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Date with Kate

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?



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.


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


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


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

Date with Kate, Lifestyle

Date with Kate: Jonathan Barthelmess

22nd January, 2017



Chef and restaurant owner Jonathan Barthelmess owns The Apollo Restaurant and Cho Cho San in Sydney. His venues are celebrity hotspots, frequented by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Naomi Campbell and Ricky Martin. The 37-year-old launched Cho Cho San in 2014 and Monocle has since rated it fifth among the Best Restaurants of the World. He took the Apollo to Tokyo in March last year and it has been booked out five months in advance. I chatted to him about the challenges of opening his restaurant in Japan and shares his favourite dining hotspots in Sydney.

How did you become a chef and restaurateur?

My grandfather was a chef and I guess my parents just kept telling me, “Don’t be a chef. Don’t be a chef.”

Why did your parents try to dissuade you from this career path?

I guess they thought the hours were unsocial if you want to grow up and have a family and all that kind of stuff.

What were you like as a kid?

As a kid, I was totally not interested in school … My main memory is skateboarding and just being down the beach and surfing all day and getting hot chips and then kicking a soccer ball or football around on the beach and then going for another surf and then going home completely exhausted.

Where did your love of food come from?

I love the art of cooking and I also love the adrenaline when you’re in the kitchen. There is a lot of pressure and you’ve got to feed people in a certain amount of time. You’ve got to be ready to feed the people and to be able to do it at a certain standard. I love the feeling of being able to push yourself and drive yourself.

You have Greek heritage but you began your career in Italian cuisine, how did that come about? 

My cousin had a restaurant [with] her husband. Her husband is from Positano and his family has a restaurant there called Da Adolfo, which you catch a boat to. It’s quite famous. He opened Da Adolfo in the city here and I started doing my apprenticeship there. It’s an Italian restaurant and I just loved the simplicity. You can put something together, and it’s got only three ingredients and it tastes amazing and it’s all about the produce. That just stuck with me, through my career really.

You have two very successful restaurants but with such different cuisines. Where did your love of Greek food and modern Japanese come from?

I always cooked Mediterranean, well, more Italian than anything, for about 16 or 17 years and then I did a charity dinner with a guy called Janni Kyritsis, who was a three-hatted chef. He got three hats his first year and kept it through his whole career … He was like, ‘Why don’t we choose the topic as shared Greek heritage,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know anything about Greek food,’ although my heritage is Greek. And then I started thinking about it and researching what I was going to do for the dinner. I actually did know a lot about Greek food but I just hadn’t associated it [that way] because I had been so focused on Italian.

What was most difficult hurdle you faced when opening Apollo in Ginza, Tokyo?

It was really hard … The biggest thing is the cultural and language barrier, and getting the produce over there was hard. There is plenty of European, like Italian and French products, there but there was no Greek … We had to work with the Greek Embassy and the Australian Embassy to get the right suppliers.

What’s the biggest challenge of running a restaurant in Japan?

Communication is hard. I mean the Japanese are really methodical and very dedicated to their craft. So the product, even from day one, just kind of clicked into gear … I think over the course of three months we probably had about eight, maybe 10 of the Japanese team training in Sydney and then we went over there, worked on it and got the product where it needed to be at that stage and then came back and then we took a team over for the opening …

Do you cook at home?

I love cooking at home. It’s such a different thing. I actually enjoy cooking dinner for my friends more than I like sitting down and eating it. I think another reason why I am a chef is because [cooking] makes me feel good to see someone enjoying it.

What’s your signature dish when hosting a dinner party?

I always go really fresh. It’s always usually protein on the barbecue and heaps of raw vegies, fresh salads … and usually some cheese as well.

When you’re not dining at one of your venues, what is your favourite Sydney restaurant?

There are a few. I love Sean’s Panorama and I love Fratelli Paradiso.

How do you describe a top restaurant?

I think somewhere that makes you feel comfortable… [and] somewhere you can go and relax.

How do you think Sydney restaurants stand up against the big restaurants around the world?

I think Australia is one of the exciting food destinations in the world. We have such a good multicultural [mix] and we have access to such amazing ingredients … So many of our young chefs and up-and-coming chefs have travelled so much and worked with so many people around the world and bringing back their own personalities and getting in touch with their heritage…

How do you deal with tricky customers?

We just try to make them walk away happy, no matter how we have to turn it around. The goal is for them to leave and be happy even if something unfortunate happened or they haven’t liked something or whatever. Mistakes happen when you’re feeding so many people, not very many, but they do.

