Fiji Friday: South Pacific Food & Wine Festival Dinner with Manu Feildel
There’s no escaping the Manu Feildel madness even if you’re as far away as Fiji. Food lovers, women and kids everywhere have fallen for this charming chef.
I was lucky enough to have him (almost) all to myself for a good thirty minutes while at the South Pacific Food & Wine Festival recently. Of course, once one person noticed it was Manu that I was talking to, a queue to take photos with him quickly formed!
From our chat, I learned a few things –
- While I sometimes struggle to understand him on TV, it is much different in person – his accent is entirely sexy and just so captivating
- He lives and breathes his job as a celebrity chef; he absolutely loves live cooking demonstrations and mentioned the Good Food & Wine Show as one of his favourites
- My Kitchen Rules takes five months to film one season and the most recent season actually finished filming in December! Wow, that’s a long time to keep a secret about the winners!
- This was his first time in Fiji
- He’s fascinated by the cannibalism stories (which led to talks of pan-fried brains – not human brains obviously! LOL!)
- He has a positive perspective on food bloggers but admits he doesn’t have time to read what bloggers write about him or L’etoile
The festival dinner takes place at Moo Moo Restaurant, located at the luxurious Westin Resort & Spa on Denarau Island. The dining room is chic yet relaxed. It’s exactly what you’d imagine fine dining in Fiji to be like – a cozy but elegant open beach hut set-up complemented with the humidity of a breezeless night.
The dinner is less about Fijian cuisine and more about the application of traditional French cooking techniques with beautiful local Fijian produce. Manu’s style of cooking makes French food appear so casual and accessible and it definitely allows the quality of the fresh seafood to talk for itself.
Mini brioche loaves are served upon arrival. They’re warm and decadently fluffy. Slices of butter however, are served in small deep round bowls, causing much awkwardness at every table.
Entree course is Manu’s signature boudin. His classic variation is typically with scallops but this tonight is being switched out for prawns. The texture of the sausage is divine! It is light, soft and has a similar texture to tofu. Every mouthful is like taking in a cloud of sea. The prawn bisque is full of that crustacean intensity and pairs with the satin smoothness of the prawn boudin very well.
Manu is a man of much charisma and he certainly knows how to work the crowd!
Main course is mahi mahi with parsnip puree, pickled onions and speck, another classic Manu dish. Mahi mahi is a local gamefish that has a similar texture to Kingfish, which is what Manu would normally use. It has a firm meaty flesh which is transformed into something rather remarkable. I think the best way to describe the texture would be to say it is delightfully gelatinous. The dish overall has beautiful round hearty flavours that I really enjoy.
And for dessert, a simple, yet sophisticated poire belle helene. The toasted almond slices, poached pear, vanilla icecream and chocolate sauce makes a delicate end to the night.
This 3 course signature dinner was held on Wednesday 14th March 2012 at Moo Moo Restaurant, Westin and cost $245FJD ($132.30AUD).
Find out more about the South Pacific Food & Wine Festival 2012
I’d also like to take this opportunity to share with you some pictures of the devastating floods in Nadi which are happening right now. Something which blew me away from this trip was how content and cheerful all the locals were. It is the hospitality of staff which makes a trip to Fiji so memorable. It is so heartbreaking seeing them affected by this natural disaster. The conditions in Nadi now look so unreal as just over a week ago, it was a perfect holiday destination. Tourism is the backbone of Fiji’s economy so I do encourage you all to visit it some time in the near future. If not for the food, for the welcoming people. My thoughts are with all of those that are affected.
P.S. I know I’m a few days late with this post but keep an eye out every Friday for the rest of my Fiji stories
JENIUS travelled to Fiji and attended the South Pacific Food & Wine Festival as a guest of Tourism Fiji with special thanks to Mike Parker-Brown