Kate and I are the best and oldest of friends. We first met fresh out of university at an industrial psychology test in the most inauspicious of circumstances. We were being pitted against each other for the plum job of journalist at Fairfax Media, the owner of such illustrious mastheads as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun Herald and The Age. For both of us, it represented our greatest chance to “crack the big time”. Neither of us would give quarter. Both of us, graced with the ignorance and ego of youth, believed our opponent didn’t stand a chance.
A tense few hours followed. Seated at opposite ends of a very long table, we occasionally looked up to eye the other. We were given strict instructions not to talk. We finished our exams and put our pens down with plenty of time to twiddle our thumbs.
“What did you get for question 23 on the maths test,” asked Kate boldly.
I gave my answer and responded in kind: “And what did you say for question 15 on the psych test?” I asked. Kate responded just as swiftly.
As it turns out, we both performed very well, so well in fact, they created an extra job and employed us both.
There was a bit of argy bargy in the early days. On our first day at work, I arrived before Kate, claimed a desk and left my things there while I made a cup of tea. I returned to find Kate sitting in my seat in the perfect Goldilocks moment. Kate was informed of the fact in no uncertain terms and she very sweetly moved. More problematic was that we were wearing the same clothes!
Despite these teething problems, we worked hard as a team and found we had many more things than just sartorial taste in common. We liked the same food. Each day I would buy a turkey, cranberry, tomato, avocado and brie roll, and Kate would buy a bacon lettuce, tomato and brie roll. We would cut them in half and share them. We also had a similar family profile, and we both were writing, wait for it, Mills & Boon books, and we both wanted to be novelists.
The years passed. I built a career in journalism and Kate left to pursue her love of books. Nearly 30 years later, Kate had built a solid career as an author and I had finally published my first book.
One day, when we were talking about books, and enjoying a delicious lunch and one of Kate’s innumerable bottles of Veuve Cliquot, I aired an idea for a show about books and food. There are so many iconic food moments in literature and the idea was to interview authors about food in their life and writing. Kate loved it. We tossed up a few titles and settled on Word of Mouth given the authors would be providing recommendations about their favourite books and recipes.
That was several years ago. Neither of us had any expertise in film, so the project lay nascent. Then, in a great stroke of luck, Claire Absolum, a TV producer and filmmaker moved down the road and was keen to join forces. The rest is history.
Welcome to Word of Mouth – a show about food, books and friendship.