The Living Room‘s Miguel Maestre may very well owe a big part of his career to Better Homes and Gardens.
It was on Seven’s rival show that he debuted on television when working in Sydney with chef Ed Halmagyi.
“My head Chef at the time was Fast Eddie, and he was a presenter on Better Homes & Gardens. They used to film the show where I worked, at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in a fancy restaurant called Cru,” he recalls.
“One of the producers said, ‘You would be good for TV, can you please give Ed a hand?’ That was the first time I ever did TV, making a pizza. We had the biggest laugh ever, and from there they asked me to be in the show doing more Fridays.”
But the big break came with Foxtel’s Boys’ Weekend, teaming up with Manu Fieldel, Gary Mehigan and Adrian Richardson. It was sold to 120 countries with Maestre then fronting solo on Miguel’s Tropical Kitchen.
It was The Living Room that would catapult him into homes across the country. He still recalls testing with his three co-presenters back in 2012.
“I remember thinking ‘Oh my God that’s Amanda Keller, she’s a famous lady from the radio…. oh wow that’s Chris Brown, the king of TV… and Barry du Bois was on The Renovators! What am I doing here?'” he continues.
“All I knew was cooking and a little bit of TV”
“All I knew was cooking and a little bit of TV. I love people and food but here I was sitting down with the best of the best. The guy who cooks Paella!”
Produced by WTFN the show would take on the Better Homes & Gardens juggernaut head to head, hoping to address a long-running timeslot problem for 10. Eventually it would do just that, including toppling its rivals in the Logie Awards as Most Popular Lifestyle Show 4 years running.
As the show approaches its 300th episode, Maestre can hardly believe his luck.
“We never thought when the 4 of us got together it would be such a rollercoaster of friendship, creating experiences for people how to cook, travel, fix their homes and bringing celebrities into their living rooms,” he explains.
“We clicked so well since the first day”
“We clicked so well since the first day. It’s almost feels like a lifetime for us, my kids weren’t even born when we started.
“We’ve been through the good times and bad times, it’s like we’re all married. We were really, really scared when Barry wanted to share his journey with the whole of Australia.
“But friendship is one of the best medicines in the world. We all wanted to spoil him as much as possible. We wanted to help him through the hard times, we were in his corner. He’s fantastic now, his health is better than mine!
“Now they are part of my family because my mum and dad live in Spain. I call ‘Gringo’ every 2 or 3 days, I speak with Amanda and Barry calls me all the time.”
‘Gringo’ is his Spanish nickname for Dr. Chris Brown, which he insists is far “too serious” for his pal. Maestre, who moved to Australia in 2003, now considers himself an Aussie “but with a funny accent.”
“You’ll never make it on TV because your accent is so thick!”
“Before The Living Room I did a lot of trials for cooking shows and some people told me it was a problem. ‘You’ll never make it on TV because your accent is so thick!’
“I didn’t go to any elocution classes. I refused to change anything about who I am.
“Everybody in Australia with a funny accent could identify with this.
“And now people say, ‘Miguel we can’t understand anything you say but spending time with you, we have the best time ever!’”
The Living Room‘s 300th episode airs 7:30pm tonight on 10.