We all know him as the flamboyant judge on hit show MasterChef, but behind the foppish, internationally renowned food critic is Matt Preston the devoted family man, with a wife who is the icing on his cake, writes Wendy Squires.
It is late morning and MasterChef judge Matt Preston is still asleep, his wife Emma explains, having spent all night awake with jetlag after returning from a family holiday in Europe. “I’ll just check in on him,” she whispers, before tiptoeing along creaking floorboards to the end of the hall in their inviting Melbourne home.
Within minutes, the sleeping giant awakes, emerging as a vision in pink – matching shirt, cravat and eyes. He looks tired, like a man who would want anything but a stranger in his house ready to quiz him. Yet it soon becomes apparent that Matt likes to chat — a lot.
In fact, it’s hard to keep up with the ebullient host, who quickly settles in after a strong cuppa. So rapid-fire are his witty stories, memories and theories on everything, from the colloquialisms of Home and Away’s Alf, to male neck adornment throughout history and storage methods for rhino sperm (don’t laugh, he actually wrote a freelance article on the subject), it’s hard to keep up. It’s a far cry from his astute observations and measured comments on MasterChef, but, as his lovely wife so deftly points out, Matt did have his mouth full for most of the show.
Like a great meeting of flavours, Emma is the counter-balance to her husband of 10 years. While one could describe Matt as a hearty dish, robust and rich in flavour, Emma, an attractive 44-year-old with large blue eyes, long legs and a wry sense of humour, is the special touch that elevates his dish to a delicacy.
Together, the pair is like a great comedic couple and, while Emma might play the straight guy, she still lands her share of laughs. Take, for example, how they first met. While Matt, 48, recalls the minute and date of their first sighting, first kiss, second major kiss (they had broken up for a brief period), attempt at a proposal and the moment she finally said yes, Emma’s first recollections are less starry-eyed.
“I thought he was probably gay,” she says dryly of her first impression of Matt, who, at the time, was dating one of her closest friends. (Matt moved from his native London in 1993 to live with his ex, who remains a great friend to both and is godmother to their nine-year-old son, Jonathan).
“Then I met his English friends, who are all married and they were the same – they all love their clothes and are pedantic and fussy about their food.
“But Matt is probably more feminine than most blokes. Not many men will go out and pick flowers for the spare bedroom if guests are coming to stay. But Matt loves women and women love Matt. All Mum’s friends, all my friends, just adore him.”
“And I love female company,” Matt interjects. “Nothing makes me happier than having a long discussion with women about shoes and dating.”
It’s this camaraderie with women that opened Emma’s heart to Matt, with the couple becoming close friends over weekly tennis matches, followed by a movie or bite to eat. “I used to pour out my heart to him about being single,” Emma recalls. Adds Matt, “And I used to sit there listening to this thinking, ‘That’s amazing. She’s such an incredible, beautiful woman’.”
Read the rest of this story in the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly with Tracy Grimshaw on the cover.
Your say: Are you looking forward to the new season of MasterChef? Why do you think Matt is such a popular judge?