MKR ready to rule the roost
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.”