MKR’s Colin Fassnidge’s latest social media feud revealed

The TV personality is in trouble on Facebook – and at home
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Colin Fassnidge is no stranger to getting himself into trouble on social media.

The fiery Irish chef has started infamous Twitter wars with a slew of restaurateurs, including veteran chef Tony Bilson, and disgruntled diners, notably A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw.

But his latest online brouhaha was far closer to home.

It came about after Colin, who dubs himself “the king of pranks” drew a moustache on his youngest daughter’s face while she slept, snapped a photo and uploaded it to Facebook.

Colin with his wife Jane, and daughters, Lily and Maeve.(Image: Julie Adams)

“Maeve is quite private, a bit like me,” says Colin’s wife of 13 years, Jane Hyland.

“We had to have an intervention with him when he put up that photograph without her permission. She said to him, ‘You’re not allowed to do that.’ He was given a letter of warning.”

Like many parents, Colin, 42, is learning the limits when it comes to parenting in a digital world.

For most of us, it’s tough enough, but with a high-profile job as a judge on My Kitchen Rules and the nation looking on, that navigation gets trickier.

The family with dogs Brann and Ellie. (Image: Julie Adams)

In 2015, Colin filed a police complaint after an anonymous Twitter troll left sickening messages threatening to molest his daughters Lily, nine, and Maeve, seven.

“They told me they couldn’t find out who it was,” Colin angrily recalls. “I took the cop’s name and when he asked why, I said: ‘Basically, when I find who it is, I’m going to kill them myself and my wife will probably help. Then I’ll bury him. And then I’ll tell you where he is.”

For all his tough-as-nails bravado, the celebrated chef is not only a fierce, protective papa-bear but is complete putty in the hands of his two curly-haired girls.

It’s clear, as the family takes part in The Weekly’s exclusive photo shoot at their home in Sydney’s east, who wears the pants in the Fassnidge family. Spoiler alert: it’s not dad.

Colin loves to spend time in the garden with his girls. (Image: Julie Adams)

Colin’s trademark dimples flash repeatedly as he proudly takes us through his oasis away from the kitchens – both those on set and in his multiple restaurants.

The well-tended veggie patch in the backyard, he says, “is a free supermarket” that provides well come dinner time.

“I’ve got aubergines, cucumbers, three types of kale, rainbow chard, beetroot, corn – the field of dreams is growing as we speak – fennel, passionfruit, all these different types of herbs, heaps of stuff,” he proudly declares. “I’m like the old man in the allotment out the back.”

“You go, ‘Where’s Colin?,’ and then you look out the kitchen window and you can just see a little head bobbing up and down out there,” Jane laughs. “It’s his happy place.”

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Getting to that happy place hasn’t always been easy for Colin who earned his stripes in old-school kitchens where yelling and screaming was the norm rather than the exception.

It’s an industry where anxiety and depression, as well as battles with the bottle, are rife. You only need to look to the recent high profile deaths of chefs Jeremy Strode – who took his life at the age of 53 after a battle with bipolar disorder – and Darren Simpson – whose long-term problems with alcohol reportedly led to his death at the age of 48.

Both were familiar faces to the Fassnidge family. Colin and Darren were long-time Twitter sparring partners, while Jane once worked in Jeremy’s kitchen.

Maeve picks up a tip or two from father Colin. (Image: Julie Adams)

“It’s in every industry but more prevalent in ours because people go out after hours, drink, drugs, and they socialise in the dark hours of the morning, when everyone else is asleep,” says Colin of the ugly side of the hospitality trade.

“I know heaps of alcoholic chefs and heaps of chefs my age who are just angry. If I was still in my kitchens and not doing anything else, I’d be old and angry too.”

It was a different story when Colin emigrated to Australia in 1999, where he vowed to take over the culinary world.

He also hoped to fall in love and marry a beach-going local girl, but six months later, he was working at fine dining establishment est., when Jane walked in and changed those plans.

Colin’s daughters love their father’s cooking. (Image: Julie Adams)

Another Irish import who had arrived on a one-way ticket in March 2000, Jane was waitressing at the restaurant, and when Colin shouted, she shouted back.

“She was tough,” Colin recalls.

“Not a good thing when you’re trying to chat her up, but I was born on knockbacks.”

“He was cocky and that hasn’t changed,” Jane retorts. “But there was one thing we had in common. I wanted to meet an Aussie too – a big blonde surfer – but Chris Hemsworth wasn’t around then so you did.”

To read more of our exclusive interview with Colin Fassnidge, pick up the February issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, on sale now.

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