Short, back and side orders
ASK Manu Feildel and he’ll tell you – he’s kind of a big deal … in Russia.
“I personally know I’m very appreciated there,” he tells TV Guide.
“I was filming in France with Channel Seven and this bus turned up and all these people poured out and they saw me, saw the camera and realised who I was. They went crazy, it was funny.”
The self-titled “Fr-aussie” (French-born Aussie) has travelled the world on the back of his profession as a chef, but both he and co-host Pete Evans know they have My Kitchen Rules to thank for their global stardom.
The show – created by Seven as an act of revenge programming against Ten’s cooking juggernaut, MasterChef nearly a decade ago – has proved as popular as its judges; now broadcast in 160 countries.
The local format – which mixes home cooking with lashings of dining table drama – has been adapted in 15 countries, with deals done most recently in Israel and the United States.
And, as season nine goes to air here from tomorrow, Evans and Feildel are preparing to cross the Tasman next month to host a second series of the New Zealand version.
But that’s not where the work ends for the duo, who are building personal empires on and off screen.
Evans partners in Brisbane and Perth restaurants, on top of TV commitments in the US, where he has hosted another cooking series, A Moveable Feast, for the PBS channel for five years.
“My other paleo show is on in Canada, the US, UK and New Zealand as well,” he says, still flying the flag for the controversial caveman diet he continues to evangelise.
Meanwhile, Feildel has signed on to design a new gourmet menu for Hoyts Lux cinemas, hot on the heels of his recent film debut in Shane Jacobson’s comedy The BBQ.
“You will probably laugh when I tell you, but I played an arrogant French chef. Everybody says it must have been a stretch but it wasn’t,” he teases.
If that sounds like a full plate, it is – with Feildel admitting “it’s getting hard to juggle, to be honest with you”.
“This year was tough and I’m trying to do less, but it’s hard when people keep coming and offering you another project,” he says.
Still, Rikkie Proost, Seven’s head of international development and production on MKR, says there’s no appetite to change a winning formula.
“Pete and Manu are superstars [and] we hope to continue our MKR journey together for years to come,” he says.
For fans, there will be more of what works: explosive personality clashes, bigger groups during the instant restaurant rounds and a longer season (interrupted by Seven’s Commonwealth Games coverage in April).
Playing down the midseason dumping of a female team from NSW, who reportedly “crossed a line” and became physical with other contestants while on location in Tasmania, Feildel defended the show from those who claim it has become more about the fights than the food.
“When you put a bunch of people around a table, you will always get different characters,” he says.
“We’ve got that this year, as usual, but Pete and I are there to judge the food not the people.”
In style: Manu Feildel and Pete Evans have found global fame as the co-hosts of MyKitchenRules.