After 15 seasons of Taste Le Tour Gabriel Gaté is wrapping his annual SBS series -but don’t be mistaken, he isn’t retiring just yet.
Looking to harmonise his work / life balance better, the veteran TV chef is concluding the Tour de France gastronomy features on a high.
“It’s been the most incredible relationship with SBS,” he tells TV Tonight. “It’s been a much-loved segment in a show that’s amazing. The Tour de France is extremely popular with people who love cycling and France, every year.
“In the last 10 years I’ve been going to France and spending 2 months visiting 21 different regions. When we come back there’s 3 weeks of intense post-production.
“So to be away that long is a little too much for the family. So after 15 years I decided while it’s popular nothing is permanent.
“I want to stay healthy. I’ve been a chef for 48 years and I enjoy what I do.
Gabriel Gaté must surely be Australia’s longest-running TV chef. 2019 marks his 40th year on TV after first appearing on Touch of Elegance in Adelaide in 1979.
“I cooked for someone who had a television show and they liked what I did, so they asked me to come and cook the dish,” he recalls.
“It was morning TV very much in the style of Good Morning Australia. ”
“People say I was like MasterChef, helping people to become better cooks.”
“Before me there was Bernard King and Peter Russell Clarke, but they were more entertainment or product-based chefs. On What’s Cooking I was doing a croquembouche or showing how to clean a crab. People say I was like MasterChef, helping people to become better cooks.”
Gaté would also present on Body & Soul, The Good Food Show, Fun in the Kitchen, plus 12 years with Bert Newton on Good Morning Australia.
While he’s reluctant to admit it, Gaté was once also something of a TV heartthrob for women across the nation.
“People have mentioned that yes…” he laughs.
“Sometimes you don’t realise you have something until it’s too late. Later when you age you realise youth is something that really works! Because I could cook, it was attractive.”
“Luckily the French accent is a popular accent”
Not just any cook. A French cook with a romantic accent.
“Luckily the French accent is a popular accent. People like the sound and the way we speak.
“But I lost a job on radio once on 3AW once. After doing it for 3 years someone complained that they couldn’t understand me. So that was the end of it, but that’s life.”
For What’s Cooking on Nine Gaté was directly involved in producing the food segments.
“I was never going to be told what to cook,” he recalls. “We did 15 to 20 recipes a day in Bendigo Street.
“At the beginning I said ‘Do you want a good show?’ A lot of the cooking shows were very lazy in Australia.
“People ask me about my success but I think I was one of the first chefs to communicate with people at home. I wasn’t cooking in restaurants, I was addressing myself to the home cooks, trying to help them become better.”
“People said, ‘A cooking show in the evening will never work.’”
In the ensuing 4 decades many TV chefs have come and gone, with cooking even going primetime, with another French-Australian Chef.
“People said, ‘A cooking show in the evening will never work.’ In Europe there were many, but here it was a no.
“Manu is almost as young as my son! He’s a serious talent,” he suggests.
“All of them have talent in their own way. Jamie Oliver is amazing in speaking to a younger generation. He excited them with cooking. I like Rick Stein and Luke Mangan.
“Bert Newton used to say ‘Whatever you do on TV, you’ve got to be entertaining.'”
“Bert Newton used to say ‘Whatever you do on TV, you’ve got to be entertaining.’ So some people are entertaining, like Nigella, and then you watch a top patissiere doing amazing food. If it’s boring or someone with no sense of humour, it’s such a turn-off.
“Television is many, many things, but you need to have more than one dimension.”
In his final Taste Le Tour on SBS, Gaté is showcasing the best of France, meeting pastry cooks, bakers, wine makers, cheese makers and, of course, some wonderful master chefs.
After 4 decades on air, Gaté looks forward to his next TV chapter.
“Cooking is a bit like music. I’ve got jobs and I want to do more television,” he insists.
“I don’t want to just stop. I’m not at that stage of my life yet.”
Taste Le Tour is now airing as part of the Tour de France coverage on SBS.