What’s next for you?

This year is all about getting better at what we do and refining our brands.

What do you do when you relax?

Read and eat … I love the beach. Going up to the northern beaches like Palm Beach or Avalon or something is a very relaxing weekend for me. I love that more than anything.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading Tartine Bakery No. 3 and How Proust Can Change Your Life.



WE WENT TO The Apollo Restaurant, Potts Point

WE ATE Oven Baked Lamb Shoulder with Lemon & Greek Yoghurt and Village Salad With Cucumber, Tomato, Feta & Olives.

WE DRANK Mineral water.

Date with Kate

My favourite Date with Kates in 2016

27th December, 2016

I’m lucky enough to spend time with a lot of really interesting people throughout the year due to my Date with Kate column and 2016 has been no exception. I’ve had plenty of great “dates” this year but these in particular have been my favourites…

Elle Macpherson

Elle Macpherson has always been such an icon of Australian fashion and beauty and I’ve been lucky enough to meet her a few times and interviewed her once before so it was great to be able to catch up with her again. We caught up soon after I had Grace and she’s such an interesting woman that she was definitely one that I wanted to make the effort to see and interview.

Hailey Baldwin

Hailey Baldwin is definitely one of the it girls of the moment and one that I follow on social media so I was curious to see what she was like in person. We actually caught up at her 20th birthday party at Mrs Sippy in Sydney’s Double Bay whilst she was in Australia launching her collaboration with Modelco and had a great time chatting about all things beauty.

Emma Watkins and Lachlan Gillespie

My daughter, Sophia is a huge fan of The Wiggles and watches their show all the time so it was great to be able to hang out with Emma and Lachie. I’ve actually been to so many Wiggles concerts that I’ve now become good friends with the pair. Just to speak with them and how successful they’ve become was quite fascinating.

Zoë Foster Blake

I think Zoë’s fantastic. She’s so talented and incredibly funny and I think an inspiration to women with how much she has achieved in her career from launching her own beauty line to writing several books (with one, The Wrong Girl, being turned into a TV show this year). We had a really lovely time catching up and it was intriguing to hear about all the different projects she is up to.

Bec Judd

I had a great time co-hosting the Australian Marks & Spencer launch with Bec this year and it was nice to be able to do a Date with Kate together just as she had announced she was expecting twin boys. We have a lot in common as we both have young kids and it’s always really interesting hearing about how another mum manages to juggle everything in her work and personal life.

Kristin Davis

I have of course watched Sex and the City numerous times so it was great to be able to meet Kristin Davis during her visit to Australia as part of her work with the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees. We caught up at Flying Fish restaurant in Sydney’s Pyrmont and spoke about everything from playing Charlotte York to why she’s so passionate about campaigning for human rights.

Miranda Kerr

High tea with Miranda Kerr has got to be one of the highlights of the year as far as doing Date with Kates go. She’s always so lovely to speak to and we had a really lovely time discussing being a working mum, her relationship with Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and how she likes to entertain family and friends.

Sigrid Thornton

Sigrid Thornton has long been one of Australia’s most celebrated actresses and we caught up to chat about her role in the production of Fiddler in the Roof. It was fascinating hearing about her 40-year career in film, television and the theatre.

Miranda Tapsell

Miranda Tapsell is one of the most warm and engaging people you’ll ever meet. We had a great time chatting about what it’s like being an indigenous actress and her career highlights to date.

The Veronicas

I enjoyed a really tasty vegan feast with The Veronicas’ Lisa and Jess Origliasso as we spoke about launching their new single and what it’s like dealing with “body shamers” who claim their weight is unhealthy. Having watched their career since 2005 it was great to be able to chat to the twins about how far their career has come.

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate: Jodhi Meares

18th December, 2016

Fashion designer Jodhi Meares has just launched the first stand-alone store for her successful activewear brand, THE UPSIDE, in Mosman. Her designs are stocked around the world and have been spotted on fashion and sports icons including Kelly Slater, Kim Kardashian and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Meares, 45, chatted to me about developing an activewear empire, finding love with her 29-year-old husband, Nicholas Tsindos, and her secret to being a better wife.

Tell me a day in the life of you? 

