Newcastle has had its fair share of reality television stars over the years but none, perhaps, quite as colourful as the Fren family.
Mark and Cathy Fren own and run popular German restaurant Oma’s Kitchen with the help of their children, Victoria and Jonathan, and are about to make their television debut on Travel Guides.
Travel Guides challenges six very different groups of ordinary Australians to take on the role of travel critics at some of the world’s hottest tourist spots. Each action-packed trip ranges from the lap of luxury to bargain-basement thrills and the guides rate their stay out of five stars.
Mrs Fren told The Herald they were the “back-up family” for reality cooking series The Hot Plate two years ago so when they made the cut for Travel Guides they jumped at the opportunity.
“We all had to make sacrifices to be on the show, I mean, we’re a small family business, but I thought it would be a fantastic life experience,” Mrs Fren said.
“We might have very different personalities but we all agree it was the best thing we’ve ever done.”
The Frens had no idea where they were travelling to at any given time. All they were given was the average temperature at their mystery destination, a hire car, overnight accommodation in Sydney and a time to arrive at the airport the following day.
“Every day was a wonderful mystery that unravelled as the day went on,” Mr Fren said.
“It was a great experience to do together as a family because we haven’t been on a family holiday for such a long time. Of course we had our arguments and disagreements, but who doesn’t?”
The Frens will be watching the series premiere on the big screen on Tuesday night at their Watt Street restaurant and are looking forward to sharing a few laughs with customers, family and friends.
“Customers are already asking if Channel 9 fed us the lines and we’re like no, that’s just us. People who know us will know that’s just us being who we are,” Mrs Fren said.
Mr and Mrs Fren were both school teachers for many years and say they’ve already heard from former students and their parents who had seen the advertisement on television.
“I think people are going to get a lot of laughs seeing us well out of our comfort zone,” Mr Fren said.
Travel Guides premieres on NBN at 9pm on Tuesday, February 14.