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Take a tomato, bread, a rolling camera
and what do you have? Anna Gare s
audition for a live cooking segment
on Channel 7 s Perth at Five was
The fact that she made a tomato tart whilst
quipping that all she needed was a little basil, as
co-presenter Basil Zempilas waited in the wings,
demonstrates what separates a potential celebrity
chef from the rest of us.
Anna got the gig and it was the start of a whole
new on-camera career that combined a couple of
her very old passions -- entertaining and cooking.
As singer and percussionist of 80s all-girl band
The Jam Tarts, Anna, along with sister Sophie, was
performing live from the age of 13. At age 15 there
were three or four local gigs a week, which led to
interstate gigs, support tours with international
artists and a question that many parents dread --
what does algebra have to do with my life anyway?
Work experience at Kim s Bar and Grill in
Claremont planted a seed and for the next 10
years, restaurant work and performing was a good
fit. Along the way one of the international artists,
English writer and comedian Ben Elton, married
Sophie; Anna married a fellow Perth musician
and had two children; started a successful catering
company; recently remarried fellow Fremantle-ite,
former Australian and NBA basketball star Luc
Longley and... let s get back to the tomato tart --
it s pivotal and it very nearly never got made.
Anna initially turned down the offer to audi-
tion for Perth at Five for many reasons (some of
them even valid) until bro-in-law Ben got on the
phone with some choice admonitions and con-
vinced her to go for it.
"He rang me and said you re mad! I can t be-
lieve you turned it down. The problem with you is
that you think everything has to be cool. Being on
no channel is not cool. You ve always been good at
doing it live -- so do it! "
The conversation underpins a significant theme
in Anna s life, which she gratefully acknowledges --
there has always been fabulous support, in particu-
lar from her mum and dad (Kate and Bob), who
encouraged her in everything from allowing her to
make a mess of the family kitchen when she could
barely reach the bench, to her mother managing
the Jam Tarts. And neither parent rending their
garments or gnashing their teeth when she wanted
to leave school at 15.
"I come from a family where whatever we did --
they just encouraged our passions. I always wanted
to cook and I was always allowed to cook. It was
great but then everyone got sick of the sweet stuff.
You know when you are six, seven and eight -- all
you want to do is make sweet stuff. I made lolly
jelly, coconut bickies and orange cake but finally
they said come on Anna -- savoury ."
The Gares are a musical family and all four Gare
siblings (two boys and two girls) played in bands;
older brother, Adam in The Nansing Quartet and
the girls in The Jam Tarts. Anna and Sophie, plus
friends Jodie Bell and Lucy Lehman, would often
watch the The Nansing perform and when the boys
went off over east decided to form their own band.
"We just started busking -- mum would drop us off
at the markets. People asked us to do parties, the
uni circuit and it snowballed from there."
Anna sang and played percussion (tambourine,
glockenspiel and maracas), Sophie played double
bass, Lucy the flute and Jodie the ukulele guitar in
an eclectic mix of retro-pop and quirky originals.
The Nansing came back to Perth and often the
two bands played onstage together as one.
The Jam Tarts did an eight-year residence at the
Seaview Tavern interspersed with further-flung gigs
organised by mum and manager Kate.
"We had mum all those years and she was amaz-
ing because she basically kept organising adventures
for us... like OK, we ll go to the Edinburgh Fringe
Festival . She even hopped on a plane, went to
Sydney and got us gigs over there as well."
There were three albums and many highlights,
not the least was securing the mid-80s Australian
support slot for Rik Mayall and Ben Elton who
were riding high after the worldwide smash of
British television comedy The Young Ones.
"We toured all around Australia and struck up a
friendship with them -- we all got on really well," says
As part of Fremantle's extremely talented and creative Gare family, Anna Gare and her siblings
Sophie and Adam were a beloved fixture in our weekend entertainment routine in the
Jam Tarts and Nansing Quartet. But there have always been many more strings to the bow
of the talented Ms Gare. text sarah szabo « images craig kinder @ F22
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