through the process of what that actually entails for an individual to come to terms with … One of the biggest issues is letting go of the potential or the perception of what would have been. I think the illusion is one of the most destructive things, that pull to constantly kind of go, “But what if?” That is part of a trap.

Do you hope to be acting for rest of your life? 

Yes, but I hope I’m doing a billion other things as well … I’m quite excited that some of the prospects are opportunities for me to go back to writing, which was something I did prior to getting into acting. I thought that was kind of my main focus.

If you hadn’t gone down the entertainment path, what would you be doing? 

I would really like to be a meteorologist. I’m a massive storm chaser. I really want to go to Tornado Alley one day.

 

WE WENT TO Mercado, Ash St, CBD

WE ATE 6 month aged jamon; Haloumi, fig & honey; Chickpea puree, flat bread; Cauliflower salad, pinenuts, pomegranates & labne; Soft shell crab bun, harissa & aioli; Roasted carrots, almond dukkah, tea soaked currants­­

WE DRANK Sprtiz De La Casa and La Mandarina

BROOKE WORE a Ginger & Smart dress

The Play that goes Wrong will be playing from the 5th of April in Sydney at the Roslyn Packer Theatre. http://theplaythatgoeswrong.com.au/tickets/

 

 

Date with Kate, Lifestyle

Date with Kate: Lee Watson

26th March, 2017

Lee Watson and I enjoying lunch at 1821

 

Lee Watson (nee Furlong) is a TV sports commentator who is married to Australian cricketer Shane Watson. Lee and Shane recently teamed up with the original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, to create Let’s Activate, a children’s program involving music to help them improve their motor skills. The 30-year-old talks to me about where her love of sport comes from, the challenges of touring and why her lifestyle is less glamorous than it may seem.

What’s a day in the life of you?

I’ve got two beautiful children, Will and Matilda, they feature heavily in my day … Now that we’ve launched Let’s Activate, I’m really busy with that … We’ve got five locations throughout Sydney and we’re hoping to expand really quickly. So by midyear we’re going to move interstate and then, the plan is, next year focus overseas.

Tell me about Let’s Activate. 

They are kids’ clinics teaching little ones [aged 2 to 6] the basic skills of sport through music, dance and movement… [Kids] learn so easily when there is music and repetition, so we’ve got the lovely Greg Page … as part of our team. He has written all the music for our program.

How did you get Greg involved? 

Shane just contacted [him] through LinkedIn and we knew that he was a [cricket] fan. Greg jumped at the opportunity. He is really passionate, like we are, about children and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. He has six kids … So between us there are eight … They’re guinea pigs for our program and they’ve been able to trial and test our program over the last couple of years.

What has been the biggest challenge with setting up the business? 

Finding the time for everything … And everything is new to me. I love learning along the way and every day is a new day.

Where did your sporting passion come from? 

A little girl, sitting on the lounge with my dad watching the rugby league … I’ve loved sport from an early age. I used to coach little kids …  I always knew I wanted to get into sport in one way or another.

What has been the biggest pinch-me moment in your career? 

It would be interviewing some of my favourite tennis players, such as Roger Federer. He is an absolute gentleman on and off the field, and an amazing athlete.

Will you ever go back to sports commentating? 

At the moment, no. I’m really comfortable. Probably two months before we launched Let’s Activate there was a job opportunity on TV and I thought about it for a couple of weeks. I realised that for us to get Let’s Activate up and running, we really needed to dedicate ourselves 24-7.

As a commentator, what was your favourite sport to cover? 

Definitely the tennis … I travelled to Wimbledon and the US Open … I absolutely loved what I did but now my life has changed … My husband is away for six months of the year … so I want to make sure that someone is home with the kids.

What is it like to be married to an international cricket star? 

The team seems to travel a lot. I would be lying if I said it was a really glamorous lifestyle … it’s not. Travelling with two kids in small hotel rooms [is hard] … However, we are welcomed everywhere we go … We can travel on the team bus and stay in the same hotel … We are on tour four months of the year and the kids love it.

Are you looking forward to Shane retiring? 