Gosh, it changes so much. I’m still travelling a lot, I don’t have like a really regular day … [THE UPSIDE] needs a huge amount of attention as it’s still a young company … I read a lot of philosophy and I find that that’s inspiring, for my work. …We really look at THE UPSIDE [as] the Heroine and now we’ve launched men’s, he is the Hero. So, we look at so many aspects of the brand and we talk about it, politically, what she or he stands for, what they might be reading at the moment, what films they’re watching.

What has been the biggest milestone for THE UPSIDE?


I think, days like today when you see it on somebody. To me that’s where I get the most joy, watching it come to life and see somebody enjoying wearing it and playing with the kids on the beach in it.
Why did you decide on Mosman for your first bricks-and-mortar store?


I like to shop on streets, so we were just looking for really good areas that we could do good retail. Mosman was on our list and this shop came up and it was perfect … I’m excited and I know the area because I went to school over here and we think it’s right on point for the brand.


As a designer, where do you get your inspiration?


I look at so many things … When I started developing the [Jocks & Nerds] collection, I was in Paris and we were looking at some of the ghettos of Paris and watching kids play basketball … it’s good to look at things from the street level.


What made you first launch THE UPSIDE?


The evolution really was, I’ve sold Tigerlily [Meares’ bikini brand, sold to Billabong in 2007], I’ve taken some time out, I’m spending a huge amount of time in New York and this phenomenon happens … For me, it started with that one Lululemon Black Legging and it’s what I was wearing at the time and then I was kind of looking for other things because it became such an important part of my wardrobe and just seeing it on the street, it was so there … It just felt so obvious, the gap in the space, that it was like, “You just have to do this. This is such an obvious need” and then, the timing was really perfect.


With so many activewear brands, how do you set yours apart?                                     


We try to stay very true to the philosophies of the brand. I mean there is so much scope in this area: we’re going to launch new categories, which I can’t give away, I wish I could, but because it opened this huge spot, it’s really a lifestyle business.


What did you learn from your experience with your label, Tigerlily?


I’m much more involved in the business now. I think I was very nervous of that with Tigerlily because I had no experience in it … I understand what we need to do, but with Tigerlily I was very nervous and I don’t think that’s a good place to be in business … I had to learn the hard way a lot of times with Tigerlily, [I] really made some big mistakes.


Did you always plan to go into fashion and have your own company?


I did. Tigerlily was an absolute dream. I didn’t know that I would have any success in it … but I am absolutely a bikini nerd, it was my first love … I had an education in that business anyway, I knew pretty much every surf retailer in the country and that’s where Tigerlily started.


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


I don’t know … I probably would have been a yoga teacher I think … I still might be one day!


Congratulations on your marriage to [photographer] Nicholas Tsindos.


Thank you, yes. It was very unexpected, but very wonderful.


What drew you to him?


He has got so many wonderful qualities, but he is incredibly kind and for me kindness is probably at the top of my list.


Your husband often shoots campaigns for THE UPSIDE. What is your advice for mixing business and pleasure?


We get along so well. We’re really great mates, so it’s really nice if you go home and talk to somebody credibly, because I really love my work. I’m a chatterbox. It fully drives Nicholas mad sometimes, but it’s really easy because he has got such a great eye … He is already so close to the creative, he is my husband anyway, so by the time we get to shoot he knows what we’re trying to do.


What are you most proud of?


In the end, it’s about relationships, so probably my relationships with my family and my friends.


What do you think really helped you to grow your commercial ventures?


I think the timing was really, really good; and the right team.


What’s the vision for the brand?


Ultimately, I have a huge vision for the brand and outside of apparel, completely; I can’t divulge any of it just yet.


What do you do to stay fit?


I love yoga, I’m a yogi, and I love to walk and I love to paddleboard when I’m in Hawaii. But really, I’m not a gym person; it feels like going to the office … Some weeks I do yoga every day and sometimes, at the end of a long day, the answer is yoga and some days at the end of the day the answer is a bottle of wine!


What do you do to relax?


Yoga. I think I’m a nicer person, a better boss, probably a better wife, a better friend, better sister when I’m practising yoga, that also makes a difference … I think even if you’re not going there for spiritual reasons, [spirituality] … will happen anyway.


Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I don’t really think in terms of that, I probably should more. I do try to actively stay present in what I’m doing … There is that old saying that if you live in the past you’ll be depressed, if you live in the future [you’ll be] anxious, and if you live in the now you’ll be peaceful and I think that’s true, so I don’t really think about it too much.



