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COMING UP ROSES

Written by Donna Rishton-Potter


The idea of leaving a busy city life for the shores of Byron Bay may sound idyllic, but the reality of slowing down and embracing a simpler lifestyle can take some recalibration.


This is what award-winning Journalist and Meteorologist Magdalena Roze found when she moved to the Northern Rivers from Bondi with partner, chef and restaurateur, Darren Robertson.


Roze had a full schedule and busy career in the media; you’ll recognise her from The Weather Channel - during which time she accepted the ASTRA Award for Best News Coverage for the team’s reporting of the Black Saturday Bushfires - or from the slew of presenting gigs she’s done over the years, including National Geographic Channel, Network Ten’s News and Weather and co-hosting on The Project. She is a natural on TV; articulate, knowledgeable, and exudes a warmth and vibrance that’s even more lovely in real life.


Roze and Robertson met after being paired in a celebrity episode on Network Ten’s cooking series, Ready Steady Cook. “And we won” laughs Roze, who also happens to be a passionate foodie. It was a match made in the kitchen, so when opportunity knocked for Robertson to open one of The Three Blue Ducks restaurants at The Farm in Byron Bay in 2013, they jumped at the chance.

You could say Roze came to the region with a certain naivety about what a sea change would entail. “I just thought it would be seasonal and I’d come back to the city” she tells me. “I was in a privileged position of being able to fly to Sydney every other week and I tried to juggle work that way.” About six months in, reality dawned on her, “I was asking myself, what have I done? Was this the right move for me?”


After falling pregnant with her first child Roze tried to embrace the shift, but she is candid in telling me that initially she found the quieter life of Byron challenging. “I felt quite lonely and lacked purpose as my media career was all I’d ever known” she says. Still, she leant into the challenge of reinvention and ultimately discovered joy in leading a simpler, more natural life. It also led her to a path she’d never had the chance to explore before - her passion for food, wellness and lifestyle.


Roze is incredibly down to earth. She recognises the privilege she’s had to diversify her career and is conscientious about what she puts into the world. “I have an annoying sense of self-awareness” she notes. “I can’t forget where I came from. And my mother would kill me.” Roze was born in Austria before her family emigrated to Australia where she was raised in the south western suburb of Bankstown in Sydney. “My family were refugees” she tells me, “I spent ten months of my early life in Villawood Migrant Hostel.” Like many Europeans, food was always a big part of life. “My parents are Polish and Russian, so I grew up eating a lot of very wholesome, home-cooked foods… my memories around food are really happy.”


Although it was just a hobby, exploring her passion for wholefoods and cooking came naturally, especially now she lived in a region famed for its fertile lands and abundance of ethical producers and farmers. Roze began a simple website, sharing recipes and interesting stories of her life in Byron, which quickly gained popularity. In 2017 she released Happy & Whole, a stunning treasury of over 60 wholesome recipes which celebrate the health benefits of getting back to basics. Divided into chapters based on the weather and the seasons, the book also looks at living naturally and covers everything from DIY beauty tips to natural cleaning products.


After a lightbulb moment at her son’s playgroup, Roze also began collaborating with her foodie friend Katie Graham, on the development of a new ‘mite’ spread. A project which took over two years of laborious recipe and taste testing by the harshest critics (that’s kids and chefs!). The result? An addictive, delicious and wholesome product called “Oomite” - made from 100% real ingredients and zero additives, nasties or unpronounceable ingredients - which has been lovingly received by the food community (kids and chefs alike).


These days Roze has two children with Robertson and has become adept at juggling parenthood and the multitude of projects she has on the go. “It’s hard to define what I do” she laughs. Regardless, one thing is true; from hosting the popular food Podcast - The Pass and MCing events to her role as a brand ambassador, Roze has remained self-effacing, more comfortable shining the spotlight on others and causes close to her heart. “I will only partner with brands I feel a genuine and authentic connection with” she tells me. “I have to 100% believe in the product and it’s message.”


One such brand is Norco Milk, with Roze recently becoming the face of their new Cape Byron premium ice cream range. (The first face that is, since Claudia Schiffer held the role.) “It’s a full circle moment” she says. “Just under two years ago we were cooking hot meals and serving flood victims out the front of the ravaged factory in Lismore. None of us knew what the future held, so to have it making ice cream for Australia again is amazing. I’m very honoured.”


So what does the future look like for Magdalena Roze… Roze considers this for a moment. “I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had” she says. “I want to use my voice to talk about the issues I’m passionate about – the environment, climate change, food and travel.” This means continuing as ambassador for Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, it may include reviving her Podcast (she tells me if I write about it, she’ll hold herself to it). “I love meeting new people, learning new things… My parents gave up everything to make a better life for themselves, so I’ve always had a desire to make the most of every opportunity I’m given.”


Roze’s wholeheartedness and integrity are truly admirable. It's clear she has not only embraced the Northern Rivers but has become a valued part of the region. The key she says is, “Contributing to the community, opening your arms and sharing what you have. There’s room for everyone.” She pauses for a moment, then adds, “Regional living has a different vibe. If others are doing well, we are all doing well - we are stronger together.”


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