I am now, with Let’s Activate, so he can be more hands-on … He will be coming to the clinic and helping us out with the program …I’m really proud of what he has been able to do with playing at the top level … and hope it continues.

What is Shane like as a dad? 

He is incredible … The bond he has with his kids is amazing … I guess all athletes have a choice in how much they want to see their family on tour … From day one he has always wanted Will and Matilda there when they can be … He is perfectionist at cricket and as a dad, too.

What do you love the most about being a mum? 

The mornings, because I love the cuddles and kisses you get in the morning. I feel so lucky to be a mum. It has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world … but the most rewarding … They are always happy to see you. Sometimes your partner isn’t always happy to see you [laughs].

What was it like to be a mum second time around with the birth of your daughter Matilda? 

I’m more laid back; I know what I am doing and not sweating the small things.

Do you have plans to grow the family? 

If you asked me a year ago, I would have said yes, we are going to have a third … At the moment, though, probably just the two … With Will and Matilda we feel our family is complete … Touring with three kids would be very challenging.

What is next? 

Growing the business and expanding to Brisbane and Melbourne … We are even having some preliminary talks with people in India.

What is success to you? 

Being happy and looking forward to what you are doing … even the little things!

 

TERM 2 BEGINS APRIL 24 AND RUNS FOR 10 WEEKS

Two to three-year-olds = $11 per session

Three to four-year-olds, four to six-year-olds = $22 per session 

letsactivate.net

 

BITESIZE

We went to 1821, Sydney

We ate Sesame Crusted Haloumi – Hot quince syrup, confit cherry tomatoes, dried kalamta olvives; Ouzo Cured Salmon – Skordalia, paximadia crumb, toasted almonds, mulberry & pomegranate dressing; Greekslaw Salad – cabbage, carrot, currants, mind, toasted almonds, spiced corn, graviera, buttermilk aioli.

We drank Mineral water

Lee wore Rachel Gilbert

 

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Braith Anasta

19th March, 2017

Fox Sports Commentator, Braith Anasta and I enjoying lunch at Bistro Moncur, Mosman

Braith Anasta is a former rugby league player who has represented NSW and Australia and won a premiership with the Bulldogs in 2004. The 35-year-old chats to me about his new job as a sports commentator, how things are going with new girlfriend Rachael Lee following his split last year from Jodi Anasta (nee Gordon), and how he balances his busy schedule with his three-year-old daughter, Aleeia.

What’s a typical day for you?

In the off-season, a typical day is spent with Aleeia … I spend a lot of time with her, whether it’s going to the beach, the park … During the rugby season my weekend is consumed still with rugby league … either calling games or we’ve got a 24-hour channel this year at Fox … I’ve [also] got a show with Tara Rushton, which is called League 13-to-1.

Braith and daughter Aleeia. Picture: @braith_anasta

 

Did you always envisage that you would go into commentating after footy? 

I did … I thought I  had the potential and I enjoyed the media because I’ve had so much to do with the media … I had to do a lot of interviews when I was coming through the grades, so I got comfortable in front of the camera and then I really enjoyed it.

 

What do you love most about commentating? 

I love the challenge, the excitement of live TV – you need to get it right. I enjoy it a lot because it’s a job where you can improve a hell of a lot, and also I’d love to host one day.

What’s the secret of being a good commentator? 

Well, it’s a bit premature for me to say it because I’m only early days but, I think, it’s honesty … Tell it how it is without obviously being too harsh … [The audience] see straight through you if you’re being biased … Even if it’s one of your best mates who plays and he does the wrong thing, you’ve got to be critical of him.
Have you ever upset anyone by your commentary? 

I wouldn’t know, they haven’t told me! [Laughs] … We’re all young, we all play – I mean I’ve had some good games and some horrible games. The older you get, you understand that it’s part and part of the business you’re in. You’re going to be judged and you can’t really do anything about it.

 

Who do you look up to in the commentating arena?  

