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Manu's French Bistro - Manu Feildel

Manu's French Bistro


Published: 1st March 2012
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Have you ever wondered how the French make entertaining at home look so effortless? Join Australia's favourite French chef, Manu Feildel, as he guides you through one hundred classic bistro recipes that will expand your dinner party repertoire and impress your guests.

Whether you are looking for clear advice on how to cook traditional French fare like coq au vin, cassoulet or raspberry souffles, or whether you are keen to experiment with Manu's new twists on old favourites, like cauliflower soup with Roquefort cheese, roast duck with spiced honey glaze or chocolate creme brulee, you will find something to inspire you in this stunningly photographed collection of his favourite bistro hits. There is something for everyone, from simple dishes that you can whip up on a weeknight to more challenging recipes for when you have a little more time.

Manu's passion for the art of fine dining and his unique flair for entertaining, honed through years of experience, shine through on every page.

About the Author

Manu Feildel is the charming French-Australian chef of the acclaimed L'etoile Restaurant in Sydney's Paddington. He is well known and loved for his role as a co-host on Channel 7's breakout television program, My Kitchen Rules, and has made appearances on the first season of Channel 10's MasterChef Australia as well as four seasons of Ready, Steady, Cook. Raised in Brittany, France, after leaving school, Manu trained as a circus performer before discovering his calling as a chef, following in his father's footsteps.


The restaurant business is in my blood, and I grew up cooking and eating the classic bistro fare that French cuisine is renowned for all over the world, such as vichyssoise, goat's cheese salad, coq au vin and duck confit. My father was a chef who ran his own bistro in Saint-Nazaire, France. The restaurant served simple food, such as salads, pates and terrines, and was always filled with workers from the town's shipping industry. After a brief stint as a circus performer in my early teens (seriously!), I realised that circus life wasn't for me. So, every night after school, from the age of 15, I worked at my dad's restaurant, serving customers and cleaning up after they had gone home.

Eventually I moved behind the scenes and into the kitchen, where I specialised in preparing the entrees, a job that I loved. These were all cold dishes, prepared in advance and stored in the fridge, then plated up at the last moment. As the kitchen was only small, the menu was quite limited. Even so, with just Dad and me in the kitchen, we still managed to serve an average of 200 customers every day for lunch. Dad also ran the hotel attached to the restaurant, so I soon took over behind the restaurant burners at night and didn't get to bed until after midnight. It was a busy life, but it gave me a taste for cooking.

From the moment I set foot in a restaurant kitchen, I knew this was what I wanted to do. Filled with enthusiasm for my new profession, I returned to my home town of Nantes, where I began my two-year apprenticeship at a restaurant called Rôtisserie du Palais. It was the hardest job I have ever had! The head chef was a bit scary, and I had to juggle my work as the only apprentice in a very busy kitchen with studying the theory of classic cuisine at the French equivalent of TAFE. The experience in my father's bistro stood me in good stead, as I specialised in cold entrees when I started. The life of a chef isn't glamorous, and one of my tasks was to clean all the fish for the restaurant (and I was only allowed one apron each week!) – it was horrendous. However, many of my friends had also decided to become chefs and their apprenticeships were equally challenging, so I figured it wasn't so bad. The second year I worked there, the head chef and I decided to work our way through the French master chef Escoffier's complete works. Not only was this an excellent grounding in the basic techniques and dishes of my homeland's cuisine, but it was also an amazing experience that I still treasure, as it laid the foundations for what I do today.

With my apprenticeship behind me, the adventurer in me led me to London, where I landed without knowing a single word of English. I lucked into a job in the kitchen of the institution that was the Café Royal. Not only was it said to be Oscar Wilde's favourite watering hole, but Winston Churchill famously waited there to find out his political fate. (Sadly, it became a victim of the GFC in 2008, when it closed its doors for the last time after 143 years.) Compared to small bistro kitchens in France, it was a revelation to be part of a kitchen brigade of over 30 chefs. Somehow, I again started off making cold entrees – which may be why there are so many recipes for these in this book!

After working in various London restaurants over the next five years, I joined the acclaimed seafood restaurant Livebait, initially in Waterloo and then in Covent Garden. Each day we would order the finest fish from our suppliers, then devise a menu of five entrees and five mains to make the most of what was available, and bake our own bread in the tiny kitchen. I thrived on the challenge of creating a fresh menu every day, eventually becoming head chef. I relished the freedom and creativity involved in running such a small but perfectly formed place, and was thrilled when Livebait was nominated for best seafood restaurant in the UK in 1998.

