Debra lives with her dog, Izzy who is her pride and joy. She grew up in Victoria in East Gippsland and has two brothers and one sister with whom she is close.
Debra’s ‘Pap’ (grandfather) and dad were both bakers so she grew up with memories of freshly baked lamingtons and scones being prepared in their wood fire oven. Now whenever Debra is feeling down she bakes a cake.
“As a little girl I would spend a lot of my time in Nan and Pap’s kitchen just watching them both cook in an old, wood, fired stove. The first dish I ever prepared was a ginger fluff cake with fresh duck eggs when I was nine years old.”
Food was a massive part of Debra’s childhood. Meals were all fresh – nothing was processed – and this is how she cooks today. When Debra was a child, her father left the baking trade to follow his dream of running a dairy farm and Debra remembers preparing basic stew and vegetable dinners for the family while her mother and father worked outside: “I looked after the calves and hence now I can never eat veal!”
Debra left school at age 16. She always felt mature for her age as the oldest sibling and wanted to experience life. She went to London to work and then travelled throughout Europe where she picked up many food influences.
At age 39 Debra went through the trauma of having to undergo a hysterectomy. This was the biggest decision she has ever had to make. Debra was devastated that she could never have children.
It changed the way she saw life and had a huge effect on what she ate. She had to make changes to her diet due to hormone changes – and she started by only eating organic food.
Food to Debra is emotional as it reminds her of how she has developed as a person. She also sees it as a privilege because it has made her better physically and emotionally. Her strengths are in her understanding of flavours and textures. French food terrifies her.
“My cooking style is soulful and organic, I like to keep things simple but tasty. I am keen to learn and explore new flavours and find new opportunities to learn about cooking food.”
Debra is very interested in the importance of nutrition and its connection with everyday wellbeing.
Her dream is to share this with others by opening a holistic retreat where she can cook for her guests.