Growing up, I loved Gus [Phil Gould]. A lot of people have different opinions about Gus, but I actually think he is a great judge of the game. It’s unbelievable. Peter Sterling as well. I think he is so smart, got a lot of class the way he handles it all too … And Greg Alexander… he is fantastic and probably along the lines of where I would like to head down that track.

How is life after footy? Do you miss playing? 

I actually don’t. I know that sounds unusual, but I don’t because of the job I’ve got at Fox Sports … because I’ve made that move into a job that I’m still very much involved with the game. I still get a kick out of all I do … I think I was ready to retire.

 
So you don’t ever plan to come out of retirement? 

No way in the world [laughs]!

Braith and new girlfriend, Rachel Lee. Picture: @braith_anasta

 

How do you juggle your work commitments with Aleeia? 

It has been a bit of a challenge with the 50-50 [share]. The relationship [with Jodi] is all smooth, which has made it, I suppose, easier. But I have [Aleeia] a lot, which is unbelievable. I’m a lucky dad because a lot of dads in that situation miss out.

Living in separate cities, how do you make co-parenting work? 

Yeah it’s good … Jodi is very busy. She is in Melbourne a lot with Neighbours. So we’ve been making sure when she is back in Sydney, she is with Aleeia as much as she can be.

 

Braith and new girlfriend, Rachel Lee celebrating Aleeia’s birthday . Picture: @braith_anasta

Can you share anything about your new girlfriend Rachael Lee? 

I’m happy to but I don’t want to talk too much about it because I like to be as private as I can be.

How is the relationship going? 

It’s fantastic… It really is. It couldn’t be better, really … We’re really happy and life is good.

What do you do in your time off, when you’re not working? 

Aleeia – it’s pretty much the answer! I was coaching in my spare time last year. But because Fox is so busy …I can’t do the coaching any more, which I’m disappointed about. I still want to be able to coach if I can down the track, depending on how everything goes with the commentating.

In your footy career what was your biggest career highlight? 

Definitely winning the Premiership, 2004, with the Bulldogs, you can’t replace that no matter how many amazing times you have throughout your career, that’s the pinnacle. You can’t beat it. The Roosters, being captain; and one game, where I kicked a field goal in the semi-final. That doesn’t sound like much, but at the time it was.

What NRL team do you support? 

It’s funny, that. To be honest, I love the Roosters and Bulldogs and I always will. I’ve got a soft spot for both. I was coaching at the Roosters, last couple of years. So I find myself still involved in the club.

What would you be doing if you never went down the career path of football? 

Well, I wanted to be a fireman … Apart from that, my dad was a panel beater, so I could have been a panel beater, and we owned a restaurant, so I could have been working in a restaurant. So I think I picked the right avenue!

 

BITESIZE

WE WENT TO Bistro Moncur, Mosman
 
WE ATE Pan Fried Barramundi Fillet, Mashed Peas, Creme Fraiche & Confit Spring Onion, Sunflower Seed & Caper Beurre Noisette; Vine Ripened Tomato Salad

WE DRANK Mineral Water

BRAITH WORE Messini suit and shirt.

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Guillaume Brahimi

5th March, 2017

Guillaume Brahimi spent 12 years looking after the restaurant Bennelong at Sydney Opera House from 2001 and now runs three bistros around Australia, as well as being a partner in the Four in Hand, Paddington. The 49-year-old chatted to me about the best and worst parts of being a chef,  the secret to having a top restaurant, and why he doesn’t want his daughter to follow in his footsteps.

What’s a day in the life of you?

I am up around 5.30, I normally go for a swim. I come home, take the kids to school. The school run – that’s my pleasure because I travel a lot, so if I’m not in Perth or Melbourne, when I’m in Sydney I do the kids run. After that I go straight to the restaurants to George Street to Bistro Guillaume … I give them help in the kitchen then do the lunch service. I try to go to the gym between lunch and dinner and after that I go back to the restaurant.

You’re involved in Taste of Sydney. Tell me about the festival.

I think Taste of Sydney is a great way to showcase the trend of Sydney dining and, being in Centennial Park, it’s amazing … The idea is spending an evening or an afternoon with friends and being able to taste lots of different food … with a couple of glasses of wine.

