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From award winning pizza chef to 'Paleo Pete': Inside Pete Evans' life before fame.

Besides the word ‘chef’ in Pete Evans’ Instagram handle, the career in which he trained and practised for decades is mostly absent from his social media feed.

There might be a nice salad photo, or ‘keto dinner’ thrown in every so often, but they’re mostly lost in a sea of memes, media screenshots and right now, segments from his 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night.

Channel Nine aired a segment on 60 Minutes about the conspiracy theories that have flooded the mainstream in the era of coronavirus, with Evans as the poster-child spokesperson. The man once dismissed as a reality TV “celebrity chef” now considers himself a truth-teller so dangerous, he might just get assassinated.

Pete Evans on 60 Minutes. Post continues below video.

Video via Channel Nine

Really. “I’ll just make this one statement, if I disappear or have a freaking weird accident, it wasn’t an accident,” Evans, 47, said in the interview, going on to claim he was of completely sound mind, body and spirit.

There was no supporting evidence in the edited interview about some of the things he has entertained through his Instagram account: That the COVID-19 pandemic was planned, and that rioters and protests for Black Lives Matter are “instigated by organisations affiliated with the elite” to divide or distract us.

Evans encourages his followers to do their own research, or ‘think deeper’, not itself a terrible idea, if only that further research didn’t point to blogs sharing unsupported claims and YouTube videos.

Image: Instagram.
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It's a weirdly contrasting Evans to the one we saw each night on our television screens, making banter with pal Manu Feildel and hopping from dinner party to dinner party.

Pete Evans is a chef, remember, and he has thousands of followers to validate his views thanks to the media he now so strongly speaks out against.

So, how exactly did we get... here?

During the full, unedited version of Evans' 60 Minutes interview, which his team shared on YouTube, Evans spoke about being sick as a child and as a teen, but mostly his 'normal' upbringing with a balanced diet and yes, vaccines.

"I definitely had antibiotics when I was sick, definitely visited the normal GP when I was sick and I ate what you would call a standard Australian diet. So I had the low fat milk or the milk, I had the cereal, I had the white bread. When we found out brown bread was a little healthier we went to brown bread or wholemeal bread," he explained.

He said his first major 'turning point' came after reading a Tony Robbins book and attending a seminar as a 19-year-old, while completing his chef apprenticeship.

"The thing that resonated with me the most was this was not taught at school, this was not taught to me by the parents," he said, saying "this" was a different way of looking at life and ourselves.

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"It just seemed like such an invitation, that's the only way I can describe it, as an invitation for me, Pete Evans to go on a journey... I've learned that we are actually here for a purpose, and that is to evolve, to constantly learn."

From there, he began questioning "everything".

Originally from Melbourne, Pete and his brother Dave opened their first restaurant Pantry in Brighton in 1993.

In 1996, they moved to Sydney where Evans, his brother and business partner opened Hugos restaurant in Bondi, then a number of other 'Hugos' in the years following.

At its peak, Hugos was considered extraordinary. From 1998 to 2011, the restaurants in the Hugos Group were awarded eight Sydney Morning Herald 'Chef's Hats', 21 'Best in Australia' awards, and three 'Best pizza in Australia' awards at the Australian Fine Food Show. In 2005, Hugos won 'Best pizza in the world' at the American Pizza Challenge in New York City, and no, it was not paleo.

The success of the business afforded Evans some spectacular opportunities: he held a pizza-making and cocktail class at Hugos Pizza Bar during Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure and cooked with Wolfgang Puck at the G'Day USA: Australian Week black tie gala event in 2010.

He also started making TV appearances. His first television job was for The LifeStyle Channel's Home series from 2001-2005, then he starred in travel series Postcards from Home and a number of cooking shows - including a guest spot on MasterChef Australia - before landing the gig that would make him a household name in 2010.

MKR Manu & Pete
MKR's Manu & Pete. Image: Channel 7.

In 2010, Evans joined Manu Feildel as a judge on My Kitchen Rules, which over the decade won the Logie Award for the Most Popular Reality Program and was the highest rated reality TV competition in the country, with about two million weekly viewers in 2015.

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Meanwhile, 2011 saw a big shift in Evans' home life.

It was the year he split from first wife Astrid Edlinger - the pair were married for 12 years. They share daughters Chilli and Indii.

"He's got more famous and it inevitably changes anyone," Edlinger said after the breakup, the Daily Mail reported.

Evans met Nicola Robinson in 2011. Formerly known as Nicky Watson, the 41-year-old was a former model and New Zealand socialite who became a household name across the ditch when she appeared on popular reality TV show Celebrity Treasure Island in 2001.

She was previously married to New Zealand millionaire and businessman, Eric Watson, but they divorced in 2003.

Pete Evans wife Nicola Robinson
Image: Facebook.

The first sign of 'Paleo Pete', which he would come to be known, came a year later in 2012.

Sunday Life magazine approached him to take part in their weekly column, My Day on a Plate, which offered readers a pervy look at the sometimes bizarre eating habits of celebrities.

But Evans topped them all. He began his morning with "a smoothie of blended alkalised water, organic spirulina, activated almonds, maca, blueberries, stevia, coconut kefir and two organic, free-range eggs."

The column seemed to momentarily break Australia. Everyone sort of cocked their heads: What the hell were activated almonds?

Around the same time, he had a falling out with his brother Dave and stepped back as a "working partner" from Hugos, which also resulted in years of silence between the siblings.

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"For the past five years, Pete has had less and less to do with the business as he spends 10 months a year working full time on MKR and his other television and book commitments," a Hugos Group spokeswoman said in a statement to The Sunday Telegraph.

After three years of dating, Robinson and Evans got engaged under New York's Manhattan Bridge in 2014.

Then in 2016, the couple got married in a barefoot, intimate ceremony at their rural NSW home.


A year later, his brother Dave confirmed they had made up, but he had no interest in following his brother's path to fame.

"Celebrity creates a loss of your privacy - and I like my life the way it is," he told the Manly Daily in 2017.

"I look at what happened to people like my brother, other people, they're set up to be brought down by the fame."

For a decade, Evans seemed to walk between his two personas: Paleo Pete, who advocates for staring at the sun and recommends bone broth for babies, and MKR judge Evans, who puts his paleo principles aside for a few weeks each year to taste test the food of passionate home cooks.

Finally, in May, Evans was cut free from his Channel 7 contract and released from the shackles of family-friendly reality TV.

And his Instagram account is the result.

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Feature image: Channel 7/Channel Nine.

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