Matt Golinski has given an in-depth interview about what his life has been like for him since 2011, when he lost everything after a house fire claimed the lives of his wife and three daughters on Christmas Day.
Speaking to Australian Story, the celebrity chef — best known for his appearances on Ready Steady Cook — said he didn’t fully understand how he got past such a traumatic experience, but listed a few things that have given him reasons to live for, including his new partner, their baby girl, his passion for cooking, and setting goals like running marathons.
In 2017, Golinski, 46, revealed he had proposed to Erin Yarwood, a personal trainer who had helped with his rehabilitation, and that she was pregnant with their child.
“We were definitely all warned that he was coming in and to take special care of his case,” Yarwood, 32, recalled. “He was really quite frail and there was nothing much of him.”
Golinski had dropped from 85 to 60 kilos and more than 40 percent of his body was covered in burns. The burns had also done internal damage, affecting his organs including his lungs and bronchial tubes.
Despite this, Yarwood noticed a positivity in his spirit. “I know he would have been sad but you wouldn’t know that from meeting him,” she said. “He would quite often bring us in things that he’d whipped up, different things just to get him starting to cook again.”
Their relationship started as a friendship, and Yarwood would invite him to see bands and made him gifts. She was drawn to him because “he’s just such a beautiful person.”
Similarly, for Golinski, it was seeing the way Yarwood was with other patients that led to a growing attraction. “I could see with her this sort of genuine compassion for all these people that were in really vulnerable situations,” he explained. “They had strokes, they were confused and they were frustrated and she was just wonderfully compassionate with them.”
The two were at the top of Mount Cooroora in 2016, in a special spot where they always rested at the end of their climbs, when Golinski proposed.
Then, in 2017, the couple revealed that Yarwood was expecting, but speaking to Australian Story, they admitted that falling pregnant wasn’t easy; they weren’t able to conceive naturally.
Eventually a doctor put Golinski under general anaesthetic and checked his sperm.
“Out of the millions or billions of sperm that guys normally have, the surgeon found 14,” recalled Erin. “So then we had a chance to try IVF, and we were successful the first go. She’s a very special little one. And she’s got Matt’s dimples. She’s definitely meant to be here.”
Their little girl, Aluna, was born on August 16, 2017.
Cooking and training for marathons and other long distance events has also given Golinski things to focus on — in July he finished the 96-kilometre Kokoda Challenge in 24 hours, and within six weeks of leaving hospital in 2011 he competed in a 5-kilometre run.
Even though he has managed to move on, he will never forget his wife, Rachael, and the three daughters they had together: twins Sage and Willow, who were 13 at the time, and Starlia, who was 10.
He also has permanent reminders of his girls on his body in the form of tattoos: a sage plant for Sage, a willow tree for Willow and a star for Starlia.
“I’ll miss my girls forever,” he said, “but there’s nothing I can do about that, so all I can do is accept it.”