What is Sydney food to you?

Delicious … I think Sydney, we are becoming a destination … We used to be a place when you’re saying, “I am going to New York, I am going to Milan, Paris, London to see the trend.” Let me tell you, we keep going there because it’s nothing wrong going to Paris or New York or London, but you come back to Sydney and you’re saying, “We’re right up there.”

How do you think Sydney restaurants compete on a world stage?

Yes they are up there, and better! We’ve got the produce, we’ve got the talent, we’ve got the city. There is no doubt Sydney is the destination of food, wine and talent.

It is an end of a chapter with the closure of your Paddington restaurant. How do you feel about this?

Very simple: the lease was finished and I wanted to concentrate on my bistros … So it was a very simple commercial decision [to close].

What do you enjoy the most about being a chef?

Well, eating [laughs]! No, what I enjoy the most is make people happy. Everybody thinks running a kitchen and being a chef is stressful but I enjoy the service. But there is no better satisfaction for me seeing an empty plate coming in my kitchen.

What’s the worst aspect of being a chef?

Seeing a plate coming back full! You have one complaint and that will ruin your day. I think we are perfectionists, we want so much – we are here to make people happy.

How do you deal with tricky customers?

I send them to other restaurants [laughs]! No, no, there is nothing more satisfying than when you see somebody who arrives cranky and you can turn them around, and they leave happy.

What is the secret to having a top restaurant? 

I’m still looking for it, but I think never compromise.

What do you never compromise on?

On quality of the produce, never compromise on your ethic, like the love of the work well done. We say in French: l’amour du travail bien fait; never take that away from the moment you get up and the moment you go to work. I want to be a perfectionist and respect the produce. And never sleep on yesterday, always try to get better, always try to get better and lead by example. You are as good as your weakest person in the kitchen.

Do you miss operating Guillaume at Bennelong? 

I will be crazy to say I don’t miss it. I did not for few years – it took me time when I wanted to have a break, but it was such a special building.

What are some of the favourite Sydney restaurants besides your own? 

We are so lucky, we’ve got so many great restaurants … I love Sean’s Panorama in North Bondi. I think a perfect afternoon is lunch at Sean’s Panorama. We love going to Bistro Moncur, but if I have a night off, I love cooking at home.

What is your go-to dish when cooking at home? 

If I was just listening to my kids, it would be just pasta and cheese and burgers! But I just like simple things: beautiful salad, piece of fish, roasted chicken. And it’s good because why I love cooking at home is I have a glass of wine, I’ve got the produce on the table and I just relax, I am in my zone, I am happy. It’s a luxury time.

Do you think any of your children will follow in your footsteps? 

My eldest – she is a very good cook … She is turning 17 and she has got it. But I don’t want her to cook.

You don’t want her to go into the industry?

No.

Why?

It’s a hard industry. But I get great pleasure of seeing her buying produce, cooking food and all of that. It’s amazing.

What’s next for you?

I think in 2017 – we just opened the bistro in the city. I want to focus with all my endorsements, I want to focus with my three bistros – Perth, Melbourne, Sydney – and I think that is enough on the travelling side. And I want to focus with Four In Hand and just making sure I am there for my team when they need me.

What are your plans for the new Bistro Guillaume Sydney?

To make it successful [laughs] …

Do you have plans to open more venues?

Not for the moment, I have enough on my hands.

As a chef, how do you keep getting better?

Just by being excited and always challenging yourself and listening to your team.

If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? 

Firstly I would have loved to be a rugby player, but I would have loved to be in emergency as an ER doctor.

When did you realise that you wanted to become a chef?

At 14 – school was quiet difficult. I’m dyslexic and it was just hard. I don’t have one good memory of school … It was horrible. I was not doing well at school and it was just hard and it was not because I wasn’t trying, so that was the frustrating part of it. So when I decided to be a chef, my parents straight away said, “Great.”

Where did your love of food come from? 

My family, always good food at home. But no chefs in my family, just love for food. We’re a French family.

