1. You’re eating and cooking your way around France again as part of the SBS coverage of the Tour de France. Will your alter ego, Francois – who looks just like you, but with a curly moustache – be joining you?
Sadly, Francois was decapitated a couple of years ago. I was very fond of him, but others in management didn’t like him as much. Francois was a French policeman related very closely to me, who always wanted to be a chef. I think he was a little bit jealous that I became a successful chef and he was a very ordinary gendarme.
2. What did you think of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat?
There are lots of things in that book that are true. The French people don’t have as many snacks as the Australians. And there is a real misconception about the richness of French cuisine. The French people really love their vegetables. They don’t eat on the run. The French people love their butter because it’s so nice. Nothing is evil in moderation.
3. What was life like growing up in the Loire Valley in France?
We had a very simple existence. We lived in a small town and we grew vegetables. I was the fourth of five children. My grandmother lived with us, too, and she was a really good cook. My older brother became a chef, too – a pastry chef.
4. How did you meet your Melbourne-born wife, Angie?
I had come back to Paris from doing national service in West Germany in the NATO forces. I had put up an ad that I wanted to share a flat with English-speaking people. We met on the street. I thought [Angie] was pretty lovely. She spoke languages [French and German], which I loved. She didn’t end up moving into my flat, but we got together.
5. How did you come to be on Australian TV?
When we arrived in Australia in ’77, the standard of cooking was not as good as what it is now. I decided to work for myself, cooking for dinner parties. To market myself, I went to a few television stations to introduce myself. Then I went to see someone from a show called A Touch of Elegance. The lady running it asked me to cook at a private dinner party of hers … She loved it very much and asked me if I would come on the show. I ended up doing a spot every week.
6. Do you have any secret skills?
I have done over the years a little bit of theatre and musical theatre. I’ve been in a few local amateur productions, such as My Fair Lady.
Gabriel Gate will sample food and cook dishes from each region the Tour de France visits in Taste Le Tour, on SBS One, nightly from June 30 to July 22.
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