We went to Public Dining Room, Balmoral Beach

We ate Hermosa Kingfish Carpaccio with pine nut puree, grapefruit, radish and puffed quinoa

We drank Still mineral water

Jodhi wore Celine pants, JBrand top and Chloe shoes.


Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Guy Sebastian

4th December, 2016
Date with Kate: Kate Waterhouse and Guy Sebastian at The Bathers Pavillion in Balmoral, Sydney. 10th November 2016 Photo: Janie Barrett

Catching up with Guy Sebastian at The Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral Beach


Guy Sebastian has built on his Australian Idol win in 2003 to become an enduringly popular performer. He recently finished as a judge on television’s The X Factor and is now working on a new album. Sebastian, 35, chatted to me about fatherhood, the tragedy behind his latest single, and why he’s no longer trying to please everyone.

What are you working on?

My new album. I finished part one just a few days ago and I’m kind of continuing to work on part two, which will be released after … I’m mainly writing, recording, building a home and working on my next tour – that’s pretty much my life.

What was your inspiration behind your new single Set In Stone?

It’s a bit of a sad one. I was in Bali and there was an accident right in front of me, and it was a fatal crash in the end. I ended up on the side of the road holding this kid’s hands as he took his last breath and it affected me quite a lot … Later on that night I started to process [it] and I started to write and that’s how the melody came about.

Did you see this song as a tribute to this person?

Not really. When I wrote it, it was actually about family, my kids, Jules [his wife] … It was basically saying the things “set in stone” – the people that are there forever.

Did you enjoy this season of The X Factor?

I always enjoy it; I always enjoy being part of something that affects lives. It does definitely give people a big boost … I look at Sammy [Samantha Jade] and she was doing stock take in a warehouse and she has this amazing voice; and Johnny Ruffo, who was a concreter in Perth and he’s become quite a personality now; and Reece Mastin, who’s touring all over the place and recording amazing music. Also the people like Dami [Im] and myself who went on a show like this and hopefully prove to people that we deserve a spot in the industry. It’s been a really, really good journey thus far.

What was it like to work with Iggy [Azalea]?

I’ve really, really enjoyed being on the panel with Adam [Lambert] and Mel B [Brown]. We’ve had a lot of fun and I will miss them.

How has reality TV changed since your time on Australian Idol?

It’s changed so much. When I did Idol, it was a first. We didn’t know what we were getting into. I was this weird-looking chubby guy with an afro – and all of a sudden, I had people camped outside my house with signs “I love Guy”. Now it’s an avenue to get into the industry; the “reality” has been taken away a little bit.

Who are your musical mentors and influences?

… Sam Cooke and definitely Otis Redding, who were probably the two reasons I got into music in the first place. In my teens I really got into the Beatles and I listened to a lot of gospel music as well.

How do you define success?

Knowing that what you’re doing at the moment is what you’re supposed to be doing. Not sitting wishing you were doing something else.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career?

I would say just learning that I can’t please everyone. In normal life you don’t have many people that are staunchly against you … Suddenly I became famous … and everyone was kind of at me. I came from a pretty sheltered background who went to church and then suddenly the church people were up at me and I wasn’t churchy enough, and then the industry was at me that I wasn’t wild enough. And so I was just in this mode of desperately trying not to offend anyone. I found after a while I was OK with being who I am and people don’t actually know me, and I think that was the best thing to do.

What else do you want to achieve in life?

I would love to do what I’m doing forever, whether it be in a studio writing or producing or touring.

What is the best part of your job?

You sit for so long and do such long hours in the studio, you stress about the sound and direction of youralbum. Then you finally release it and see your fans enjoying it and singing back to you, that’s the moment when all your hard work just pays off. I still never get used to it when people cry at my show; it just reminds me about music and the impact it can have on people and the memories it can invoke, and that’s really healing for me.

What is the worst part of your job?

Once again, I think everyone having an opinion on you and trying to please everyone – when not everyone is going to like you.

How do you deal with the negativity?

I’ve just realised that not everyone is going to like you. Also, after having kids, that changes your perspective. What they think of you is the only thing that matters.

How has fatherhood changed you?

It changes you in every way. It gives you a greater purpose in life. You not only worry about them but also the world around them – politically, environmentally, everything!

What do you love most about being a dad?

Cuddles! Doesn’t matter if you’ve had the worst day, everything is OK when you see them.

Will your children follow in your footsteps?

I think Hudson might … they both like to sing but Hudson has better pitch at the moment [laughs].

What have your learnt from your marriage with Jules?

