Mum says I was very naughty as a young boy, loose and like a wild horse. I was very social but academically not very motivated; I had to repeat a year at high school. When I was 15 my parents moved me to an all-girl Catholic school run by nuns. I was the first boy to attend and was in a class with 36 girls.
Dad thought the nuns were tough and would straighten me out but I loved it – it was like a dream come true! I made so many good female friends and we had the best time growing up. By my third year at the school they introduced more boys, but I was the original bachelor!
My first kiss was with my neighbour, Carolina. It was sweet and innocent. We’d hold hands and wander the streets together. I was about 12 years old. We joked years later about how we were one another’s first girlfriend and boyfriend.
My celebrity crush is Jennifer Lopez, for all the obvious reasons.
I only had one long-term girlfriend, Marmen, when I was young. I met her at high school at 16. She was fascinated with a cool football player and left me for him after two years together. It broke my heart.
I met my wife, Sascha Newport, in Edinburgh, Scotland, when I was in my early 20s. She was on a holiday with a friend from Australia and I was working in a bar. It was a sliding-doors moment when we met. I knew from the first time I saw her that she was the one.
We didn’t have an argument in the first five years of being together because I couldn’t speak English that well! She obviously loved my cooking and my smile. We married in 2010.
We lived in Edinburgh for three years, then came to Australia to attend her friend’s wedding and didn’t leave. When I arrived we had no money and I had to navigate the visa process. Sascha really helped with that. She is switched on and smart, the CEO of our business. She helps me with my media life and diary and is the mother to our children, Claudia and Morgan.
The arrival of Claudia in 2011 changed my life at every level. When she was born I made the choice to leave the restaurant industry. I didn’t want to have a family and not be there for them. Cooking is my life and passion and what I live for, but having a family is what I always wanted. I became a personal chef and my media career grew stronger after she was born.
I helped Sascha for the first few months after Claudia arrived – changing nappies and cooking – and my daughter and I have an amazing bond because of that.
I felt like the weakest link in the audition for The Living Room; the others were household names and I was unknown. Amanda Keller is my TV mentor and everything I have learnt is thanks to her knowledge.
I ring Amanda often and ask for advice: she is intelligent, witty and foxy. She has the X factor –and there are not many women in the industry who are as successful as she is. I find her very inspiring.
The Living Room airs each Friday at 7.30pm on 10. This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale July 12.
Jane Rocca is a regular contributor to Sunday Life Magazine, Executive Style, The Age EG, columnist and features writer at Domain Review, Domain Living’s Personal Space page. She is a published author of four books.