How I overcame adversity to get my spark back

A sick baby and nightmare set of circumstances forced Kate Weiss to rethink what was important – and discover a passion that has changed lives.

Kate Weiss’s life has never followed a predictable path.

Born in the UK to an English dad and New Zealand-born mum, she recalls spending many childhood days sitting on the kitchen bench watching as her mother cooked up a storm.

“Mum was a trendsetter when it came to food, she was definitely ahead of her time,” Kate says. “I was bought up with a wholefoods background before it was popular.”

Kate also had an adventurous spirit and after finishing her arts degree, took off to live in France, Germany and finally Israel where she would meet now-husband Tal in “a holiday romance that turned into a seven-year stay”.

When I gave birth to Amy, everything changed

The young couple moved to Australia when Tal was offered a position at Monash University and before long, Kate was pregnant with daughter Amy.

As a healthy 28-year-old, she says she had no idea that her life was about to change dramatically as she struggled with a complicated pregnancy and birth.

“Six months into my pregnancy it became clear that all was not well and after a month of waiting, Amy was delivered prematurely,” Kate says.

“A tiny wee thing, she had a will to survive from the very first minute but she didn’t grow and develop like other children and it was very, very challenging.”

A diagnosis and a complete change of life

It would be five long years before Amy was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome.

Squeezed out of her job managing a sales team for a US-based IT company while living thousands of kilometres from her UK-based family and struggling with her daughter’s disabilities, Kate says she fell into depression.

“All of my plans for the future had come crashing down and there were times when I was staring at the same spot on the wall for hours without a thought in my head,” she recounts.

“I knew that to be the mum that Amy needed me to be, I had to rekindle and rediscover my passion for life. I needed a project.”

A desire to nourish and inspire others

Drawing on her happy “foodie” childhood and a love of spice markets, Kate decided to start her own business. In 2006, Table of Plenty was born.

“Tal and I have a philosophy of integrated living, which we call a ‘life of plenty’,” she explains.

“We believe if you nourish yourself from the inside out with healthy and delicious food, it can be medicine in so many ways.”

After beginning with dukkah, the range now includes probiotic kefir, mueslis, porridges and snacking rice cakes.

From grinding nuts, seeds and spices in her Melbourne kitchen to running an international wellbeing company, Kate, now 49, says behind it all is a conscious effort to help others.

The brand is an active champion of the disability community through donations and through creating hundreds of thousands of hours of work for people with a disability.

For Kate, it also offers flexibility to be “the best mum possible” to Amy, now 19, and 14-year-old Ethan.

“It’s been the wildest years in so many ways – in among COVID-19, we’re launching 15 new products into the market,” she smiles. “I’ve definitely got my spark back.”

The healing food Kate Weiss loves

“My favourite healing food would have to be soup! It just ticks so many boxes,” Kate says.

“Soup is a comfort food. It warms and nourishes like a hug. Soup is so versatile, a meal, a snack. It can be a medicine too – load it with ginger, cayenne, leafy greens and probiotic kefir. And of course, don’t forget a nourishing chicken broth loaded with veggies.”

Kate’s tip – try thickening a blended veggie soup with ground cashew or almonds rather than cream, for protein and good fats.

“Then a touch of nutmeg or mace to lift the flavour,” she smiles.

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Written by Liz McGrath.