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REBEKAH PLAYS THE WAITING

Author: HEATH GILMORE
Date: 07/05/1994
Words: 766
          Publication: The Sun Herald
Section: Tempo
Page: 143
REBEKAH Elmaloglou is half my size, beautiful and a successful actor. So what would a soapie star order when she goes out to eat?

It seemed everyone wanted to know.

I waited. The waitress waited. And patrons at Bondi Tratt, a cafe overlooking Bondi Beach, also patiently waited for the actor to choose her food.

Dressed in a loose white shirt, black stretch pants, a $20 leather jacket from markets in Paris and white canvas shoes without laces, she casually smoked a cigarette (she'd asked if I minded before lighting it).

Finally Elmaloglou, made famous as Sophie Simpson in the television soapie Home And Away, opened her mouth. The woman voted one of the 10 most beautiful women in Australia and the 1993 People's Choice Best Actress was ready to order.

"Yeah, I'll have the caesar salad, thanks," she told the waitress. "The last time I was here I had a caesar salad and it was beautiful so I'll have it again."

The friendly waitress spun around excitedly. Later she would ask for an autograph. And patrons in the spacious Tratt settled back to their meals, knowing that Soapie Princesses have to watch their waistline like everyone else.

Australians have elevated girls such as Elmaloglou to an exalted level for portraying earthy characters who fall pregnant, turn into punks or any number of soap plot devices. So even their most banal public utterances or food choices assume a mighty importance.

Yet the girl who picks at the caesar salad is far from the girl-next-door image she presents. She is not from Ramsay Street, Summer Bay or any other Australian television landmark.

Elmaloglou was born in France but brought up in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Her mother is English, her father is Greek with a Turkish background. Dame Judi Dench (the British actor) is a cousin. "(She) got me the chance to talk with (actor) Steven Berkoff when he was in Australia with his solo show," she says.

Her varied background has led to an appreciation of many foods. "My grandmother cooks French, Turkish and Greek food beautifully. My mother was brought up in Kenya so she cooks great curries."

ELMALOGLOU, who lives in Bondi, likes the casual atmosphere of the local Bondi Tratt. "I like this outdoor eating on the corner of the beach. Good service, fine food and not an upper-class restaurant. I like to feel comfortable while I eat."

Bondi Tratt has a set Italian/modern Australian menu with additional daily specials on blackboards. Entrees include char-grilled octopus with sweet chilli dressing, local black mussels and, of course, the caesar salad. Popular mains are chicken breast with dijon mustard and baked double lamb cutlets.

I chose baked jewfish in fresh tomatoes, caper and olive salsa. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked but I found the salsa a bit too watery. The large serving with a side order of steamed vegetables cost $11.50.

Elmaloglou proclaimed her caesar salad, $7.50, an excellent preparation with cheesy mayonnaise sauce and good salty anchovies.

Fans haven't seen much of Elmaloglou lately but she'll be back on TV from May 23 to June 14 in a four-week guest spot on Paradise Beach, a show unwatched by the public, unloved by the critics and unloaded by Channel 9 last week. It will disappear from the screen in 10 weeks. Her role is a character called Karen Wolfe, described in the press blurb as: "Nineteen, rebellious, calculating, sexy."

Why this part? For heaven's sake, why this show? Elmaloglou laughed as she sipped on a mineral water.

"We had a lot of fun with that character. Working on Paradise Beach doesn't worry me. It's no big deal. It (the axing) has been on the cards for a while hasn't it? I just did my job and that was that."

 
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