Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge has been a welcome addition to the green team on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, saving competitors from the blandness of rice and beans and stepping in as “Dad” to Jack Vidgen and Abbie Chatfield (with “Mum” Toni Pearen).
The former My Kitchen Rules judge, who reportedly replaced friend Pete Evans, hails from Ireland but has been a Sydney resident since 1999.
The 46-year-old may not have fared too well in his first “jungle” challenge (a wacky endeavour involving copious amounts of slime) but his career has gone from one strength to another.
Fassnidge was working at exclusive Sydney restaurant est. in 2000 when he met his now-wife Jane Hyland who was the venue’s assistant manager at the time.
The pair, who are now parents to Lily, 10 and Maeve, nine, are both Irish and, hilariously, were both looking for Australian love interests when they met (specifically, Jane was looking for Chris Hemsworth — but aren’t we all?).
The chef’s marital status may be a little disappointing for his castmate Pettifleur Berenger, who has flirted up a storm with him since his arrival.
However, during Sunday’s (January 10) episode of the reality competition series, the two contestants bonded over the revelation they have something sombre in common.
Fassnidge got choked up as he spoke about his elderly father, who has dementia, and his hopes to visit him back in Ireland. Explaining that he was supposed to return to his homeland in 2020 for a visit, the Commonsense Cook author said, “ I said to my wife I might go back and live there for a while, just for a few months or something. Because I can see him fading a bit. I spoke to him the other day and… he was fine the other day, but I spoke to him the week before, and I was like, “Wow.”
Getting emotional as he relayed the story of his Dad forgetting his wife’s name, Fassnidge soon found support in Berenger who shared her own experience with the devastating illness.
“My dad passed away from dementia. Very, very sad. Very sad disease. You’ve got to spend as much time as you can,” the 56-year-old said.
In a piece to camera, she elaborated, “In front of your eyes, you see them fading away, and you see them not even recognising you. It’s…it’s really hard.”
Dementia affects around one in 15 Australians aged 65 and over and according to the World Health Organisation, around 50 million people worldwide have the illness with nearly 10 million new cases diagnosed every year.