Q&A with Halliday

In conversation with Manu Feildel

By Amelia Ball

10 Dec, 2020

Chef and TV host Manu Feildel has spent more than 20 years in Australia, working in some of our best restaurants. In that time, however, there’s still one Australian wine he hasn’t grown to love.

Chef Manu Feildel with a glass of wine

H. Was there a particular bottle or moment that made you fall in love with wine?
MIt was when I was working at [famed former Sydney restaurant] Bilson’s. As I learned about writing menus and paring food with wine, that’s when I started to understand wine and fall in love with it. As I learned more about food and how flavours work, that all started to click with the wine.

H. Coming from France, what do you love most about its wines?
MYou can taste the sun and the soil!

H. What's been the biggest surprise for you with Australian wines?
MTo be honest, the biggest discovery is how good some of the Australian wines are, although I find most Australian shiraz a little too heavy for my liking.

H. Which wines or styles are you loving right now?
MPinot noir, riesling, gamay… My list goes on. There are not many styles that I don’t like.

H. Do you have any other favourite drinks?
MIt’s been incredible. I love my whiskies, and my favourite style of beer would have to be IPA. 

H. Is there any wine style you can’t learn to love?
M. As mentioned, I find Aussie shiraz a little too heavy, but I’m sure I could learn to love it – if there was nothing else to drink. 

H.  Do you collect wine?
MYes – but no. I love to get recommendations for good wine, but I drink them too quickly. I don’t believe in keeping expensive wine just because it is expensive. I simply enjoy wine when I want and don’t save it for special occasions.

H. How would you describe your collection?
MHalf-full and half-empty – just like my glass!

H. What’s your all-time favourite food and wine match?
M. A good riesling with my wife’s Malaysian food. 

H. You have your own range of sauces. Do you believe in pairing wine to the sauce or to the other elements on the plate?
M. Of course it’s to the sauce! The sauce is what brings the meal together, so you need to pair the wine to that and not the individual elements on the plate. 

H. What’s the one dish you think everyone should know how to cook?
MA good one-pot wonder, such as beef Bourguignon or coq au vin.

H. Is there a wine that isn’t great, but you love anyway? 
M. Yeah, Australian shiraz isn’t great, but I love cooking with it anyway.

H. What’s your favourite piece of wine advice?
M. Never use an expensive wine for cooking. It’s a myth that you need to cook with a wine that you would drink. Don’t spend more than $20 per bottle.

This is an extract from a story first appearing in issue #56 of Halliday magazine. 
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