Meeting with the effervescent Grace Cauchi from the Gozo branch is always a pleasure and one finds it difficult not to want to turn it into a whole day of just sitting and talking about life and its vicissitudes with her! Grace radiates an air of calm and wisdom beyond her years and we can see why buyers find her so easy to deal with. She really listens to what people have to say and is a firm believer in the truth, openness and fairness towards all.
As one of the group’s top residential agents, her days and weekends are occupied choc-a-block seeing vendors, buyers and notaries but she always makes time for her family and her passion of good food! Grace can be a hothead and will go nine rounds with anyone who is not prepared to tow the line or do things absolutely the right way…as she is an ardent advocate of honesty and transparency in everything she does.
We peppered her with some questions and these were her responses:
We want to know who Grace the person is. Can you tell us in about 100 words?
I have been married to my husband Laurence for 8 years and we have two children, Warren and Mariah. I have always been the independent and adventurous type of person that will make choices on my own. I do not like to depend on anyone to be there with me or to hold my hand. I think of myself as an honest, easy-going, hard working woman that tries (but not always succeeds!) to keep up with simply everything that needs to be done. I have a passion for cooking and being there for whoever needs me… even if it’s just for a Parmaham Ftira for lunch! I do have a temper though, but I am willing to give 100% of myself but if anyone hurts or betrays me, I take it very hard.
Tell us about your younger days, about growing up and also about your family?
I was born in Blacktown, New South Wales, Australia in 1978 as the 4th born out of 5 siblings: I have 3 sisters and 1 brother. My parents emigrated from Gozo’s village of San Lawrenz to Australia after they got married in 1971. I had a great childhood in Australia, with a large backyard to run around in and play games with my siblings. We then moved back to Gozo when I was 10 years old and I, for the first time discovered this beautiful island. It was a place where I could run free in our village, with loads of cousins, aunts, uncles and all 4 of my grandparents and even 1 great-granddad! I spent most of my time outside exploring the valleys and enjoyed countless days at Dwejra Bay where we had a boat house. I always ended up looking like an orphan and was constantly over-tanned as a child! Those are truly some of my beautiful memories.
What attracted you to join the Frank Salt Team?
I was a mother of 2 and at home with a part-time job as a chef and needed a career change. After working in the catering business for over 20 years, I decided to apply for a position as a letting agent as I thought it would be an amazing job that I could manage, especially with the flexible hours. Frank Salt has always been a big name in real estate in Malta & Gozo, so who better to take the risk with? I had 2 interviews with them and they saw something in me that I didn’t even see, but evidently they knew from the start that I will succeed. A year later I switched to residential sales and this has been the case for almost the past 8 years!
I love the fact that this job is a whole mixture of different jobs all in one: it is an office job, being a chauffeur, a tourist guide, a host, giving advice… there are so many other job titles that apply that I cannot even begin to mention them all here. Being a people-person and meeting different types of personalities with knowing how to relate to them gives one the ultimate satisfaction… but then again, you will find the one odd personality that is impossible to deal with! But, I am never afraid of a challenge, being able to guide even them to the right decision of finding the perfect property is my ultimate aim.
I studied for a diploma in psychiatric nursing when I was still a student, which didn’t work out. But I loved the working experience I picked up in the hospitals and even in Mount Carmel with the patients there. I will have to say that these are experiences that will be with me forever.
Tell us your secrets about multi-tasking…does it help you as an agent?
O Yes, I can multi-task! You have to be able to, being in my position with 2 very active kids and a busy lifestyle to keep up with. I am not terribly organized and I am very forgetful, but I can deal with many things at once that need to get done and knowing how to manage the time you have available is the most important way to deal with it effectively. Being a property agent, you also never know when clients are just going to show up and want to view a property… so you have to be prepared for that. So yes, multi-tasking does help!
What advice will you give to someone who wants to become an estate agent?
Be prepared: you will have to work hard and put in the hours, you will have to know what is available on the market and always be prepared for your next client. Professionalism is what will make you succeed in order to be the best, so always keep yourself informed with any changes. If you think you can take the seriousness of this job lightly, as just a side job, think again! Being an estate agent requires dedication, understanding and willpower.
We believe you have a background as a chef in the catering industry. Can you tell us about it?
