MKR's Manu shows off his fun side in French adventure
VIEWERS will see a lighter side to Manu Feildel in his new cooking travel series My France With Manu.
The My Kitchen Rules co-host returns to his native Nantes in France and explores the food and produce across the region of Brittany, which he has not returned to since leaving at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a chef.
Feildel said he was keen to show more of the "real Manu" than viewers see on Channel 7's hit reality cooking show, in which he is seen judging the culinary creations of amateur cooks.
"I'm very proud of what we've created because it's exactly who I am, exactly what I wanted to show Australia," he told APN.
"I hope it is the start of something bigger, introducing the real Manu to Australia, where he comes from, how he started, how he became a chef, who is his family and how he got all the way to Australia."
Viewers were first introduced to Feildel on Channel 10's daytime cooking show Ready, Steady, Cook before he became a household name on My Kitchen Rules.
"The My Kitchen Rules judge is a great facet of me, but he's judging food and not having a great laugh with it," Feildel said.
"I love having fun."
Plenty of fun is had in the two-part series, which sees Feildel return to his childhood homes, surprise his family and cook in the restaurant where he started his apprenticeship at the age of 15.
While his parents come to visit him in Australia every year, Feildel has not been back to Brittany for more than two decades.
"It was emotional," he said.
"A lot happened in all that time. There were things that I've forgotten about, flavours I've forgotten about.
"I was upset with myself for a short time because I'd turned my back on France. It's an amazing country if you have the time to visit it."
My France With Manu certainly gives foodies plenty of reasons to book a trip, from palm-sized oysters to hand-harvested salt, organic pork, creamy butter and, of course, wine.
"Australians seem to think French food is really complicated, expensive and unhealthy," he said.
"It's not. There's so much more French food has to offer. I'm trying to pen people's eyes really to see what else is out there, just like there's not only pies and sausage rolls in Australia."
The first half of the series, which airs tonight, also features Feildel's lesser known talents as a former circus performer.
The 40-year-old becomes a clown for a day, easily falling back into the performance skills he learned as a teenager.
He pays tribute to his love of the art form in the name of his new Melbourne restaurant Le Grand Cirque.
While ratings juggernaut My Kitchen Rules is still a priority for Feildel, the father-of-one hopes My France is just the start of a series of travel specials.
"I'm hoping to go back (to France) very soon to do another special," he said.
"It's a small country but there is a lot to see."
My France With Manu debuts airs tonight and Sunday, April 13, at 7.30pm on Channel 7.