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How Home & Away’s Stephanie Panozzo met her long-distance partner

For Home and Away actress Stephanie Panozzo, food is the way to her heart. So when she met talented cook Josh Kelly six years ago, and he made her a curry in his wood-fired pizza oven on their first date, she knew she was “on to a good thing”.

“What can I say? I’m Italian and I love good food!” Steph tells New Idea with a big smile.

These days, Steph and Josh cherish meal times even more, because for the last three years they have been navigating a long-distance relationship.

Steph, 32, relocated to Sydney after getting cast as Eden Fowler in Home and Away while Josh, 34, remained in their hometown of Melbourne.

“It can be challenging at times,” Steph admits. “Sometimes you just want to go home and have your person be there, but we’re in a good groove with it now.”

From FaceTiming “countless” times each day to ensuring they catch up in person every two to three weeks, Stephanie says they make it work.

Stephanie first crossed paths with Josh when she was working as a receptionist at their mutual gym.

“I hadn’t met him but a friend mentioned I should meet Josh so I searched him on the gym database. I was such a stalker!” she confesses.

Not long after Josh made contact and asked Steph out on that fateful first date.

“We lived together pretty much throughout the long Melbourne lockdowns so it is a bit strange to spend so much time apart now,” Steph shares. “But we are both absolutely following our dreams and passions and we’re so proud of how each other is thriving.”

When she’s back down in Melbourne, Steph loves “getting on the tools” and helping out in Josh’s mobile wood-fired pizza catering business, Lil Ellens.

“I do sometimes get recognised or have people ask me if I’m Eden while I’m dishing up pizza. It’s pretty funny!” she says.

Fortunately, Steph and Josh will get to spend more time together in person soon, when he temporarily relocates to Sydney during the winter months.

“He’s not so busy then with work because there aren’t so many events on, so we’ll actually get to be a ‘normal’ couple who live together again for a while” she says.

Of course, her own work schedule on Home and Away is always jam-packed.

“I’ve been so incredibly lucky with my storylines with Eden,” Steph says. There’s “never a dull moment” for her and Nic Cartwright, who plays Eden’s love interest Cash, and the star is “so grateful for that”.

Stephanie says for now she and Josh are happy with where things are between them – even if it means racking up the air miles.

“We’ll have to see what happens,” she says with a laugh when asked about their future.

“I am so happy now. Work is really good and Josh is just the best. “I’m proud of everything he’s achieved in his life so far and I know that he feels the same way about me.”

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