Cowboy raises steaks
A death in the family, a massive tax bill and an ailing mother haven’t knocked the smile off Texas cowboy Robert Murphy’s face. ANDREW FENTON reports
ROBERT Murphy’s new judging gig on reality cooking competition Aussie BarbecueHeroes came along at just the right time for the former Texas cowboy.
The affable American had such a bad run of luck lately that his life sounds almost like one of those woe-laden country songs. Even before he and daughter Lynzey were eliminated from My KitchenRules in March, Murphy was stung by a $250,000 bill for back taxes that threatened to gobble up one of his properties and his superannuation.
Worse, his 63-year-old sister was tragically killed in a car accident, leaving no one in Texas to care for his ailing mother, who suffers from dementia. More recently Lynzey’s boyfriend, Fred Nunes, was in a bad motorcycle crash.
“I’ve been back three or four times [to Texas] in the past year just trying to get things sorted,” he says.
“My sister took care of all my business and she got killed, you know, and I had a pretty good can of worms over there. I still haven’t got everything sorted but I’m trying the best I can.” Murphy’s mother refuses to come to Australia but he’s bought her a house, arranged to pay her expenses and hired carers: “She’s got dementia and she doesn’t always co-operate much but I try to do all I can.”
There’s light at the end of the tunnel on the tax front thanks to help from a good accountant.
“I’ve never not paid taxes,” he says. “But it gets tricky when you’re doing it on two sides of the world and you have to pay it not just twice, you actually have to pay it four times.”
Murphy met his wife Delsey 30 years ago during a trip to Canada, the pair fell in love and he ended up following her to Australia, where he bought a place in the Blue Mountains.
“I’ve been living here for about 21 years now and I’m almost used to it,” he says.
Fellow AussieBarbecue Heroes judge Jess Pryles has gone the other way – an Aussie expat who’s become a barbecue aficionado in Austin, Texas. “She’s pretty incredible,” Murphy says. Former SurfingtheMenu star Ben O’Donoghue is the host and third judge.
The step up to judging gave Murphy more sympathy for his MKR judges Pete Evans and Manu Feildel.
“I can feel their pain,” he says. “It’s not fun breaking somebody’s heart because a lot of people have their food dream. The way I look at it, you’re not always going to turn out the best food but you can always give it your best effort. I cooked some stinkers when I was on MKR … but you know I never felt bad about my effort – Lynzey and I, we gave it everything we had.” AUSSIE BARBECUE HEROES WEDNESDAY, 7.30PM, SEVEN
New recipe: Robert
Murphy is taking on a new challenge as judge on Aussie BarbecueHeroes.