For me Christmas night is very special, it’s a night I host dinner for family and very close friends. We eat, drink and share special time together that gets locked away in my memory safe. And then there is Boxing Day morning, every year it’s the day for the big clean-up!
Unfortunately, Boxing Day just past was very different from any other. I was woken early by a phone call telling me of the terrible tragedy unfolding on the Sunshine Coast. My dear friend, chef, Matt Golinski’s house had burnt down, his wife, Rachel and his daughters had all perished in the fire and Matt was fighting for his life – and it didn’t look good for him. It felt like a bad dream. I just couldn’t process this information, I don’t remember what happened next, somewhere I lost 2 hours and then the phones rang non-stop and all we could do was wait, hope and pray for our friend, Matt, to make it through.
I met Matt on the set of Ready Steady Cook, eight years ago, when the series first began. There were 10 chefs in the mix and we all quickly formed a bond that is ‘family-like’, I know that sounds clichéd but it’s the truth. As the years turned over some of the chefs moved on to other wonderful shows- Gary Mehigan and George Colombaris to Masterchef and Manu Feildel to My Kitchen Rules, but we all formed close relationships that have continued to this day.
Matt and I quickly became friends as we share many things in common, our love of the coast and beach, our dedication to family, our no fuss approach to food and our birthdays (loyal, generous and yes, okay stubborn Taureans).
Matt is the ultimate family man, when he talked about ‘his girls’ his face would always light up- they were simply the most important thing in his life – so I just cant imagine the road ahead for him, emotionally as well as physically – it breaks my heart thinking about it. What I can imagine though, is the number of people who will continue to surround him 24/7 to comfort, support and be there for him – there is no shortage of numbers or love here.
And so it’s only natural that Plates For Mates was born, Alastair Mcleod of Bretts Wharf (and Ready Steady Cook super-chef) has been the driving force behind setting up this charity to raise money for Matt’s recovery and the The McComb Foundation (a charitable organisation set up by surgeon and former Australian of the Year, Dr Fiona Wood to aid burns research). We, a collective group of Matt’s friends, ask that you log onto the website www.platesformates.com.au and get involved by hosting an event; supporting an event or donating.
All you need to do is invite, friends around, get them to bring a plate and a donation. I know times are tough for everyone – but I hope you are able to support my friend Matt and the McComb Foundation that will help many others in a similar situation.
Janelle Bloom is one of this country’s most-loved tv chefs & food writer. She believes good cooking begins with confidence and a little patience.