How sad for all to see that David has passed away especially when we thought He was living with "Mummy" in Thailand and looking forward to seeking him out on our forthcoming visit. David was a good mate and we all shared some wonderful times meals grog and laughter in the very early years so long ago it seems at Neutral Bay.The days of APEX and all the fundraising the fun of working with him at the former Ramada Inn, meeting up with Him at Exeter a number of years ago. I am at a loss to understand why such eccentricts die so young especially when we need laughter and good company in our daily lives. Love and Peace to all.
When I graduated from Swinburne University in Melbourne the early nineties, I obtained a graduate position in Canberra with the (then) Commonwealth Department of Transport and Communications. As a single man, leaving friends and family behind, such a transition was exciting, but challenging. Canberra was then more of a 'company' town than it is today, and a great place to raise a family. In this sense, without having any family to raise, being part of a community was important to me, especially in terms of providing a different space to the work environment and work colleagues. David and I happended to purchase townhouses in the same development in the new suburb of Palmerston (Gunghalin) in 1993, and I got to know him and his son Lucas quite well. David was himself a traveller, an immigrant to this land, and a man who extended generosity to those around him. I was a regular guest at his dinner parties, where excellent food, wine and conversation were all standard. Through, these, I was introduced to his many friends and colleagues in the food industry and academia, and his good friends, many of whom had been very supportive of David at various times in his life. David was a do-er, as any Head Chef has to be - you don't do the work and people don't get fed etc. He helped me in terms of establishing my home, laying tiles, getting window fittings, developing a garden, etc, always with good humour - and a nice touch of English sarcasm! He was appalled at how long everything was taking me, and with reference to my Italian background, he'd say, 'I know Rome was built in a day, but ...' He did have a bit of temper (but who doesn't!) and he once described himself to me as 'a bit of bull in a china shop'. Having had the odd spat with David, particularly in relation to Body Corporate matters, I can truly say that his bark was worse than his bite. David not only provided me and his family and friends with good food, he was also great company - he was quick with a joke (and to light up your smoke) and certainly one of kind. When I was working at Parliament House in Canberra as a departmental staffer to Hon Neil O'Keefe MP (under the Keating Ministry) I invited David to dine with me at the Parliamentary Dining Room - it was my thank you to him for being a good friend and someone who had taught me so much about the preparation and serving of food and wine. It was our best day together. And David was certainly no snob when it came to food. He was a fan of my Mother's home made fruit cake and home made apricot jam, which I gladly supplied him with whenever I could. I am so glad that David and Sumitra got to meet my parents when I got married to Marisa in Melbourne in September 2006. My Dad is currently fighting his own battle with Cancer, and David, despite his own battle, was deeply sympathetic and supportive. Coincidentally, a very nice lady that I worked with during my first year in Canberra, Sumitra Manning, eventually became David's partner - later moving in with him in Palmerston. Go figure - I had nothing to do with how they met - but it was so wonderful to see David fulfilled in that part of his life. David was a great story teller - and as a man who had travelled the world, preparing food for thousands and thousands of people during his lifetime, he had many a story to tell... ... for example, when he was working in the Middle East for the British firm Wimpey in the 1960s - which was building aircraft runways in the desert somewhere, David returned to London quite cashed up - literally - he went to buy a brand new Mini with a briefcase full of cash. He must of stood their in the showroom, all chuffed, and looking rather debonair in his Carnaby Street attire, whilst the salesman rang the Bank of England to determine whether the notes were legitimate and had not been stolen! Of course, the salesman apologised profusely when everything was confirmed, and David was not offended in the slightest - how could he have been as the proud owner of shiny new Morris Mini. I am especially grateful for also having got to know David's former wife Catherine and daughter Jessie - and am glad that Lucas and Jessie have blessed David and Catherine with three beautiful grandkids. Finally, I know that David is now free. Free from the pain of his affliction. Free from the worries of the World. But not free from the people who truly loved him, especially Sumitra - I know he will hold a place in their hearts for all time. David would have turned 70 on 27 July of 2011. He didn't quite make it. I know that David had a good life - and to quote him, he saw 'many wonderful and sad things in his life' - but that happiness and sadness made David the man that he was - a generous., thoughtful and giving individual. One of kind. Rest in Peace my good friend. Joe Fonte Melbourne, Australia