I was brought up in a home where my mother loved cooking and throwing parties for our friends with an abundance of homemade foods; this is what really inspired me and made me love to cook. I started in the catering business when I was 14 or15 as a waiter and then moved up in the business relying on my own experience and knowledge… until I ended up as the head chef in one of the best known restaurants in Gozo! After I had my children, I still did it as a part-time job and again worked with an amazing chef and owner of his own restaurant. This was where I continued to learn more about the importance of what we provide in addition to every plate of food we serve. I can only thank Chef Patron Joseph Spiteri at Beppe’s restaurant for encouraging me to keep my passion towards food and cooking alive.
I am a junk food lover, but with my family’s history of heart disease I have always been very aware of the dangers of junk food and the diseases it can cause. I now know that I’m not in a position to enjoy it daily and as freely as when I was a teenager. I try to eat as healthy as possible with the exception of the occasional junk food meal during the weekend. Knowing how to cook gives me the satisfaction of being able to explore options with nutrition and knowing its limits. I have also introduced this to my children at a young age instead of giving them unhealthy foods constantly, which is really a main concern I have for children’s health that are growing up today.
Do you have any hobbies and if so, what are they?
I don’t have time for hobbies in my life right now, but I do try and join my kids in anything they may be doing. At times I may even join them in the occasional basketball game!
Do you like reading and do you have a favourite book or author?
Oh how I loved to spend time curled up with a great book…but ever since I had my kids, I end up sleeping with the book on my face! My favourite authors are Danielle Steel (I have a large selection of her books waiting to be re-read!) and also James Patterson…one of my other favourites. I actually bought ‘The Treasure Hunters’ (a children’s series) a few months ago for my 12-year old son to read, but I also read them in order to encourage him. This way we have something else to discuss besides video games!
Who will be first your first choice to have supper with when it comes to public figures that have influenced your life? It can be anyone in history or current.
At the moment I would have to say Johnny Depp! I have always loved his movies and with all the drama going on in his life right now, I’m sure he would love a nice homemade cooked supper to enjoy and forget about all the rest 🙂
As a chef with extensive experience, you must have a favourite dish! Tell us about it and do you make it yourself still?
This is a question I have been asked many times. Working in a number of kitchens I mostly had the opportunity to set my own menu with various popular items, new flavours and dishes that initially weren’t so popular… but afterwards they always ended up being a hit on the menu! But for me, this has always been a difficult question to answer as I generally love all food and I will cook almost anything: just lay out the ingredients in front of me and I will invent something with whatever is on hand… and I can guarantee you, it will always end up as one amazing dish!
Do you like living on Gozo and if so, what are the perks of living there?
As I said earlier: it is an amazing place to live and enjoy your childhood, being able to have a life where you can roam free and feel safe. Children can enjoy the outdoors with not so much as a single worry from me. I myself find it great to have everything so close to one, including family and friends. Of course, as years go by, things have changed and are always going to evolve, but for me Gozo is still the gem it always has been. If I need something that we don’t have on the island (which comes to only a very small fraction), I know that Malta is just a ferry ride away.
Are you still friends with people you have grown up with or know from childhood?
Gozo, being a small Island, makes it easy for one to stay friends with whomever you grew up with as you will bump into them without any planning to do so! I do still have a childhood friend in Australia, but we are not in contact as much as I wish to be.
Tell us about a favourite memory or a toy from your younger days!
A favourite memory? The one I have is of our dog Bozo: he was a very intelligent German Shepard that used to play tag with us in our backyard. If you didn’t exit the game once he caught you, he would pull you out to the side himself and continue trying to “tag out” the other players! He was an amazing animal.
What are your favourite TV series or shows?
‘Grey’s Anatomy’. I anticipate every new episode to be released weekly and sometimes it seemingly takes forever! I have seen all 16 series 3 times over and I am still doing the rounds on series 17 and 18 🙂 I just love the drama and the surgeries involved.
If you were an inventor, what would you invent or be working on at present?
A robot that can clean the whole house for me and not just the floors! Hopefully someone is already working on it!
Which film have you seen over and over again and enjoyed every time?
I love ‘The Perfect Storm’. I am not a sea person and I easily get seasick, but the storyline, the real life drama and events of this movie always gets me. I am a huge fan of any movie that revolves around a true story.
