Kate Bracks was 15 minutes late for our interview. Ok, ok, Kate Bracks was 15 minutes late for our interview because fans kept coming up to her as she walked through the grounds of the Noosa International Food & Wine festival, and she didn’t want to be dismissive so she stopped to chat, just a bit, to each of them, then apologised profusely to me once she arrived. Yeah, she really is that nice.
A while back I was sent a copy of 2011 MasterChef Australia Winner Kate Brack’s first cookbook – The Sweet Life. I must say, out of all of the contestants in the 2011 season Kate was my favourite – she just seemed so grounded and, well, genuinely friendly. So when the release stated ‘please let us know if you would like to interview Kate‘ I jumped at the opportunity. Well, jumped at it until I was asked to email through my questions, darn.
But I am nothing if not persistent… We had already planned on heading up to Noosa so when I learned that Kate would be there, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to try to catch her for a few moments. What do you know, but the first day I
found after searching for bumped into her and she was kind enough to agree to a quick chat later in the afternoon.
Kate has been on the go pretty much since she was crowned the 2011 MasterChef winner back in the middle of last year and with all the interviews she has done I still managed to get in one question that she had never been asked – about cake of course – ha!
Now before we get into the interview I have a copy of ‘The Sweet Life‘ to give away to one lucky reader – make sure to enter through the widget below!
Kate Bracks has always loved cooking and, as many teachers do, she loves learning too. Food is something she has long pursued an interest in – cooking demos, classes, you name it and she was there. In high-school she wanted to become a chef and even did work experience in a fine dining restaurant during year 10.
Primary School teaching won out initially as a career but after baby #1, Kate enrolled in Tafe for a term of commercial cookery. After baby #2 and a move to Orange in country NSW she enrolled again – just as MasterChef came up. When asked if she would return to cooking school to gain recognized qualifications she noted that life is a bit too full-on right now – and that she feels recent experiences have actually surpassed what she may learn in formal training – but this certainly doesn’t mean she will stop working to improve her skills.
Although the goal is not necessarily to become a chef in a restaurant, she has plans to continue her learning by working for one or two shifts a week at Racine Restaurant in Orange with Chef Shaun Arantz. Chef Arantz has recently been awarded an ‘Australia’s Best Regional Chef‘ award by Country Style Magazine and has his first chef’s hat – not bad company to be keeping!
“It’s more about staying in it to be able to keep learning new things and [Chef Arantz] is very up with new things so I am very happy to just leach all his information!
I feel that at the moment a lot of what I am doing – food related – is about giving – recipes, demos, talks – and there is not much coming back in. Where as when I was in MasterChef I was like a sponge just absorbing all this information and I recognise it is important to keep that going.”
Kate’s first cookbook, ‘The Sweet Life’, is all about her first food love – dessert. When asked what comes next she said:
“I’m not working on another [book] as yet. Because of my primary school teaching background and because there are a lot of kids that come up and talk to me, I’m actually planning on heading down the path of kids and cooking. For me it marries my two loves and I think there is a huge avenue to explore.
While Kate shared that she is “Working on a fairly… ambitious project that tries to marry in a few different things [having to do with kids and cooking]”, she wouldn’t go into detail other than to say guardedly that it “will entail a whole combination of things”. You’d think she expected me to put whatever she said about it on the internet – ha!
Her passion is to teach kids at a time when they have that interest in food to give them what she explains as a “best loved skill”. Having her own kids, she knows it is a great time to focus on that openness to learning. Kate will target her “ambitious project” at 8-14 year olds. In May her website had not yet launched – and she wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook – but it looks like the little media gnomes have been hard at work lately and she is fully social now!
Having only had one week off since MasterChef wrapped in 2011 and coming off a fairly intensive 8-week book tour, when we spoke in mid-May Kate was looking forward to taking June off to re-energize, re-focus – and work out what ‘normal life’ is again with her family. With MasterChef All-Stars now on-air I recon she didn’t get quite the amount of time at home – or in the kitchen of Racine – that she was hoping for!
Of course, you know I couldn’t interview a dessert cookbook writer without a few squirrel-y questions:
Sugar alternatives and whole grains or flour alternatives – do you use them?
“I use what I think is going to be best for the end result of flavour and texture. I’m not, enough, guided by health properties but that being said I do think it’s an important thing to have in moderation – I don’t have dessert every day, I wouldn’t – but my philosophy is that if I am going to have dessert I really want to enjoy it and so I don’t worry about flour/sugar/fat content as much. I would rather have the really good stuff less often, than have the pretending to be good stuff.”
People always say to me ‘you always make the cakes, what happens on your birthday?’ So who makes the cake on your birthday and what kind is it?
“Ohh, it’s different every year – sometimes the kids help and it would be chocolate, sometimes a friend does it… yeah, that’s a good question…”
Ok, if Zumbo was going to make you a cake what would it be?
“Oohh, yeah, I reeeally like his V8 cake – his Vanilla Cake – but you know, anything Zumbo made would be alright!”
With that Kate had to run off to her book signing and other MasterCheferly duties, but not before a quick picture. With all the drama in reality TV and massive 15-minute egos these days it is wonderful to meet someone who is so lovely and down to earth amongst all the madness!
Thanks for the interview Kate and best of luck with all of your ambitious projects in the future!
Now for the giveaway…
To be in the draw to win a copy of ‘The Sweet Life‘ by Kate Bracks simply complete as many of the items in the below competition widget as you wish.
This giveaway is now closed – thanks to everyone who entered and congrats to our winner – Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky – enjoy the book!