So much. She is amazing, she is so understanding of everything I do.

What is the biggest misconception about what you do?

I think some people think musos are dumb [laughs]. I once had a girlfriend who broke up with me because I was a muso and her dad was convinced I was not going anywhere.

What else are you working on?

I’ve been working really hard with the Sebastian Foundation, which is doing some amazing things … much-needed work across women’s shelters in Sydney and looking to expand across Australia. Domestic violence is a huge ongoing problem [so we are working with a] lot of these [shelter] homes to give them what they need, make it a place that these women can go to feeling safe, loved.


We went to Bathers Pavilion, Balmoral Beach

We ate Caesar salad with garlic croutons and pancetta add grilled peppered chicken; Beetroot cured kingfish with coastal greens cucumber, almonds and caper berries

We drank Acqua Panna natural still mineral water; Apple and beetroot juice

Photo: Janie Barrett

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Michael Clarke

27th November, 2016

Michael Clarke and I at Hublot’s 10th anniversary celebration for their All Black collection

Cricketer Michael Clarke captained the Australian cricket team from 2008 to 2015. He became the 12th Australian to score a century in his Test debut, was awarded the prestigious Allan Border Medal and in 2013 was named the International Cricket Council’s Cricketer of the Year. Clarke, 34, chatted to me about the challenges of being an Australian cricket captain, what he has next in the pipeline and the best advice he ever received from West Indies great Brian Lara.

Now that you are retired, what is a day in the life of you?

As we speak I am commentating full time so my day-to-day schedule is pretty full on. I get up at 5.30am and go do a session in the gym for an hour, I then Facetime my daughter, have breakfast, then off to the ground to commentate. I wrap up commentating around 6pm, then head out to dinner with the boys.

Did you grow up wanting to be the Australian cricket captain? 

Not at all. My dream as a six-year-old boy was to play cricket for Australia, but I never dreamt of captaining our country. In saying that, it was an absolute honour and privilege to be the 43rd Australian Test captain.

What did you find most challenging about being captain?

I think spending time away from your family is always hard, with the way tours are set up now you travel for 10 months of the year. And I think as any leader does in sport or business, when your team doesn’t perform, you take it extremely personal.

Do you have any regrets? 

None whatsoever. I have learnt a lot of life lessons along my journey so far but I’m very happy with what I have been lucky enough to achieve.

What has been the most important life lesson you have learnt so far?

Try to enjoy every day, because life can be so short. Stop and smell the roses along the way.

What is the best advice you have ever been given, and who was it from? 

Brian Lara gave me this saying on a piece of paper that I carried around in my baggy green satchel until the day I retired: before you begin a thing, remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead …You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal! Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin.

What inspired you to write your autobiography, Michael Clarke: My Story?

I wrote my book for my daughter Kelsey Lee. If anything ever happened to me, I wanted her to know who her father was, what I stood for and what my values were. I wanted her to hear about my life from me and not what she might have heard or read in a paper/magazine.

How long did it take to write?

Six months. It was a lot of fun and nice to finally be able to be completely open and honest.

What has been the public reaction to the book?

I think that most people that have read it have been very positive about how honest, self-reflective and self-critical I have been.

The book is very honest about some very public events. Was that easy to do? 

Yes it was, it was nice to be able to sit down and reflect on my life. The past 35 years have been an amazing ride. Plenty of highs and a few lows.

If you didn’t go down the career of a sportsman, what would you be doing?

I would hate to know. That’s why I will always be so grateful to the game of cricket. It has given me everything.

Tell me about your involvement with Hublot. 

I have been an ambassador for Hublot for two years now and it’s an association that I am very proud of. Their words that they live by resonate a lot with me and how I have tried to live my life. Be different, unique and willing to do things first.

What do you enjoy most about fashion?

Fashion allows you to show your own individual style. I believe people should be very proud of who they are and fashion allows them to show that.

What charities are you involved with and why?

I have a great range of charities that I am an ambassador for, all of which are very close to my heart: Life Education, McGrath Foundation, Cancer Council and The Loyal Foundation.

How are you enjoying being on the Channel 9 commentary team?

I have loved it. It is nice to be back in a team environment and talking about the game we love. The guys are fantastic and always good for a laugh.

Is it hard sitting on the other side of the fence?

Not at all. I played for a long time and feel that I retired at the right time as I am very happy with the career that I had fulfilled. I thought I achieved everything I could and now I am able to talk about the game, and help the viewers get a closer perspective of what it’s like out there in the middle.

