In our latest What’s Cooking, we talk to chef, author, gastronomic traveller and culinary ambassador Christine Manfield about how she has created an enviable life melding food and travel. Christine is not at all afraid of ‘leaning in’ to explore new pursuits and go to the edge of her comfort zone. In fact it’s the only way to grow, according to her.
Your name: Christine Manfield
Your business’ name: Christine Manfield
Where are you based: Sydney
How would you describe your business?
My career trajectory has morphed from chef to author to gastronomic traveller and culinary ambassador. I jumped into restaurant life in my early thirties, leaving the safety of a teaching career to become a chef without any formal training, to see where it would lead – it has been a non-stop adventure ever since, unparalleled experiences and a network of meaningful connections that I wouldn’t swap for the world.
I am a curious cook, a perfectionist inspired by the culinary melting pot of global flavours and textures, and have written eight award winning books – A Personal Guide to India and Bhutan, Dessert Divas, Tasting India, Fire, Spice, Stir, Paramount Cooking and Paramount Desserts over the past 20 years.
My professional life as restaurateur culminated in three groundbreaking restaurants: Paramount in Sydney 1993 to 2000, East@West in London 2003 to 2005 and Universal 2007 to 2013. I continue to collaborate with chefs and industry colleagues, hosting pop up restaurant events in Australia and overseas.
These days, I have a broad work portfolio. I am brand ambassador for Byron Bay Cookies, Director of Food for Pearl Catering and a national judge for Delicious Produce Awards and Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Young Restaurateur Awards.
I love juggling the many different facets and the challenges that come my way, it’s what keeps me engaged and excited. There is infinite scope.
What do you love about your job?
Travel is what kickstarted my life as a chef, so it has always been a part of my working life. I somehow managed to fuse my obsession for food and travel together into a meaningful working life. To me there is a natural synergy, always so much to learn through travel – not being afraid to put myself out there onto the world stage, being curious about new discoveries, seeking out interesting opportunities, challenging myself. My mantra is – life starts at the end of your comfort zone.
What part of your job would you gladly give away?
As a restaurateur, it’s the relentless hours and demands on your time, but then that’s all part of the package, there’s no escaping it, you just have to embrace it.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?
The enduring support and loyalty of my life partner Margie Harris. Her wisdom and support has guided and enabled me to achieve what I have done, she gives me the space to explore and follow through.
If you were starting out in business again today, what advice would you give the younger you?
Make brave decisions, stay true to your vision, establish benchmarks of excellence, find your voice and use it, lead by example, nurture talent and show leadership, be open to collaboration.
Tea or Coffee
Both – in equal measure
Sweet or Savoury
Both – for balance
Sunnyside Up or Down
Red or White
Both – and don’t forget Rose
Well Done or Rare
Your go-to snack
A sneaky little pastry
Thank you Christine for your words of wisdom and inspiration. Christine is a Females in Food VIP Member and we appreciate the mentoring and support she provides our community. To see more of Christine, she spoke at Females in Food’s launch event, ‘Flourish’, in December 2016 and images can be seen here or our Facebook live feed of the event here.
The Females in Food team