MKR ready to rule the roost

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TV - DEB­BIE SCHIPP

HIS pas­sion for food has opened a world of ca­reer and life op­por­tu­ni­ties for Manu Feildel. As a young­ster, the French­man cut his cheff­ing teeth in his fa­ther’s bistro in France, then headed to Lon­don armed with a com­pleted ap­pren­tice­ship, but no English, to rise through the restau­rant ranks.

In 1999, he moved to Aus­tralia, work­ing briefly in Mel­bourne be­fore mov­ing to Syd­ney to work at Hu­gos restau­rant.

The boss who gave him a start at Hu­gos – Pete Evans – be­came his mate. The pair­ing came full cir­cle fi ve years ago when the duo took up roles on fl edgling cook­ing re­al­ity show My Kitchen Rules.

MKR, which fo­cused on home chefs pit­ted against sim­i­lar pas­sion­ate food­ies, be­came a jug­ger­naut. Last year, the fi nale was the most­watched TV event of the year.

The 2014 sea­son kicks off tomorrow night and it seems Feildel isn’t the only one whose ap­petite for the show re­mains – and the serv­ings are big­ger than ever. “The show had changed so much since that fi rst sea­son,” Feildel says. “There’s a lot more to it – it’s longer, there are more acts, there’s more food, it’s gone crazy.

“In sea­son one, it was hard enough for me to get in front of the cam­era and host a show. I was mak­ing the move from do­ing a bit of TV as a guest to host­ing a show – they are very dif­fer­ent roles. All I was think­ing was mak­ing sure I pro­nounced all my words prop­erly so all Aus­tralia could un­der­stand me.”

Fast- for­ward to sea­son fi ve and MKR now takes up half of Feildel’s year. “It’s six months on ( MKR), six months off,” he says.

“When I say ‘ six months off’ though, that means it’s the six months I have back in restau­rants ( he has L’etoile in Syd­ney’s Padding­ton and re­cently an­nounced plans for his fi rst Mel­bourne restau­rant – which he hopes to have up and run­ning by March).

“As I say to peo­ple [ about time away from chef du­ties], Louis Vuit­ton doesn’t sew ev­ery hand­bag him­self. He has a whole team do­ing that.”

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