As a commentator you will be asked to voice your opinion  – good or bad. Does this come easy?

Being honest and calling it how you see it is not hard at all. I always try to be as constructive as I can be, as I remember how hard the game was at the highest level.

What are your plans for Christmas? I assume you will be in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test?

Yes I will be. I will have Christmas day at home with Kyly, Kelsey Lee and my family but will fly to Melbourne that night in preparation for the Boxing Day Test match.

What’s your favourite thing about being a dad to Kelsey Lee? 

Seeing her every morning when she wakes up with a smile on her face and giving her a kiss good night before she goes to sleep, and I love watching her grow and learn new things. She is just such a happy, vibrant little girl. She has me wrapped around her finger already.

What is next in the pipeline for you?

I have my cricket academy in Sydney, which is doing really well, and now with more time on my hands I am able to be more involved, which is great. I am also investing a lot of time into the digital side of my business. I will also keep commentating with the Nine team, and being an ambassador for the amazing companies that I am lucky enough to be associated with keeps me nice and busy.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I would really like some more kids. Family means the world to me and for all of them to be happy and healthy and I would like my business to keep doing well. Ten years is a long time away. I will be cherishing every day.


WE WENT TO Hublot All Black 10th Anniversary dinner at Bay 21 Gallery, Carriageworks

WE ATE Charcoal Rangers Valley Beef Fillet

WE DRANK NV Duval-Leroy Brut, Vertus France and Hennessy VS Cognac

MICHAEL CLARKE Hugo Boss suit and a Hublot watch

Photography: Tim Kindler

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate: Cheyenne Tozzi

20th November, 2016

Cheyenne and I enjoying lunch at Exchange Restaurant & Bar in Darlinghurst


Sydney-born Cheyenne Tozzi began modelling aged 13, moved into TV in 2014 as a mentor alongside Naomi Campbell for The Face Australia and is now a mentor on Australia’s Next Top Model. Tozzi, 27, has also branched into music and this month released Swept Up, the second single from her self-titled debut album. She chats to me about music becoming her main focus, who she thinks will win the Next Top Model finale, and how she “donated” her birthday to the United Nations.

Congratulations on your new single.

Thank you … Swept Up is a soulful summer song that’s all about that feeling of being swept up in love. The response has been really positive. I think most people have experienced that feeling at one stage or another, so they can connect with it.

You are self-trained in singing. How did your love of music come about?

Music is something that I’ve always held close to my heart and it’s been around me for as long as I can remember. I think about some of the best family nights and quite often they’ve involved a piano or a guitar – they’re special memories to hold on to. As for singing, there was always music playing in the house and I’d be humming along. I never went to singing lessons, I wasn’t even really “self taught”, I just sang.

Do you write all your own music? 

All my songs are original, I love writing. It’s pretty cool to be in the studio with the boys [production team Jackie Nice]. With Swept Up, we were in the studio and they had this really cool little riff on the guitar, I started singing and it grew from there and we created this really beautiful song.

Tell me about your album. 

It’s my first solo record. My music is honest and authentic. I think the feel of my genre demands that. It’s soulful. If nothing else, I hope my music makes people feel – whether it’s calm or happiness or the fondness of a memory – I just want people to feel something when they listen to it.

You split your time between modelling, TV presenting and singing. What is your main focus? 

I enjoy everything that I do … I’m lucky to have had a great career in modelling and to have travelled the world meeting inspirational people. I’ve loved being a mentor on ANTM and helping other young girls in my industry, but it’s my music that I’m really passionate about and focused on.

Do you enjoy being a mentor on Australia’s Next Top Model? 

Yes, it’s a great show. We’ve had a really great bunch of girls this year; there are always the temper tantrums and all that nonsense that comes along with having a houseful of 16-year-old girls. And I think we have had some incredible women come on this season, including Miranda Kerr, Elle Macpherson. and just to show girls again what a wonderful career you can create if you’re focused. If you just go 110 per cent and you are worth it, you can go all the way.

What do you love most about being a mentor?

I love that I can be a part of the girls’ dreams in any which way that I can.

Who do you think will win this year’s ANTM and why? 

It’s a tough call, Sabine is incredibly beautiful and unassuming, which people like, but then Aleyna is gorgeous, has the height and all of the tools to succeed.

What’s your advice to the young girls coming up in modelling?

Be nice, and be respectful.

