I used to make him gnocchi all the time, even at the end when he was going through chemotherapy

7 May 2019 | Cancer Council NSW

Masterchef star Gina Ottaway joins Cancer Council NSW as an ambassador for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea in memory of her nephew Andrew

Gina Ottaway, affectionately known across the country as ‘Nonna G’ from her appearance on last year’s Masterchef, was born in Italy, and was just three years old when her family came to Australia.

For as long as she can remember, food has been the love of her life. When she was young, her dad even built her a stool so she could reach up and help her mum make pasta.  

“When we arrived in Australia we made do with very little money so it was all about simple, delicious food, made with few ingredients. My recipes are still that way today, simple and easy. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money to bring the family together for great food.” 

“Every one of us has been touched by cancer in some form, and I’m no different.”

Gina joined Cancer Council NSW as an ambassador for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea because it’s very closer to her heart. Her nephew Andrew died from liver cancer nearly 12 years ago when he was just 28 years old. “He never drank or smoked. Cancer doesn’t discriminate you see, and it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been affected in some way. I still miss him every day. He was my first nephew, and we were so close.”

Andrew loved everything Gina cooked, particularly her gnocchi. “I used to make him gnocchi all the time, even at the end when he was going through chemotherapy. He’s my inspiration and the reason I am so passionate about this cause.”

Gina is proud of her Italian heritage and is keen to help bring simple Italian cooking to Biggest Morning Tea tables across NSW.  When asked what morning tea means to her, she confidently responds ‘merenda’. “It’s like a get-together where you share small, tasty treats, any time of day!”

“It’s always a staple for an Italian family get together. Think olives, homemade pickles, meats, cheeses, fresh bread, and finish with a coffee and a cake.”

For anyone looking to add the taste of Italy to their morning tea this year, Gina recommends you ‘think anti-pasto’. “It’s always a staple for an Italian family get together. Think olives, homemade pickles, meats, cheeses, fresh bread, and finish with a coffee and a cake.”

“And it really is easy. Just grab some nibbles, have a chat, have a laugh, most importantly make things that don’t take you away from your guests, because this is all about getting together with loved ones to raise money for those impacted by cancer.”

Gina’s top tips for hosting a Biggest Morning Tea:

  • Think ‘quick’ – grab nibbles, fresh cheeses, olives, meats
  • Involve everyone – Ask friends and family to bring a dish
  • Easier the better – Try cake recipes that can be baked ahead of time – my orange cake can be made the day before!
  • Keep it simple – and remember what this is all about – simple flavours are the best!

The official Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea date is Thursday 23rd May 2019 however participants can register to host at any time throughout May or June. You can register or show your support here.