AG: I was born in East Brighton, and grew up in Beaumaris. Dad was – still is – an accountant and Mum was a stay at home mum. Recent years she’s gone back to studying to become a psychotherapist. They used to have dinner parties all the time where I’d help to cook, and I remember growing up and starting to idolize Jamie Oliver, he got me truly believing how fun and social cooking could be. I’m the youngest of two boys.
KB: You were a fanboy?
AG: Yes. He made all these yummy and approachable food. Even now, I still use him as a reference point, he just makes it seem so easy. However, with catering, I’ve got to be more discerning with recipes due to the constraints of mobile catering. I love making custom menus with clients so long as they’re achievable in the van. I’ve designed my menu to be firstly delicious but I need to consider what will actually work in the context of the equipment I can bring along. Lots of slow-cooked meats and vibrant salads, stuff where the majority of prep is done ahead of time so when we’re at an event everything runs smoothly
Growing up, I was friends with everybody. A bit of a class clown. I changed school in grade 6 and my cat died around the same time, I took it weirdly and meowed a lot for no particular reason and the kids at the new school starting calling me Cat Man. When Katherine and I starting going out, my friends were still calling me that, the name just stuck, and I decided to reference it for my business.
As a family, we’d go out to nice places for dinners, but my brother and I would often choose the restaurants, Mum and Dad would foot the bill luckily! When I was 14, we went to a place called Lynch’s and I loved what they did, Mum and Dad encouraged me to check out the kitchen, and I decided to ask for a job. I stayed there for six months, working every Saturday helping out with desserts amuse-bouche. I absolutely loved it!
KB: My first job was at McDonald’s in Warrnambool. My friend and I wandered in at 14 and 9 months, and the manager interviewed us both on the spot and gave us jobs. It was a fun (although greasy) job, as lots of our friends ended up working there.
AG: I’ve always wanted to work. When I was 15, I got a shelving job at Beaumaris library after dropping books off and checking to see if they had any vacancies. Mum and Dad have always encouraged me to work. I ended up working with Bayside Council for the next 14 years, moving between roles. Prior to running Fat Cats, I was in a pretty monotonous job, recording and classifying documents, I loved my team but the job was a bit of a brain drain.
KB: I was born in Warrnambool, right at the end of the Great Ocean Road. I spent a lot of my youth at the beach. There’s not much else to do there. I have one older brother. Dad was a potter and a lecturer in Fine Arts at Deakin Uni. Mum was a physio. They are both retired now. Dad ended up making beautiful sculptural pieces out of wood in the later years of his career. I kind of absorbed a bit of both my parent’s sides, the more logical science side of mum and a bit of my dad’s creativity (although I am not artistic like him!)
By the time I was a teenager, I was pretty over living in a small town and moved to Melbourne to study Professional Writing at Deakin Uni. I initially loved creative writing but soon realized I wasn’t passionate enough or committed enough to pursue a career in writing. My first job post-uni was as a proofreader in a publishing company, and I found this pretty monotonous.
I had enjoyed psychology in Year 12 but never pursued it at uni, although it was always in the back of my mind. When I was at the publishing company, I decided to pursue a psychology Grad Dip. I wanted a more meaningful fulfilling career. My writing background was a huge help to my psychology studies. I worked in communications in the non-profit mental health sector whilst completely my psychology degrees.
After another 10 or so years of studying to eventually become a Clinical Psychologist, I thought all of my creativity had been drained out of me. But then I had a baby and somehow ended up starting my own little side hustle, Hello Botanical. I’ve been working in private practice as well, although I’m now on maternity leave with my second baby.
Me: So tell me how the both of you met.
KB: Our friend was getting engaged, and Adrian’s brother was a groomsman, and I was a bridesmaid. The bride used to tell me how much Adrian and I would get along. At the engagement party, we just chatted the whole night. We’ve been together for 11 years.
AG: Katherine was my first serious girlfriend, I was stoked to get such an awesome girlfriend straight away.
KB: Sorry, I had a few boyfriends. They weren’t very good ones though.
AG: I’ve always heard about how hard relationships were, but with Katherine, it is really easy.
KB: When we’d go on dates, we’d be always laughing and absorbed with each other. We have a very natural connection.
AG: Pretty quickly, we became best mates, and have been inseparable since we met.
Me: Tell us about the proposal. How did it happen?
AG: We got engaged in New Zealand. We were travelling around the North island in a car.
KB: I had found the engagement ring, as we were sharing a backpack. Adrian had told me to get something out of it. When I saw it, I chucked it back into the bag and pretended I never saw it. So I knew he was going to ask.