You have donated your birthday to the UN. Tell me a bit about that. 

So you donate your birthday and people donate money to the UN [instead of giving gifts] … My goal was to raise $50,000 but we exceeded that target in two weeks! When you look outside and you read [the news] you think: “If I don’t do anything – not that I can change the world – but you need to make that initial step and maybe I can try and help.”

What was it like to start your career at 13? 

My mum was a model and my aunt was a model, so it’s the environment I was growing up in and knew. I’ve had a great career and I’m still going, I’m still not finished yet in what I want to do.

Is it an advantage or a disadvantage starting so young?

I don’t know … I learnt so much obviously, I’m very street smart, I’m very savvy. I’ve travelled all over the world, but do I think it’s an advantage? I don’t think it’s a disadvantage at all. I’ve had a really wonderful career. I’m not going to now say, “Well, I wish I didn’t do that.” Everyone has their journey and their path.

What would you tell your 13-year-old self now?


What was it like being on The Face? 

The Face was great. I think, the dynamic of the mentors against each other was real and was quite fun. Naomi [Campbell] is fun; Nicole [Trunfio] is a sweetheart.

Are you still in contact with Naomi Campbell? 

Yes, I’ve spoken to Naomi a bit … She is one of those [models] who paved the way for everyone and she is a fantastic woman. I think, people take her wrong sometimes, when they say, “Oh, she is too aggressive” or whatever, but she really is a sweetheart and I think she has every right to be that savvy, awesome woman that she is.

What is your inspiration behind your coming fashion label The Code? 

The Code is coming out early next year. We’re doing a small collection based on all the pieces that I think every girl needs. I want the collection to empower and celebrate women.

Who is a Code woman?

The Code woman would be Michelle Obama, Elle Macpherson, Bella Hadid, my mum, business women, doctors. I think she is like all these women who have just nailed it in life. She’s confident and dressed for success.

Tell me a bit about the collection. 

It’s all key pieces … blazers, pants, suits, beautiful shirts, just basic but beautiful pieces that are affordable.

Where is home for you now? 

Home is where the heart is. Wherever the spaghetti is, I’m there! I live in Sydney and we have five dogs, so I can’t live anywhere else – but we travel all the time.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

Dance-offs. And I’m trying to finesse my baking. I’ve been doing that for fun. That’s my fun thing at the moment and a walk with the dogs. I relax, I just hang out.

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

I think it’s always hilarious when people go, “You’re still alive?” As if I’m like 80 years old! When you’re 27 years old and you start that young it feels like forever. I think my career highlight, I’ve done so many awesome things and travelled the world and just met amazing people.


WE WENT TO Exchange Restaurant & Bar, Darlinghurst.

WE ATE Pan-fried snapper fillet with cherry tomatoes, basil, and zucchini flower; Pea, mint and goats cheese arancini; White & brown anchovy bruschetta; Heriloom tomato & goats cheese panzanella.

WE DRANK Saint Andre “Magali” 2014 Rose.

CHEYENNE WORE Tom Ford shirt and skirt.


Date with Kate, Lifestyle

Date with Kate: Neale Whitaker

13th November, 2016

The Block Judge, Neale Whitaker and I catch up at the Lexus Design Pavilion


Neale Whitaker is a judge on television’s The Block – which airs its season finale on November 13 – and editor of Vogue Living. Whitaker, 54, talks to me about the most frustrating part of being a Block judge, what makes him cringe, and his top tip to quickly rejuvenate any home.

Who do you think will win tonight’s finale? 

Ah, that’s a tough one. The judges don’t have the best form in picking the winner! Auction day is unpredictable and there are so many variables  – the auction order, the reserve prices and basically the depth of the potential buyers’ pockets. All of the apartments offer the luxury of space and an opportunity to live in a heritage building that’s been restored with integrity.

What has been your favourite room from this season and why?

Kim and Chris [Elliot] delivered the ultimate master bedroom with the proportions of a luxury hotel suite. I loved Julia [Treuel] and Sasha [Wright-Neville’s] kitchen, and Will and Karlie’s master bedroom with the wooden panelling was pretty special.

What have you learnt from being a judge?

From the contestants I’ve learned the importance of budget, careful planning and understanding your potential market. From my fellow judges, I’ve learned to see things through an interior designer’s eye – it’s far more detailed than a magazine editor’s eye.

What is the most frustrating element of being a judge on The Block?

