Manu's recipe for success is simple: deliver outstanding, home-cooked meals prepared with love.
This year, Manu 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.
He adds: “I’ll be looking for some great Kiwi flavours, and seeing what this country’s home cooks have to offer. I haven’t spent a lot of time in New Zealand personally, so it’ll be great to get around the country, meet some incredible people and try the food.”
Manu is no stranger to innovative cooking. 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, Manu 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 Sydney’s 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.