If you could retire tomorrow and did not need to work, what would you do?
I would move to a quiet area surrounded by nature, mountains if possible… and enjoy whatever Mother Nature has on offer.
Imagine you are at karaoke night. What song will you be singing and will someone sing with you?
EASY! ‘I WILL SERVIVE’! This song has been a highlight to me forever when I go out with my colleagues. I always manage to get hold of the microphone and then most of them end up joining in the chorus. George and Katya are usually my back-up singers!
Are you adventurous with food and have you ever eaten something strange or unusual? If so, what?
Yes, I am up to tasting new flavours and textures, but I am not adventurous enough where insects are involved! The closest I got was eating a Maltese specialty of snails… I can at least say that I tried them, but never again!
Is there anything you hate doing and if so, why? Would you go as far as paying someone to do it?
Tough question! Yes OK, I have a phobia of walking on anything that I can see through… whether it is walking on glass tiles or see-through stairs, I just cannot do it! I can’t explain it but my legs just go numb. If I needed to get somewhere and this formed part of the route I had to take, I would go around another way even if it took longer or I’d even be willing to pay someone to do whatever it is for me on the other side.
If you came second in a competition, would you sulk or be OK with it?
I won’t sulk but I would try to reason why or what happened… and how could they have won! 🙂
Tell us about something funny that has happened to you that you will never forget!
Once I had a viewing with clients and the particular house we were seeing was supposed to be vacant… but instead we found the father of the owner in one of the bedrooms with his girlfriend for an escapade!
If you did not live in Malta, where would you see yourself?
Back in Australia in the place I was born. This is simply because I always try and imagine what would have been different if we did not move back to Gozo.
Give us the best piece of advice you will share with the youth of today…
Enjoy life and forgot about pleasing everyone else! The only person you have to please is yourself. Be respectful and know how to make the right decision when you need to.
Did you have a great or awful time at school and would you relive some of the times if you could?
I had a bad experience with a teacher when I was in year 6, right after moving here from Australia. To tell the truth, you never really get over it and it is not easy to forgive what she put me through. On the other hand, my secondary years made up for all of it and I loved going to school then as I tried to involve myself in as many activities as possible. Being able to relive the moments with all my classmates again would be amazing!
If you had a warning label attached to you, what would it say?
“Woman in a hurry…..one that doesn’t hold back anything that needs to be said!”
Tell us about the best party you have ever been to!
I have been to many parties that I have enjoyed, but the one that will always stick with me is my wedding party! Having both my children there with all my family and friends was the best party I could ever ask for.
Can you get along without your mobile phone for a weekend?…. and whatever the answer, elaborate!
I actually could do it physically, but mentally it would be too stressful because I would be thinking all weekend: “What if someone tried calling me?” or “Is there is an important e-mail or message to reply to?” Yes, for a day I would to able to but not a whole weekend I’m afraid!
If you had a choice, what would be your superpower?
Being able to eat whatever I feel like and still have the prefect figure (which – if you know me – I have never had!)
What motivates you to keep going?
My family, the kids especially… as most of what I do is for them in order to have a better, easier future ahead of them.
What will you do if you had a time machine?
Go back 12-13 years and spend more time with my mother and be sure to take my children with me so they can finally meet her.
Some fun facts about Grace we'd like to share
When it’s time to party……vodka cranberry is my favourite! When it comes to wine, either red or white… it does not matter to me as both will do the same job of providing some relaxation from the daily stress.
I have never been an early riser unless I really need to on the day. I do most things I need to during the night and also end up going to bed very late.
I love spring as the weather is great, the island is blooming with green landscapes and it means that summer is coming.
It doesn’t really bother me as I feel I have succeeded in life. The only thing that worries me about the future is that I may not have as much energy as I have today!
An ideal night out for me is to wear something nice and go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant that can offer perfection and quality in everything they offer. Going out with friends for a relaxed meal will also do!
Yes! The Northern Lights is top of my list, then visiting Australia and South Africa is also there. I had a “before 40” bucket list and I am happy to say that I did them all!
I will take all 3 after a long, tiring day at work 🙂
Property Sales Consultant
Grace is a property sales consultant at our Gozo Fortunato branch