Married couple Melissa and James share a passion for surfing, and their children Sienna (7) and Sunny (4). Wine merchandiser Melissa is of Italian-Australian heritage, and she and builder James met in Sydney, but now call Dunedin home. The couple were travelling through Bali during the 2005 terrorist bombings that killed 23 people and injured more than 100, but that didn’t stop them from returning there in 2012 to marry.
Tell us about your experience being in Bali during the bombings. Why did you return again after that ordeal?
Melissa Experiencing the bombs from a distance is still one of the scariest times of our lives. We just felt so vulnerable and wanted to get out of there. [But when the aftermath was over], we also felt so sad for the amazing people and friends we have made on our many trips to this wonderful and beautiful country.
James Over the years of travelling to the surf destinations around Bali, I felt like I wanted to do as much as I could to help the local community. I found that the best way to help was to continue to visit and support the many friends I have made.
What made you decide to enter The Great Food Race?
Melissa I love trying new things. I think life is too short to watch opportunities pass you by without giving things a go. I thought it looked like fun.James I didn’t – Melissa applied and forgot to tell me! The first I heard of it was when the producer called.
You met each other while in Australia – how does living in Dunedin compare to Sydney? Melissa, do you call yourself a Kiwi now?
Melissa I grew up in Australia and it will always be home. My life is in New Zealand now, my kids are Kiwis and I’m proud of that. I think I’m very lucky to live in such a beautiful place with amazing people.
James Dunedin is freezing compared to Sydney! But there are less crowds in Dunedin. I’m happy to be home.
What do your kids think of your cooking abilities?
Melissa They like everything we cook.
James They are pretty fussy, but they always love it when I make a pavlova – that really impresses them.