French by birth, British by education, Australian by choice. Babette Hayes was uniquely placed to bring that fusion of French tradition and informal style that characterises her cuisine and interior design. Arriving in1965 Babette soon became a household name with a significant influence through her pages in Australian Home Journal as photographic stylist and later her cooking features; she was then appointed to House and Garden as cookery writer/editor and interior design stylist; in1973 she was engaged as the Interior Design Editor at Woman’s Day and when Belle magazine was launched in1974 she was also the design consultant and stylist producing 30-40 pages for the bi-monthly issues for the next 10 years. When Consolidated Press purchased Belle she was asked by Ita Buttrose to become join Women’s Weekly as Interior Design Editor. Writing on food and interior design she reached a wide readership. In between all this she ran a design studio, working as designer and stylist for various clients such as Formica, Dulux, Arthur G Wilson fabrics and wallpapers, Caroma, Glennon Tiles, Kleenex, Mirvac, Alan Bond’s Swan River apartments and Yanchep Village, and many private clients – to name a few. By 1980 she had produced 16 books on cooking and interior design.
She was awarded the OAM on the Queen’s Birthday in June 2014 for Service to Interior Design and Australian Cuisine through her writing (books and articles), and was featured in an Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra featuring people who had influenced and made a significant contribution to Australian Culture.
“I feel sometimes as if I have lived many lifetimes. So when asked by Anna Phillips to write my Bio for the Cooks Cooking Course I find it difficult to confine it to a few paragraphs…There is no logical pattern to my life’s journey but there are logical out comes when I look at how one thing has led to another”.
Coming to Australia was an important life choice – though I did resist for four years. I have Guy Hayes, my husband at the time, to thank for, as he repeatedly expressed his desire to leave England and make for this unknown destination. My family in France were, somewhat bewildered “why would we want to leave Europe, would they ever see us again?” I resisted because we knew absolutely nothing about Australia, but we were fortunate to meet and make friends with an Australian couple, he was a heart specialist from Perth. They enjoyed music, Jazz, art, picnics, good food and wine and travelling through Europe. Deciding we would come we were blessed to have the support of close friends of my parent in law, Dr Charles Lee and Moya his wife, to sponsor us in our bid to start a new life down under. They found us a flat overlooking Sirius Cove in Mosman. Taronga Zoo was on our left, we would hear the lions roar at night. We woke up on our first morning looking over the sparkling water, delighted to see several bright blue and green Italian fishing boats casting their nets in the Cove. It was a magical scene.
Fifty-five years later I moved on to another adventure with my youngest daughter, Arabella, who had always wanted to run a café and shop. In 2015, following a phone call from an old friend, Jasper Foggo, we came to a new life in Bowral as the new owners of The Hospital Shop Café. We have made new friends, caught up with old ones and have loved the opportunity to continue to create good food, and good coffee – working with wonderful team managed by Arabella who is in charge of the staff and ensuring our customers are cared for. I look after the informal décor and shop stock of gifts, make quantities of jams and chutneys and add my personal touch. We enjoy the sense of community and love to welcome old and new customers and continue to ensure ours is a relaxed cafe environment that is a “home from home”.