Herald Sun - Motoring - - MOTORING - Craig Duff

Any­one who has driven in Paris will at­test the me­trop­o­lis can be a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence from be­hind the wheel. It’s just as in­tim­i­dat­ing for the lo­cals, as chef Gabriel Gate re­calls. “I was an ap­pren­tice in a vil­lage in western France and had been prac­tis­ing on the lo­cal roads. But I ac­tu­ally got my li­cence in Paris af­ter just a hand­ful of lessons — it was a real learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” Gate says. The learn­ing hasn’t stopped for the cel­e­brated chef, who has since mas­tered tele­vi­sion pre­sent­ing, truck driv­ing and a se­ries of in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed recipe books — all while cook­ing up a storm at a suc­ces­sion of top-rated restau­rants. Gate is best known these days as the face of Taste Le Tour tele­vi­sion se­ries on SBS, which looks at the lo­cal cui­sine along the route of cy­cling’s Tour de France. Gate’s love of all things French ex­tends to his choice of ve­hi­cle, a Re­nault Koleos. “I think this is my third (Koleos),” he says. “It’s just a won­der­fully prac­ti­cal ve­hi­cle for me for busi­ness and family use. “I re­ally like the re­vers­ing cam­era with the guide lines. Once you get used to it it’s a great way to avoid ‘touch park­ing’.” The as­so­ci­a­tion goes back to the first car he owned — a sec­ond-hand Re­nault 16 he bought when he moved to Aus­tralia in 1977. “It was a ter­rific car but I had a small crash in it and be­cause of its age it was a write-off,” he says. That small crash was mem­o­rable be­cause his preg­nant wife was in the car at the time. “We’d just left a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment and were go­ing through an in­ter­sec­tion when the other driver didn’t give way. You get so scared for your family. It was a mild crash but at the time it was hor­rific.” Gate’s other hor­ror ex­pe­ri­ence is trucks block­ing the right lane on free­ways. “I know they’re busy and work­ing to a sched­ule but it isn’t good … in Europe trucks can’t drive as fast (as the cars) and can’t use the fast lane and it helps the traf­fic flow much bet­ter,” he says. The Re­nault La­guna re­mains as one of the driv­ing high­lights for Gate. “It was just a great car for me at the time and it went bet­ter than any car I’d had up to that point,” he says. “I have been lucky enough to go in a Clio Cup car around a track as a pas­sen­ger and that was some­thing else. “I think I’m a good driver — doesn’t ev­ery­one? — but I know my lim­its and the Clio showed me what a car can re­ally do in the hands of an ex­pert.” Sur­pris­ingly, his dream car isn’t of French ori­gin. “When I was do­ing my ap­pren­tice­ship we’d have all these English peo­ple turn up on week­ends and hol­i­days in these won­der­ful big Jaguars. They had style and I still re­mem­ber how im­pres­sive they looked.”

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