Judge and co-host Manu Feildel has finally had his dream come true in the seventh season of My Kitchen Rules – an enormous serving of sauce! “I never thought I would say it on My Kitchen Rules, but there was too much sauce,” laments the cheeky French chef.
But one slip aside, he says the calibre of contestants this year is unbelievable.
“What I enjoy is how creative and 'chef-y' some of the contestants are. And that they are bringing different cuisines of the world to the table.” His recipe for MKR success is simple: deliver outstanding, home-cooked meals prepared with love.
He wants teams to serve up their favourite dishes, the ones that invoke nostalgia and good memories, the ones they know inside out. Just like the dishes he learnt from his mother and cooks for his own children - such as creamy cauliflower soup, tarragon roasted chicken and tarte tatin. And he wouldn’t mind seeing some "cheaper cuts of meat and unusual seafood, that other cuisines might use that we don't necessarily know in Australia”.
Manu is no stranger to innovative cooking himself. After completing a chef apprenticeship at his father's bistro, he was bitten by the travel bug and packed his apron and headed to London. Although he spoke no English, he began work at The Café Royal before rising through the ranks at restaurants such as Les Associes, Café des Amis du Vin and Livebait.
In 1999, Manu flew to Melbourne where he worked at Toofey's for a short while before heading to Sydney. After six months working alongside fellow My Kitchen Rules judge Pete Evans at his Hugos restaurant, Manu opened the kitchen at Hugos Lounge in Kings Cross.
Manu ran the kitchen for 18 months before he moved to Restaurant VII. During his reign, the restaurant's exciting fusion of French and Japanese cuisine earned a coveted Two Chef's Hats from The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
In 2004, acclaimed Australian chef Tony Bilson approached Manu to open his new venture Bilson's at the Radisson Hotel. In its second year, the restaurant was awarded Two Chef Hats and Three Chef Hats the following year. More success followed with the opening in March 2009 of his own restaurant - L’étoile in Paddington, Sydney. Specialising in classic French bistro food, it too was recognised with a Chef Hat.
In 2011, Manu released his first cookbook, Manu's French Kitchen. He won Dancing with the Stars in Australia and was crowned Chef of the Year at GQ's annual Men of the Year Awards. He released his second book, Manu's French Bistro in 2012 followed by his third book, French for Everyone in 2014.
He is currently writing his fourth book, due for release late in 2016.