Well-travelled Desiree Chauke has a nose for the finer things

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TV personality and socialite Desiree Chauke (née Makote) is one of the most recognisable faces in television, having carved out an illustrious career as a presenter since the 1990s.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?

My mom; she's turning 80 this year. She drives and runs her own business and remains a source of inspiration.

What odds did you overcome to become a TV presenter?

Not much really. I was fortunate to have access to the entertainment industry through my mother's contacts. I would tell anyone who gave me two minutes that I wanted to be on TV.

And, when the time came, Andrew Shale, who was an executive producer at the SABC, came through with news of an audition, from which I got three callbacks. Eventually I got the job of the first black English prime-time newsreader on SA television.

What has been your career's most memorable highlight?

The recent ANC elective conference at Nasrec. When you are in those heated sessions, you wish our youth could have had the first-hand experience of the horse-trading.

I also got to travel throughout the continent and globally. Interviewed African presidents, leaders and ordinary Africans doing amazing work.

What is the funniest on-air moment you have experienced?

I can't think of one right now, but I'm sure there have been quite a few.

How did you develop your passion for wine?

At home I used to serve Bellingham and JC Le Roux to my mom's clients.

In my early working life I was a public relations executive for Gilbey's Distillers and Vintners. As a result, my appreciation of the drink upped a few notches. Last year I was introduced to Vika Shipalana from Perrier Jouet champagne, spawning yet another drink to explore.

What is your favourite food and drink?

Braai meat. When I am with friends, there's always something popping.

Where have you had your best holiday so far?

Rome, Italy, on my honeymoon was the best ever. A four-state US trip in 2015 was also unforgettable.

What made the holiday special?

I was a newlywed; our host family was amazing. They literally took time off to chaperone us around Rome. I'm Catholic, so to be at the Vatican was religiously significant for me.

What is your personal motto?

Be present and live everyday to the fullest.

Your favourite restaurant?

Yeoville Dinner Club in Yeoville. Also Mash in Douglasdale in Sandton.

What is your biggest extravagance?

My children's education.

Who would be your three ideal guests?

Mam' Winnie Mandela, just because. Cyril Ramaphosa, I'd like to be the first to know how he plans to implement the "New Deal" and my dear friend Ethel Nyembe who is an amazing conversationalist. She always helps clarify complex conversation.

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