NADINE Abensur grew up in Casablanca - "until I was eight and then we moved to London," she explained.
"I went to school there and when I finished I went to university and studied psychology and philosophy. I was planning on doing a PhD in clinical psychology, but I went to India and got God instead.
"I landed in Poona and stayed there for seven months and travelled all around Kashmir in the days that you could. I ended up not going back to uni, so that was the end of that.
"By this time I had become a vegetarian and I had started cooking for friends and I was pretty good at it. I started a vegetarian catering business and my first client was Annie Lennox and it really took off after that.
I ran that business for eight years catering for the rich and famous, and then I got a book deal to write my first cookery book. About the same time I got head-hunted by Cranks - a really famous vegetarian restaurant in England. I was also given the contract to write all their cookbooks and I wrote four cookery books for them.
By this time my marriage fell apart so I decided to follow a cherished dream to live in Byron Bay. It was strange; when I was around 23 I heard the name Byron Bay for the first time and like when one sees a lover across the room - I knew I was meant to live here.
"Twenty years later with a four-year-old-son, I moved here. At first I carried on cooking and teaching all over Australia and going back to London and Switzerland teaching cooking. When I came here, my intention was to do very little and just paint .That never happened, but what did occur is Art Piece Gallery fell into my lap, and I've now been here for six years.
"It's fabulous. I get to meet great artists, like the two artists I have at this weekend's show, Thoughts of Home. It's a joint show between Katka Adams and Rene Bolten; he won the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize. I have also hit on a way to incorporate my two great loves; art and food. The launch tomorrow at the gallery opens with afternoon tea and cakes.
"One of the things I enjoy so much about the gallery is it brings me in touch with the best of the region's art- ists and with all the ups and downs that I have experi- enced living here, the fantastic people, the surrounding nature and the ocean always brings me joy.
"I was bought up by the sea in Casablanca, so moving to London was a big wrench for me. I promised myself that at some stage I would live by the sea again - and now I am."
- There is such great culture and music here. Keep up with what's happening in the region and make the most of the festivals here. I especially love Bluesfest and the Mullumbimby Music Festival.
- Get into your own creativity - this is a very supportive place for creativity.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.