AG: I got a picnic from an amazing provedore, and we had a cottage by the river. We went out on a canoe, along with the picnic and set it up on the shoreline of the river and the sea. We were in a Maori area, and some of the local kids saw us. They started jokingly singing Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ when they saw our romantic set up. It was so funny
KB: Before we were engaged, we were in a fantastic sharehouse in Brunswick with some really close mates. After we got engaged we started getting serious and began looking for houses. We knew about Yarraville due to the Sun Theatre.
AG: My best mate lived in Williamstown, and we used to come to the Inner West for date nights.
KB: We fell in love with the first house we saw in 2015. We were told you can never buy the first house you fall for, but we just loved it! There was a silent auction, and somehow we made the winning offer. They wouldn’t give us a ballpark figure, and somehow it was still within our budget.
Me: Adrian, tell us about Fat Cats.
AG: In November 2013, I bought a food truck called Saucy Balls. I was so embarrassed by it, and people would pull up next to us and laugh when I drove it home. When we took the signs off, I was like ‘Thank God!’. I called it Fat Cats as the name had followed me.
KB: It’s a fun, quirky name. It’s a representation of him.
AG: I’m not a trained chef, but I get people. People want someone to trust, someone who is friendly and personable, someone who’s happy to work with them to get them their dream day.
KB: Adrian is the Hostest with the Mostest. He used to do individual tastings for families, cooking and serving them in their own homes. To me, a dinner with a bunch of strangers is so daunting. But Adrian would come home completely elated, having made besties with all of them. He makes everyone feel very comfortable, he’s completely himself and so funny so people love that.
AG: When I first bought the van, I wanted to do sandwiches. I wanted to be one of the Yarraville Gardens kind of food trucks working the scene, but realized very early on, I wanted permanency. I didn’t want to be hustling, and needed a physical location.
I realized quickly the grind of doing it day in, day out, wouldn’t suit me. There were days where I’d prepped all the food, and it would go to waste due to being overpromised a huge crowd. I was still working in the council for the first few years of Fat Cats, I had to have flexibility.
Within the first year, I did a few private events, and realized it’s much easier and workable than doing the standard food truck circuit, it grew from that. People loved weddings in obscure properties and locations, and didn’t want a commercial kitchen. Mobile catering became necessary.
When I started, it was a niche. I remember Googling who my competition was. Mobile catering also meant I could do any menu I want, as Fat Cats isn’t allegiant to any types of food.
I knew I wasn’t going to be ‘chicken or beef’ caterer, and also wanted to surprise people with what’s possible from a mobile caterer. Often, they say the food tastes home-made. The Shared plates menu would be 60% of my business but I can do heaps of other things and am very flexible.
Me: Katherine, how did Hello Botanical come about?
KB: I love indoor plants and have been a collector for a few years now. I’ve killed a few in my time, so I know which ones are easy to care for – the best kind for gifts! I’d often thought there were so many online/digital florists delivering around Melbourne but wondered why there were no online plant delivery services. I was always gifting plants to friends. Like most things I tend to pursue, the idea or interest has come naturally or spontaneously and I’ve just followed my gut. I guess I was wondering how I could stay home with my baby more, rather than go back to work more than a couple of days. More importantly, it had to have an easy stream of income that could fit into my life, which allowed me to have fun, be creative and cultivate a hobby.
Me: So what’s next for the both of you in the next 12 months?
KB: I do intend to go back to Psychology in come capacity sometime next year. I may work later in the day, after I’ve done my plants. I’m picturing an office/private practice filled with plants, so that I could run both businesses out of there. That’s a longer term idea though. Who knows, maybe it could be a Fat Cats café too, ha!
AG: In 2018, I moved into a commercial kitchen in Sunshine North. That has allowed Fat Cats to step up, and run two to four events per week. I’ll be focusing on different income streams in catering. Before I found the kitchen, I thought Fat Cats couldn’t get any bigger. It’s easier these days despite being twice as busy, as all my equipment (and van) is in the one place.
Me: So where can we find you? Do you have a favourite spot?
KB: If Adrian’s not working, we make the most of it by taking day trips on the weekend or during the week. We love doing something fun with our kids during the week, like going to the zoo or simply walking down to Yarraville village and grabbing a fancy cino at Coracle. We don’t sit at home. When we are home, we tend to live in our backyard. I spend a lot of time doing Pilates at All for One in Yarraville (any chance I get!)
AG: I don’t like sitting at home. I get ants in my pants!