What is the number one people-pleaser dish?

I think I do pretty good roast chicken with a beautiful salad.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Still doing what I love but just finding a bit more time for my children. I definitely want to spend more time with my children … balanced family life, balanced relationship, balance at work, it is very complicated … Being balanced, I think, it’s the hardest thing, and the day you can say that you’re balanced is the day you are content. I think that’s for everyone.

Taste of Sydney is on March 9 to 12 in Centennial Park.

BITE SIZE

WE WENT TO Four in Hand, Paddington.

WE ATE Marinated Bermigui octopus with broccolini, yuzu mayonnaise and nori; Lamb cutlets with eggplant, fregola, miso and sorrel; Grilled South Australian sardines and pickles.

WE DRANK Sparkling mineral water.

GUILLAUME WORE James Perse t-shirt and pants and Golden Goose sneakers.

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Emeli Sandé

26th February, 2017

Emeli Sandé and I at Din Tai Fung World Square

 

Emeli Sande has topped 4½ million album sales and written songs for Rihanna, Alicia Key and Katy Perry. The Scottish singer recently released the long-awaited follow-up to her debut album Our Version of Events, which was Britain’s biggest-selling album of 2012, beating Adele’s 21. Sande, 30, talks to me about fame’s highs and lows, why she doesn’t use her first name, and the best advice she received from Alicia Keys.

What are you doing in Australia? 

I am promoting my music and it’s my first time here.

What was your first break in the music industry? 

I started as a writer, so I feel like that is how I got my foot in the door, but my big break as an artist, I featured in a song called Diamond Rings with [British rapper] Chipmunk – that was my first top 10. And then when I released a song called Heaven – that was my first ‘OK, I’m here by myself’. So when Heaven came out, I felt like I got rolling.

Have you always wanted to be an entertainer? 

Yes – since I was a kid I used to listen to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Nina Simone. I just always knew I wanted to be a singer. I studied medicine. I would have loved to have done that as well, but music was always my big passion and my one big dream.

Do you prefer writing or performing? 

I think you have to have an equal balance because sometimes you’ve been in the studio so long with the same people and you’re over-thinking a lot of things – but equally, I love them both.

Do you have a pre-show ritual? 

I try and just get everyone to chill out because we rehearse so much and then people can get a little bit nervous before going on stage, so we just try to chill. I like incense; we have a little prayer before going on stage, just try to get in the zone.

You are based in London. What is a typical day for you there? 

Well, I have a studio in my basement, so usually I wake up, listen to what we did last night. I don’t know, but I live in Shoreditch, which has a lot of bars, restaurants. So yes, I’ll hang out there and make music most of the days.

What was your childhood like, growing up in Scotland? 

Quite quiet and very peaceful. I could spend time focusing on school and music because it wasn’t a big city to distract you from anything. So looking back, I think I did take it for granted how beautiful the scenery was and how beautiful the whole thing was. But then, as you get older, you start to realise you are pretty lucky.

What has been the biggest change in your life since finding fame? 

Travel. So far we have been in Uganda, Los Angeles, and now we are here, and that is just this year. So I feel so lucky I can see different cultures and people. That is the biggest change.

What is the best and the worst thing about being famous? 

The best thing is hearing stories about what the songs have meant to people. It is always just a great reminder to keep doing what you’re doing. And the worst thing is, I usually look really scruffy and a bit, like, downtrodden, so when people recognise me, some people are like, ‘You look so much like Emeli Sande’, and I’m like, ‘I am her!’ [laughs].

Is it true you decided against using your real name Adele Sande, due to Adele’s growing success? 

Yes, I didn’t have to but I did feel like I wanted my own name, and she was really like big then even … My grandmother’s name is Emily, so I kind of feel like I am representing that. She is the original Emily Sande in Zambia, and now I get to spread it a bit further.

Have you got used to people calling you Emeli? 

Yes, my mum and my sister still, and everyone that knew me before, call me Adele, but I kind of feel like it helps me get into entertainer, work mode.

You have collaborated with amazing singers and producers; who have you enjoyed working with the most?

