I actually wanted to be an author when I was a child. I remember a story I wrote for my mum when I was around seven years old. I wrote it on tiny pieces of paper that I messily stapled together before scribbling on a colourful cover image with crayons. The story was about three ponies called Twinkle Eye, Sprinkle Eye and Pinkle Eye. Thankfully my literary creativity has somewhat improved since then.
I started my writing career in London at 18 years old doing free work for magazines in between university and waitressing. During my last year at university I applied for an internship at the country’s top newspaper – and I got it! I couldn’t believe it. That was the first time I realised how important the phrase, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” is. And having that mind-set has been integral to the rest of my career.
Soon after university I landed a gig doing restaurant reviews for a well-known London review company in the evenings while I was working at a sales job that I really didn’t enjoy during the day. The restaurant review work was unpaid, but I got to eat free food, which was fine by me, and gained valuable experience and exposure. I began to freelance for other companies, too, and completed another internship at a London lifestyle magazine.
Slowly I built up a portfolio of work before applying for a full-time job in a leading Thai holiday magazine. After an online selection process and interview, I was ecstatic to learn that I’d got the job. And that was it. I packed one suitcase with essentials and off I went to move my life from London to Thailand.
Working and living in Thailand was lonely at times, but I never forgot the reason I was there: to establish myself as a full-time writer and to learn. As I was still essentially a rookie, I owe a lot to the editor of the company I worked for there because he meticulously took me through any mistakes in my writing. I feel so indebted to him for the time he took to teach me, even if my mistakes were sometimes embarrassing and very glaringly highlighted in red pen!
After an amazing year of being a full-time restaurant reviewer and lifestyle journalist in Thailand, I moved to Australia. The plan was to work as a freelance writer while I applied for full-time work, but it didn’t quite work out like that.
After a few months freelancing, I founded my business, the online food and lifestyle magazine The Great Aussie Bite. I had a vision! I wanted to create an online magazine that didn’t necessarily tell you what the ‘coolest’ bar openings were that week, but instead was all about ‘experiences’ – different, fun and exciting experiences that you might not have found out about otherwise.
As I recently said in a radio interview, “The goal of The Great Aussie Bite is to inspire people to do things out of the ordinary. To take their loved one on a romantic weekend away or go on a whisky tasting class with their mates. To inspire people to do things that make their lives, or even just their weekends, a little more exciting.”
Almost three years on as the editor of The Great Aussie Bite, I lead a team of 40 freelance writers all across Australia, spanning VIC, NSW, QLD, WA and SA. They all seek out exciting experiences in their local area to tell our readers about.
In addition to working at The Great Aussie Bite, I host a regular radio segment where I interview top chefs and restaurateurs, create video content and recipes for an international, American-based culinary company, and freelance for a wide variety of magazines and clients all over the world. I’m very busy, but I love it that way.
I remember going to a job interview a few years back for an international lifestyle magazine and not being able to scrape together enough coins to buy the $4.95 magazine to do some research for the interview, which I embarrassedly realised whilst at the newsagent counter. These days my job consists of flying around the country and world reviewing top luxury restaurants, spas, resorts, retreats, hotels and experiences.
I had a vision of the career I wanted, and didn’t let having no money, geographical boundaries and the odd life upheaval get in the way of that dream.
A lot of people tell me that I have the best job in the world. And you know what, sometimes I think they might just be right.