Once again, the urge to travel struck, so in 1999 I set off for Australia, to try my luck here and follow my dream of one day owning my own restaurant. The rest, as they say, is history. After spending some time in Melbourne, I came to Sydney to visit a friend. Taking my CV with me on my first trip to Bondi Beach, I got a call back from Hugo's in Bondi. I was asked to run Hugo's Lounge in Kings Cross when it originally opened, and that's how I ended up meeting Pete Evans, my mate and co-host on My Kitchen Rules.

After stints in restaurant kitchens around town, including six years at Bilson's (which was awarded three chef's hats by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for three years running while I was head chef), I finally had the opportunity to open my very own French bistro, L'étoile, in Sydney's Paddington. This is where I get to serve the kind of bistro food that I love from my formative years in France, and it is what inspired the idea for the collection of recipes I share here. This book is a tribute to my favourite classic bistro dishes, such as Twice-baked Cheese Souffles (see page 23), Confit Pork Belly with Apple Puree (see page 130) and Raspberry Souffles (see page 161), as well as those that I have taken inspiration from and then played with over the years, giving them my own little twist, such as Chilled Tomato Consomme with Prawn Salad (see page 18), Tuna Rossini (see page 84) and Chocolate Creme Brulee (see page 164). I love taking everything I have learnt as a chef over the years and injecting it with my own personality and tastes. I hope that you will love to cook and eat these dishes as much as I do.
Manu Feildel

It seems that Manu Feildel was destined to become a great chef from the moment he was born – his great grandfather was a pastry chef, his grandfather and father were chefs, his cousin is a chef in the United States and his mother is a great cook. But, as a child, he saw his future on the stage rather than in the kitchen, and at 13 years old he joined an amateur circus school.

By the time he turned 15, Manu had decided that the road to becoming a professional clown was a very long process, so he started as an apprentice in his father’s restaurant. After a year, he progressed to a fine dining restaurant where he finished his apprenticeship.Shortly after, Manu was bitten by the travel bug and he packed his knives and headed for London.

His first job at The Cafe Royal was hard, to say the least, as Manu didn’t speak any English. But his perseverance paid off and, after working at restaurants such as Les As- socies and Café des Amis du Vin, he took up a position as Chef de Partie at the seafood restaurant Livebait and that’s when he says he really began to understand and love the career he had chosen. Manu stayed with Livebait for couple of years, progressing to Sous-Chef and then Head Chef with the nomination of best seafood restaurant in the UK in 1998.

In 1999 Manu flew to Melbourne where he worked at Toofeys for about 6 months before heading north to Sydney. After 6 months with Hugo’s at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, he opened the kitchen at the new Hugo’s Lounge in Kings Cross. Manu ran the kitchen for about 18 months before he moved to Restau rant VII with its exciting fusion of French and Japanese cuisine (2 Chef’s Hats from Sydney Morning Herald).

In 2004, Tony Bilson approached Manu to open his new venture Bilsons at the Radis son Hotel. In its second year of opening, the restaurant won 2 Chef’s Hats, and in its third year, this accolade had increased to 3 Chef’s Hats. In 2008 Bilson’s won three chefs hats for the third year running.

It seems Manu’s career has turned full circle, as he returns to his roots cooking contempo rary French cuisine. In March 2009 Manu took over his first restaurant in Paddington, Sydney, where he gets to share his passion for modern French Bistro food.

Manu has had a successful first year at L’etoile with his first Chef’s Hat awarded in August, and winning the “Shoot the Chef” competition for the Sydney Good Food Month. In January 2011 Manu opened his 2nd restaurant ‘Aperitif’ in Sydney’s Potts Point with fellow Boy’s Weekend star Miguel Maestre. Manu first appeared on Australia television with TEN’s Ready Steady Cook and was a regular presenter on 9am with David & Kim for two years. In 2010 Manu continues his success as a chef on TV. The beginning of the year saw Manu as co-host and expert judge on Seven’s My Kitchen Rules which was a huge role on prime time television. He will begin filming for the second series in the next few months and is excited about the new home cooks he will judge this time around. A ‘Mothers day Boys Weekend Special’ saw Manu reunited with friends Gary Mehigan, Adrian Richardson and Miguel Maestres and a second series of Boys Weekend is in the pipeline. The series was sold to over 100 countries worldwide. Boys Weekend is a 13 part series which first aired in Australia in early 2009 on the Lifestyle Food Channel. It was also shown on Network Ten on Sunday nights from December 2009.

In addition to his TV commitments Manu has just also released his first cookbook. Manu is very excited about his 1st publication and sharing his many recipes with readers. He is now starting work on his 2nd cookbook to be released in 2012. He also has a regular feature in BBC Good Food magazine and a weekly column in New Idea.

Visit Manu Feildel's Booktopia Author Page

ISBN: 9781921382697
ISBN-10: 1921382694
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 1st March 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 28.7 x 23.9  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 1.27
Edition Number: 1