Naughty Boy, I love working with him. Labrinth was amazing when we did Beneath Your Beautiful. Alicia Keys, I have been a fan of hers since I was about 13. So I went to New York to work on her album a few years ago and it was so surreal, like we were on this rooftop and she was showing me her whole life in New York.

Who is on your bucket list to collaborate with? 

I would love to write a song for, and even perform with, Beyonce. I would love to work with Kanye West.

What has been your biggest career highlight so far? 

There is a songwriting award in the UK called Ivor Novello. When I was growing up, I was like: that is an award I really want to get and work for. So when I got that for Clown and Next To Me, that felt like a really good achievement. Singing for the [London] Olympics was amazing.

What was that like? 

Pretty nerve-racking, but it just felt so amazing to be part of something so poignant, and it was such a big thing to be a British culture representative in that way – kind of an honest reflection of London and Britain. It was a really important moment that I’m proud of.

What has been your biggest pinch-me moment? 

Performing in front of the Obamas and Carole King – they were literally sitting there and I was singing an Aretha Franklin song with some of Aretha Franklin’s original band. So it was always, like, pretty mind-blowing.

Do you plan to come back to Australia? 

Yes, if this trip goes well and everyone likes the performance I would love to come back.

What has been the best advice you have been given? 

Once, a couple of years ago, I rang up Alicia Keys – she has kind of become like a mentor to me, like a big sister that I could call and ask questions. She said, ‘Emeli, I’m going to tell you something Oprah Winfrey told me … Oprah said, ‘I had spent my whole life searching for something and finding it in me’ and at the time I was like, ‘OK, hopefully I will understand what that means’ … Unless you take time to really work on yourself and build your own self-confidence and self-love, then you are kind of always going round in circles. I feel I fully understand it now.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

I hope I have a couple more albums and hopefully have some kids. I hope I would have spread my music around the world. I would love to have it as far and wide a

BITESIZE

WE WENT TO Din Tai Fung, World Square

WE ATE Pork Dumpling / Xiao Long Bao; Vegetable and Pork Jiao Ze; Vegetarian Jiao Ze; Crab Meat and Roe with Pork Dumpling

WE DRANK Lychee Mint Freeze

Photography by Edwina Pickles

 

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Suzi Quatro

12th February, 2017

Enjoying a catchup with Suzi Quatro before her Leather Forever tour

 

Suzi Quatro is an American rock singer and songwriter. Inspired aged six by Elvis Presley, she had her first hit singles in the 1970s and has been called the first female bass player to become a rock star. Quatro, 66, talks to me about why she is back in Australia, what inspires her, and what it takes to make it as a entertainer.


Tell me about the tour. 

It’s a Leather Forever Encore tour and I wasn’t coming back to Australia again … [but] I was like a drug addict and the buzz wore off and … I just couldn’t stand [being away] any more.

What is it about Australian audiences that you love? 

It feels like family…that we’ve grown up together … I can’t explain it any better than that – it’s just there is a synergy between us.

What can the audiences expect from the show? 

It’s unusual this time because about 10 years ago my husband, who is a promoter, had the idea to put himself and Andy Scott from The Sweet and Don Powell from Slade together in a supergroup and it didn’t happen. And then about two years ago it happened. So we made an album – half covers, half originals, just released on Sony – and then after the show was already booked, my husband then said, “Why not QSP, Quatro, Scott and Powell? Why don’t you guys be the opening act?” So I made opening act, which is nuts … It is, it’s like 27 songs a night. So that’s a lot.

Do you have a pre-show ritual? 

Yes, I get to the dressing room first, then I have to, in this order, hang my clothes up on the rail, put my boots up, everything is in order. Then I put my towel that I brought from the hotel on the table and put up with a little bit of makeup… then I get my deck of cards because in that 20 minutes before you go on stage I play Solitaire … I’m not really thinking about the game, I’m just like I’m a robot, so it makes me relax because that’s the most vulnerable moments, just before you go out.

What do you do when you know you’ve got to win over a crowd? 

