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Home kitchen, where Manu’s heart is

Posted: 5am 29 Jul 2022

For celebrity chef Manu Feildel, cooking with his family has always brought him happiness – as a child and now and adult.

It’s a passion he will share with home cooks during Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival, which is on from August 19-21 at Apex Park, Woody Point.

The event kicks off the Tastes of Moreton Bay Feastival, a six-week celebration of the region’s producers and foodie culture. There are more than 40 events from August 19 to September 25.

“I think I was born in the kitchen, that was my earliest memory. My mother was a great home cook, and my dad was a chef, my granddad was a chef and my great granddad as well, so I think I was born with a spoon in my mouth,” Manu recalls.

“It’s funny, I never really thought of becoming a chef until I was 15 but, now I think about it, I was always loving food. I never pushed a plate away from me saying ‘I don’t want this’.

“I was always helping mum, either cooking or doing the washing up or something to do with the kitchen. Food was happiness at home.”

Unlike many people, Manu says preparing food has never become a chore.

“I mentioned happiness. For me it’s more relaxation. It’s something I can daydream at the same time – I can be cooking on the stove and just be in my own world. Cooking in the restaurant is different … it becomes a business but it’s also entertaining customers. It’s always fun,” he says.

“My wife and I, we just decide on the day what we want to eat and then we go shopping. Clarissa is an amazing cook as well. We don’t fight about who wants to cook, we just start cooking.”

Reaching bigger audience

Manu has shared his passion with Australian audiences since first appearing on Australian TV screens in Channel 10’s Ready Steady Cook in 2006, and then MasterChef Australia in 2009 and Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules from 2010.

He loves events like Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival.

“There’s a couple of layers – hanging out with my peers and my colleagues, friends … the other chefs. It’s always fun because we all work very hard and don’t necessarily hangout together often. We really enjoy it and we share the same passion,” Manu explains.

“I’ve been here 22 years and food in Australia 22 years ago wasn’t where it is now. I think the way that the food has become is because of sharing our knowledge and sharing our recipes and sharing our love of food. I love being on the stage and I love having fun doing that.”

So, what is he hoping people will take away from his cooking demonstrations?

“I think just simplicity of using best products. Queensland’s got so much to offer – amazing seafood, amazing fruits and vegetables, a lot of tropical herbs as well. It’s easy for chefs to come up with a simple recipe that is actually delicious when you use amazing produce,” he says.

“I used to do complicated things in the past, when I used to work in the fine dining industry, but now I just realised the easier it is the better it is because then people can go home and enjoy it again.”

What is Manu cooking?

“I’m using two local seafoods – I’m using prawns which I’m very excited about. I think prawns in Australia are absolutely delicious, nice and sweet especially when they’re fresh. I will butterfly local prawns with chargrilled snow pea and a warm dressing,” he explains.

“I’ve got to use the Moreton Bay Bug. I’m just going to roast the tail (until it’s) nicely caramelised and serve it with braised salad of turnips and radishes.

“What is great about the organisation is that we’re got sent a whole list of the local produce and it makes it easier for us to play with that and create dishes.”

He’s looking forward to his first visit to Redcliffe and believes events such as Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival are an opportunity to share the region with a broader audience and connect.

What does he say to people who think they can’t cook?

“Everybody is a cook,” he says.

“People who believe that they don’t cook is because they think they can’t. If they come to a show like this, it’s because they enjoy food. If they enjoy food, all they need to do is learn a couple of tricks of the trade.

“Simple food can be absolutely delicious. We’re not looking for fine dining we’re looking for home cooks doing some great food. I prefer to eat at someone’s house than going out to a fine dining restaurant now days.”

And if you use simple, fresh ingredients, you can’t go too far wrong.

Be inspired

See Manu in action at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival, where he will be presenting two cooking demonstrations a day on all three days, showcasing local produce.

To find out more about Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival and to buy tickets, head to the website

Tastes of Moreton Bay Feastival is delivered by Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism, with the support of key strategic partner, Moreton Bay Regional Council.

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