When the contestants don’t take our advice and believe they’re being victimised. They’re not! We always try to be constructive and our advice is based on experience and knowledge. We want them to win, not lose.

Why do you think renovating shows have become so popular? 

We’re a nation obsessed with real estate, so the renovation frenzy feels like a logical progression. Renovating is achievable – it’s something we can do to improve our lives and increase the value of our property. There’s definitely a competitive edge there, too, regardless of whether you’re on The Block!

After so many seasons, do room reveals still excite you?

Yes they do! I guess the day they don’t will be the day to hang up my judge’s hat. There is always that sense of the unexpected and of anticipation based on what was delivered the previous week and the advice we offered.

When there is backlash on social media against you, how do you deal with this? 

You have to take it on the chin. That’s all you can do. Or maybe not look. What did Taylor Swift say? “Haters gonna hate.”

How would you describe your own interior style preferences?

It’s a terribly overused word, but eclectic. [My partner] David [Novak-Piper] and I like such a mix of styles and periods but we get a lot of pleasure out of making them all work together to create a home.

What trends make you cringe?

Trends generally make me cringe. That might sound like a strange thing for a magazine editor to say but I believe a home is a really personal thing. I would never buy – or encourage someone to buy – anything simply because it’s on trend.

What is your best advice for first-time renovators?

Plan, budget, plan, budget and then plan again. Just be really sure about what you want to achieve from the renovations. Is it for you or for resale? Be prepared for the renovations to take longer than anticipated and budget for 25 to 30 per cent more than you think you will need.

What are the most popular interior trends at the moment?

Don’t talk to me about trends [laughs]! But, realistically, we’re seeing a lot more colour at the moment and a real emphasis on anything hand-made and hand-crafted. I think we’re also seeing more confidence to mix things up. We’re starting to realise that it’s OK to be individual.

What is a quick fix to rejuvenate your home? 

A new rug is always the best fix for me. When you walk into a room, what’s on the floor is the first thing you register. And think about changing your art and adding a wall mirror. It can double the size of a room. New bed linen is [also] an amazing pick-me-up.

What is a day in the life of you?

Juggling! My main priority is editing Vogue Living, so most days will find me in the office with the editorial team, but I somehow manage to squeeze in quite a few other activities like emceeing and public speaking. Most evenings will find me at industry events, and when we’re filming The Block, I’m in Melbourne every Sunday. Life’s busy.

What led you down this career path? 

Life! I started in the fashion industry, moved into publishing, moved from the UK to Australia [in 1999] and then moved from food magazines to interior design magazines. That’s when I knew I’d found the place where I wanted to be. And then I stumbled into TV! I’ve been very lucky and I’m very grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.

You were an editor of Belle Magazine and now editor at Vogue Living. How has your role evolved? 

A magazine editor’s role is always evolving. Learning to harness the power of digital and social media is challenging and exciting. That’s not something I really had to worry about in my previous role.

What has been your greatest career achievement so far? 

I’m proud of many of the things I’ve achieved in my career. Perhaps I’m proudest of my longevity and managing to stay relevant. I hope I can keep doing that.

D’Marge named you as one of the most stylish men in Australia. What is your style secret?

I’m sorry to say I don’t really have one! I think my personal style is very understated, quite classic, and intuitive. At 54, I feel I know what suits me and I tend to stick with it.

What is your favourite room in your Surry Hills home?

The kitchen – it’s totally where we live our life! And it will be again in the new apartment we’re just about to move to in Alexandria.

Where is your favourite travel destination when you want to escape from Sydney? 

That’s easy. The south coast of NSW. It’s where I recharge and where I feel the most relaxed. I call it my “happy place”.

What are your plans for the holiday season? 

Our favourite thing is a road trip. We love to put our dogs in the car [weimaraners Otis and Ollie] and head off. This year we’re heading to country Victoria for Christmas, then back home via Melbourne and the NSW South Coast.

What is next for you? 

Whatever comes next! I’m enjoying the opportunities that are coming my way but I would love to do more TV. It’s such a powerful way of communicating. Watch this space – that’s all I’m saying!

The Block season finale airs on Sunday, November 13, at 7pm on Channel 9.  


WE WENT TO The Lexus Design Pavilion, Flemington.
WE ATE Raw striped trumpeter with salted turnip, mustard & horseradish
WE DRANK Matua Valley Lands & Legends Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ
NEALE WORE  MJ Bale jacket, shirt and white jeans; P. Johnson Tailors tie and RM Williams boots.