You look at them, you feel them, you see where each group of people is, where the hardcore are, where a lot of the convinced are, where the youngsters are, you find them and you talk to them, until they’re all looking. You just give them what they need, whatever part of you they want, you try to feel that and you give it back.

What is it about rock music that you love? 

It’s natural … A lot of people have told me that it’s very authentic with me.

Did you always know you’re going to be in entertainment? 

From six years old, when I saw Elvis Presley on television. [He was singing] Don’t Be Cruel… [and in] my little six-year-old brain I went, “Oh that’s what I’m going to do”.

How did your music talent develop? 

I was always able to hold an audience… I always could feel that I had everybody in my hands.

You were the first female bass player to become a major rock star. How did you manage to break a barrier to women’s participation in rock music? 

I had a family of four girls and one boy and we were all brought up to be very independent. I don’t think my dad wanted four dependent females. So consequently he pushed us that way: “You’re your own person” and I’ve always been my own person. So because I don’t consider myself a female bass player, I don’t allow anything to come into my sphere…

If you didn’t go down this career path, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t an entertainer, which includes everything, which is the acting, the writing, the TV, I would have probably gone into psychology or [being] a criminal lawyer… I love the way the brain works.

What’s your best advice to someone starting out in industry? 

Do the gigs. The only way to learn this profession is to perform. That’s where you separate the men from the boys.

You’ve had so many hit singles, do you have a favourite?

Out of the ones that I’ve written, there are so many, I couldn’t choose. There is a new one on the new album QSP, called Pain, that is making people cry… I wrote it with Andy and it says we all have to feel pain sometimes, we all got to go there one time, we all have to walk that fine line. So it’s one of those that no matter who you are, you’re going to go through that, nobody escapes. It’s a pretty special song.

What’s your writing process? 

98 per cent of the time, I get the title first because it suggests the instrument I should write it on, because I’m a pianist too and it suggests the tempo, it suggests the mood.

Where do you find your inspiration? 

People. I don’t write fiction. So I write about what has happened to me, my feelings. I mean, I have a poetry book published worldwide called Through My Eyes. So I’m a communicator and a wordsmith, both things together.

When you write a song, do you automatically have a feeling whether it will be a hit or not? 

Yes, you know as you are writing it if it’s going to be good. Sometimes you just finish it to finish the exercise. But this one, I just was playing the guitar to Andy over the phone. I called him at 8 in the morning and I said, “Listen…” So it was one of those: “Listen.” I had to show it. Those moments are great when you know you’ve stumbled on to a truth.

Is it hard to write about your personal experiences and share them with the world? 

I like to do that because I think, especially if they’ve been painful experiences, it turns a painful experience into a gift, almost. You can share with other people.

Who is currently on your playlist?

I love Bob Dylan. In fact, we covered Just Like A Woman on this album. It’s one of the best songs I ever sang in my life. I like a lot of Motown music, I play that a lot, the early ’60s. I love the original rock n roll, I love doo-wop, I love Billie Holiday, Otis Redding. I also like John Legend.

What do you do in your time off? 

I’m a movie-, glass-of-wine girl, with a huge screen, sit back and fly into the movie.

What is your favourite film? 

Gone With the Wind is my favourite. It’s so cliché, but I’ve watched it maybe 200 times and I can actually do the dialogue.

What do you like to do during your time off in Sydney?

My husband and I go to some of the top restaurants. We went to Sepia, we went to Hubert, we went to the Quay, of course.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Jeez, I’ll be 71 then, still playing, but not driving myself crazy. I take it as it comes.

Will you ever retire? 

You slow down. I’m 66 now, I’m not young any more. I’m not chasing youth, either, but I’m still able to go out there. I’m still a viable artist. I still feel like I have something to give. And as long as I have something to give, that’s my job to do that.

Suzi Quatro plays her Leather Forever show on February 14 in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall; $145.40

BITESIZE

We went to Bistro Remy, The Langham Sydney

We ate Soupe Du Jour and Prawn Salad

We drank Mineral Water

Suzi wore a Thierry Mugler tshirt and leather jacket