She may not cook a souffle “without wrinkling a suit” like her mum Dame Quentin Bryce but Chloe Shorten, wife of federal opposition leader Bill, sure can cook.
In her new book, The Secret Ingredient, Ms Shorten shares recipes passed down from family, friends and neighbours, including Dame Quentin’s eggplant parmigiana, business icon Wendy McCarthy’s perfect roast chicken and a chocolate cake “so fine it was served in restaurants”.
She also shares some wisdom about the importance of eating dinner with family.
It’s a tradition from what she described as her “idyllic” childhood in the always sunny Brisbane.
“Every Saturday for 20 years my family sat down together for lunch together,” she told a crowd of friends, family and Labor MPs at her book launch in Melbourne on Monday.
“All seven of us, regardless of what we were into at the time – work, sport, dance, art, drama or just sleeping in – would squeeze around the family table.
“But the food or how it tasted isn’t what I remember, it’s the togetherness … I knew they were there for me thick and thin.”
The cookbook follows Ms Shorten’s first novel which is a guide for stepfamilies. It details how she fell in love with the opposition leader and the process of introducing him to her children from a previous marriage.
Ms Shorten has two children, Rupert and Georgette, from her first marriage to architect Robert Parkin.
In 2009, she married Mr Shorten and had a daughter, Clementine, together.
Dinner at the table has been a vital part of strengthening the modern family’s bond, Ms Shorten said.
Mr Shorten wouldn’t talk politics at the event but said his favourite recipes in the book included Dame Quentin’s ratatouille and his wife’s Easter roast lamb.
“Chloe’s making it for dinner tonight – I can’t wait,” he said.
Dame Quentin and Labor MPs Tim Watts and Clare O’Neil also attended Monday’s launch.