Remember Blind Date?
The popular television program was the scene of more than a few dating disasters – except this one.
Debbie and Michael Neat, now Margaret River locals and familiar faces at main street eatery The Noshery 6285, first met as contestants on the show, 26 years ago this week.
The pair say their love of laughter, travel – starting with their Blind Date trip to Italy – and a desire to enjoy life to the fullest have seen them through more than two decades together.
“I don't think there is any secret - we just gel,” Debbie Neat said.
“In our 30s and 40s we used to go out and party a lot...together! We've travelled a lot...together!
“It sounds cliched but communication is the key, and we really enjoy a good laugh too.”
The couple arrived in Margaret River late last year after living in Darwin for almost a decade, and said they were “instantly in love” with the region.
“It was suggested to us by family that the South West could be of interest to us, so we hired a car and drove south.
“One night and two days in Margaret River and we just knew it was the place for us.”
Packing their tent, two dogs, a car-fridge and a coffee machine, they spent two weeks driving from the Northern Territory to their new home.
Chef Michael, who heads up The Noshery kitchen after taking the reins from chef Sean Carter, said working alongside his wife was a delight.
“Just watching her with the customers, she's so personable and many a time we are asked ask if we are a husband and wife team who own the café,” Mr Neat said.
“We are so in tune with each other, she knows she can push the boundaries a little bit with me and how far to go before I put my foot down.”
Mr Neat said his cooking style was a more relaxed style than his brother Richard Neat, recipient of two Michelin stars.
“I'm so passionate about food and cooking - but with a more relaxed style, not fine dining, I leave that to my brother,” he said.
“My philosophy has always been ‘keep it simple and respect the produce’.
“I love breakfast and I also really enjoy doing the baking for the café.
“My dream would be to live in a little French village and learn to bake bread and croissants!”
Mrs Neat said her husband was also her best friend, making working alongside each other an easy task.
“I can honestly say I'm lost when he's not around, and while I’m looking for a more full time position at the moment it can be tricky with me having time to myself and Michael being so busy at the cafe.”
After experiencing the often-familiar struggle of finding permanent work in the region, Mrs Neat was offered a role at the cafe.
“I was hired as a front of house team member and I’m loving it – it’s hard work, but the people-contact, the getting-to-know-regulars, the fabulous feedback - it's great!
“I'm so proud to be serving my husband’s food - when I clear plates and they are almost licked dry it puts a smile on my face.
“I love coming back into the kitchen and passing on compliments to the chefs.”
The Noshery 6285 will launch a new Spring menu this week, which Mr Neat said featured a selection of dishes inspired by local produce and international travels.
“We will be retiring some dishes from the winter menu and introducing a few lighter, but fulfilling salad dishes.
“Breakfast still seems to be our most popular sitting, this time around we are introducing the ‘Ulster Fry’.
“We've just come back from Europe and spent some time in Belfast, Ireland.
“I promised our Black Cab tour guide I'd put the dish onto the menu - or as it's also known in Belfast, 'The Occupied Six'!”
For more information on The Noshery 6285 visit them on Facebook or call (08) 9757 3669.