AGFG: In your opinion, which of your signature dishes best represents Manu Feildel at the moment?
MANU: As we are going into winter… I would say I'm a beautiful stew; warming, comforting, and great with a glass of red!
AGFG: In your introduction to ‘French Bistro’ you maintain, "I love taking everything I have learnt as a chef over the years and injecting it with my own personality and tastes.” How has judging on ‘My Kitchen Rules’ broadened your understanding of the food, personality, and taste connection?
MANU: Of course ‘MKR’ has furthered my career and as such has expanded on my connection between food, personality and taste, but I think that is increased everyday with every person you meet and new food you try.
AGFG: Ramping up to the finale of ‘MKR’ series 4, critics emphasize how personality driven the show is which distracts from the food focus. What’s your stance?
MANU: My job on ‘MKR’ is to judge the food, so that is what I do. I think it’s important to remember that the contestants are human beings and as such all have very different personalities, but for me the show is still about the food.
AGFG: Despite your rigorous ‘MKR’ shooting schedule, you try to oversee L’etoile on the busiest nights. Which of your tempting autumn dishes are currently on the menu for us to taste?
MANU: The menu at L'etoile changes seasonally and at present we have autumn options such as: entree chowder with mussels and a pastry top; a confit pork neck main with caramelised apple and sage alongside white bean puree and fresh bread; and for dessert, a classic peach melba.
AGFG: What autumn ingredients are most exciting to you this year?
MANU: I love mushrooms… so many different varieties and they are great in every sauce.
AGFG: Favourite seasonal food and wine match?
MANU: Duck with pinot noir.
AGFG: Which of your impressive ‘French Bistro’ recipes are your favourites at the moment?
MANU: Well they are all favourites of mine, hence putting them in the book. As we've recently had a cold spell in Sydney and are heading into winter, my pick right now would have to be braised beef checks with carrot puree.
AGFG: Your first book came from your head and heart, relaying recipes from your Mum such as her roast chicken with tarragon. With Mother’s Day coming up in May, we’ll soon be gift shopping. What level of home cooking Mums will love your first book and who’s the right kitchen fit Mum for your second?
MANU: I would say all cooking Mums will love my first book, ‘Manu's French Kitchen’, as its full of great home style dishes and basics that are great for any home cook. ‘Manu's French Bistro’ is my second book and better suited to keen cooks who want a bit more of a challenge and to expand their cooking skills and repertoire.