COVER STORY

Mag­dalena Roze traded life in the me­dia fast lane for a sub­dued and serene ex­is­tence in Byron Bay. Now, she’s a cham­pion for ru­ral mums, whole­food cook­ing and a laid-back life­style, writes GE­ORGINA SAFE

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

TV’S Mag­dalena Roze talks moth­er­hood, whole foods and coun­try liv­ing.

On a blue-sky day in Byron Bay, Mag­dalena Roze is perched out­side a barn be­side a vegetable patch. She is tuck­ing into a freshly baked mush­room quiche and talk­ing about the joys of slow­ing down.

Roze, an award-win­ning TV pre­sen­ter, me­te­o­rol­o­gist and for­mer Syd­neysider, de­camped to the NSW hin­ter­land with her hus­band, chef Dar­ren Robert­son of Three Blue Ducks, two years ago. Their son, Archie, was born early last year.

“I’ve learned it’s pos­si­ble to sim­plify your life and feel richer for it,” says Roze, 35, who was ac­cus­tomed to the fre­netic pace of morn­ing tele­vi­sion, 3am starts and 18-hour work­days. “I’ve been lucky to make the sea change and I’ve learned so much I want to share.”

Roze’s af­fec­tion for re­gional life is at the heart of her new book, Happy & Whole, a lav­ishly il­lus­trated cook­book. It con­tains over 60 recipes rang­ing from buck­wheat pan­cakes to spelt pasta salad, and car­rot sauer­kraut to bibim­bap. But you won’t find one for the quiche that she’s eat­ing to­day.

“I didn’t make it my­self,” she says, laugh­ing. “I wish I had made it but when I walked through the doors [of Three Blue Ducks on the Farm] this morn­ing, I couldn’t help my­self.”

The celebrity cook­book and life­style mar­ket is a crowded one, yet Roze stands out for her earthy at­ti­tude, like­able per­son­al­ity and re­fresh­ing hon­esty. What other life­style guru would ad­mit to a bout of gas­troen­teri­tis? Not Gwyneth Paltrow we ex­pect.

“I’ve had the rough­est week be­cause Archie and I both came down with it,” Roze ad­mits. “I’m a bit knack­ered.”

In Byron Bay, Roze has re­dis­cov­ered her love of cook­ing and craft­ing, but the big­gest op­por­tu­nity has been con­nect­ing with lo­cal moth­ers. “Be­ing a mother here is re­ally cel­e­brated and re­spected,” she says. “There is far less pres­sure here on moth­ers than in the city: it’s the norm not to wear make-up, there is no pres­sure on bounc­ing back, or on post-baby bod­ies.”

Roze says the com­mu­nity of ru­ral moth­ers has her helped enor­mously. “When I had the baby, I had com­plete strangers drop­ping off food at our house,” she says. “If we have a spare hour, we’ll all go to the river for a swim or ex­change baby tips over cof­fee.”

Happy & Whole ad­vo­cates a “holis­tic but re­al­is­tic” ap­proach to liv­ing, which means sim­ple recipes us­ing nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents. Healthy life­style tips range from ad­vice on moth­er­hood and DIY beauty prod­ucts to dec­o­rat­ing your home and host­ing af­ter­noon tea. If some of the guid­ance is a lit­tle hippy-dippy – Roze has a pen­chant for dream­catch­ers and hair gar­lands – it’s all of­fered up in a warm, non-judg­men­tal tone.

“I don’t think per­fec­tion can or should be achieved,” she says. “Drink­ing a green juice does not make you a good per­son, and drink­ing bone broth doesn’t make you a pure per­son. I don’t be­lieve there is clean food or dirty food – there is just real food.”

The daugh­ter of Pol­ish par­ents who fled to Aus­tralia to es­cape mar­tial law, Roze grew up tak­ing salami, rye and pick­les to school in her lunch box – “way be­fore pick­ling be­came pop­u­lar”.

Af­ter com­plet­ing a me­dia de­gree and work­ing in broad­cast jour­nal­ism, she found her­self pre­sent­ing the weather dur­ing the day and study­ing me­te­o­rol­ogy at night. She not only gained her di­ploma, she also won both the 2009 Bio­phys­i­cal En­vi­ron­ments Prize and the Aus­tralian Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal and Oceano­graphic So­ci­ety Prize.

“My par­ents gave up ev­ery­thing back home to make a bet­ter life for them­selves, so I’ve al­ways had a de­sire to make the most of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity I’m given,” says Roze.

When she took a job with Chan­nel 10, she met Robert­son on Ready Steady Cook – “We were the cap­sicums and the other cou­ple were the toma­toes” – and they be­gan dat­ing shortly af­ter­wards. The pair were en­gaged in 2014.

When Robert­son got the chance to open a res­tau­rant in Byron Bay in the same year, it was Roze who urged him to take it. “I told him, ‘It’s a chef’s dream, you’ve got to do it,’” she says.

But for Roze, leav­ing her busy life­style in Syd­ney for the calm of Byron was ini­tially chal­leng­ing as she won­dered what she would do. “Lack­ing that pur­pose was dif­fi­cult and I was also quite lonely and iso­lated be­cause I didn’t have my friends and fam­ily around me.”

But then Roze be­came preg­nant with Archie. “When I fell preg­nant I thought, I can’t hold onto what I had be­fore, I have the free­dom to let that go and to make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that I have here in Byron,” she says.

Happy & Whole is just one part of Roze’s bloom­ing em­pire, which also in­cludes a blog and pod­cast, The Pass.

“I like to get back to ba­sics, con­nect with the sis­ter­hood and ex­plore the pas­sions that I love,” she says. Happy & Whole, $39.99, Pan Macmil­lan, is in stores this week. See the ex­clu­sive ex­tract

in the April is­sue of de­li­cious.

THE WHOLE PIC­TURE Mag­dalena Roze, above with chef hus­band Dar­ren Robert­son and son Archie, has writ­ten the cook­book Happy & Whole (left).

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