Manu Feildel opens up about the Australia's Got Talent judging backlash

There's more than meets the eye with the talented chef.

By Karina Recchi and Zara Zubeidi
When My Kitchen Rules star Manu Feildel was announced as a judge on the rebooted series of Australia's Got Talent, there were a lot of questions from outraged fans.
What they wanted to know, for the most part, was what was a chef who is renowned for his role on a reality cooking show doing on a judging panel as part of a talent series?
Well, a lot, it turns out, as Manu tells TV WEEK that cooking was never part of the dream for him. Instead, as a teenager growing up in France, his heart was set on becoming a professional clown,and so, at 13, he joined an amateur circus school.
"We found a circus school where I lived," the star, 45, tells TV WEEK.
This recent negative reaction from fans isn't new to him either, he says.
"Everyone laughed at me, but my mum took me seriously," Manu recalls of taking a leap of faith to follow his dreams.
Manu says he's more than just a chef.
While his primary focus these days is in the kitchen, Manu feels he's as capable of judging the country's best talent as anyone.
"People say, 'Why are you one of the judges?' And I'm like, 'Why not?' You don't have to be qualified to appreciate something you're amazed by.
"Between the four judges [pop singer Nicole Scherzinger, actress Lucy Durack and actor Shane Jacobson], I think we have a good range of knowledge."
In fact, it's often forgotten what else Manu has achieved in the Australian entertainment industry in the 20 years he's lived on our shores.
Aside from being a co-host of My Kitchen Rules, his TV credentials include MasterChef Australia and Ready Steady Cook.
Manu showed his talent on the dance floor in Dancing With The Stars.
In 2011, he won Dancing With The Stars, and in 2018 Manu even made it on to the big screen as an actor in The BBQ – not bad for someone who gave up his dreams of being an entertainer to train as a chef in his father's restaurant before leaving France for a new life in Australia.
"I came here with no expectations," Manu says. "My career as a chef was getting stronger every year. And when I got offered my first TV job, I thought it could be a foot in the door and that I could do something about it. I don't take it for granted. I just worked hard."
As for what's next, Manu says anything he does now is just a "cherry on the cake".
"Everything I've dreamt of has been achieved," he says. "I'm in a good spot right now, so I just have to ride the wave."

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