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My Kitchen Rules

Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays | TV2

Tanja and Gen (Queensland)

Tanja and Gen on My Kitchen Rules

Fun-loving sisters Tanja Smith, 36, and Genevieve Latham, 29, trace their love of cooking back to their childhood, growing up on a farm in Sheldon, Queensland.

As their parents - German-born Hans and Kiwi Maxine - worked the land, Tanja remembers her mother sitting her on the lawn from age three with a bowl of flour, a dozen eggs and water.

"They'd let me create my own mess", she says. "Mum would then bake whatever I'd made, although they were rarely edible, and let me decorate it with icing."

When little sister Genevieve, affectionately known as Miff, came along seven years later, Tanja showed her the ropes in the kitchen.

Those early days inspired a lifelong love affair with food that continues to this day. Now as working mothers, they use cooking as a means to escape the daily grind. "Cooking is an outlet for my creativity", Tanja says.

Genevieve adds, "I can't dance and I can't sing. But cooking is the one thing I feel comfortable doing."

Together, the sisters share a passion for fresh ingredients and teaching their children all about where food comes from.

"I don't believe you need to grate vegetables and hide them in spaghetti bolognaise", Tanja, mother of Caleb, 10, and Amelia, eight, says.

"I believe given a chance, kids will fall in love with vegetables in their natural state.

"They just need to know where they come from. That's why we get our children to assist in the growing and preparation of food."

Genevieve agrees adding her little ones - Annika, three, and Talon, one - have never touched processed foods.

Although balancing work and family life isn't easy, Genevieve believes it's all about time management and getting the children involved.

"I just get up that 15 minutes earlier so if it means chopping up vegetables while I'm eating my breakfast I do it", she says.

"I have the kids up on the bench with me so they can see exactly what I'm doing and where there food is coming from."

The Brisbane duo believes their closeness will serve them well in the competition. "We cook together all the time but also hang out with the kids and go camping together", says Tanja, who works as a client services manager. "We work really well as a team."

While plating up is Tanja's specialty, Genevieve - a sportswear manufacturer - is a whiz at desserts and even helped a friend bake a two-tier wedding cake last year.

"Sweets are my thing", she says. Tanja adds, "I do a lot of baking but she's the queen."

Simplicity is the key for the no-frills pair. "As working mums, it's all about getting good, wholesome food on the plate in a timely manner", Tanja says.

Genevieve adds, "We may not be the fanciest or the most experimental but we do meals that we know fill people up and that they will enjoy", Genevieve explains.