Manu Feildel says the food is the star of the new series of My Kitchen Rules but concedes sometimes the personalities shine just as bright.
"The passion for food and the level of skill is outstanding this year but the real test will be seeing how the team's relationships cope with the pressure cooker environment of the kitchen," says Manu.
Manu says the cooking this year is heavily influenced by the lifestyle and heritage of the contestants, from surfers who love Balinese culture, to twins with respect for their Greek family recipes.
"You can tell when something is made with love and passion; it will flow through every element on the plate from the look, touch, smell and taste of the dish."
Manu admits this series will see teams test themselves and whilst he encourages creativity and ambition, if you cannot pull it off in the finished product, the risk could see you ousted from the competition.
"There are a few risk takers here and I find that very exciting. In some cases it will result in high scores but not everyone will succeed."
Manu is no stranger to innovative cooking himself. After completing a chef apprenticeship at his father's bistro, he was bitten by the travel bug and packed his apron and headed for London.
Although he spoke no English, he began work at The Caf�� Royal before rising through the ranks at restaurants such as Les Associes, Caf�� des Amis du Vin and Livebait.
In 1999, Manu flew to Melbourne where he worked at Toofey's for a short while before heading to Sydney.
After six months working alongside fellow My Kitchen Rules judge Pete Evans at his Hugos restaurant, Manu opened the kitchen at Hugos Lounge in Kings Cross. Manu ran the kitchen for 18 months before he moved to Restaurant VII. During his reign, the restaurant's exciting fusion of French and Japanese cuisine earned a coveted Two Chef's Hats from The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
In 2004, acclaimed Australian chef Tony Bilson approached Manu to open his new venture Bilson's at the Radisson Hotel. In its second year, the restaurant was awarded Two Chef's Hats and Three Chef's Hats the following year.
More success followed with the opening in March 2009 of his own restaurant - L'��toile in Paddington, Sydney. Specialising in classic French bistro food, it too has been recognised with a Chef's Hat.
In 2011, he released his first cookbook, Manu's French Kitchen, through Penguin Books; won Dancing with the Stars; hosted the primetime show Dinner Date and was crowned Chef of the Year at GQ's annual Men of the Year Awards.
He released his second book, Manu's French Bistro, in 2012.
The end of 2013 showed no signs of slowing down with Manu announcing plans for his first Melbourne restaurant Le Cirque with fellow chef George Calombaris. Manu also became engaged to his partner Clarissa Weerasena.
Outside of television, writing for magazines and books and running his restaurants, any spare time he has he likes to spend with his son Jonti.
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