Interview: Christine Manfield

Annabelle Sheldon

Culinary Queen Christine Manfield is regarded as one of Australia’s leading female chefs. Author, food writer, food manufacturer, presenter, teacher and traveller, Manfield has taken inspiration from the stimulating tastes and spices from the many cultures she has visited. The master behind Legendary Paramount restaurant in Sydney which closed in 1993, she now runs an equally successful and tantalisingly delicious two hated restaurant Universal in Sydney’s inner east. We spoke to Christine about her favourite spices, her tips for busy mums in the kitchen and why she loves to cook with Australian produce.

1. What are your five favourite ingredients to cook with?
Pork, eggplant, chilli, quinoa, spices.

RECIPE: Honey harissa eggplant

2. What are your five most used kitchen utensils?
Stick blender, juice extractor, mortar and pestle, wok, Chinese steamer.

3. Which cookbook did you most enjoy putting together and why?
Fire (2008) and Tasting India (due out in Oct this year) - combining food and travel is the ultimate experience.

4. What three spices do you have to have when cooking?
Turmeric, cumin, chilli and at least 10 more - to get really started.

RECIPE: Stir-fried tumeric squid

5. You’re currently writing your sixth cookbook, what is the inspiration behind it?

Traveling to India several times a year for the past decade or more - Tasting India is my story of collecting heirloom recipes across modern India from the mothers of India.

RECIPE: Ginger squid salad

6. What’s your number one cooking tip for busy mums?
Buy fabulous (organic and sustainable) produce and cook simply, with confidence - it's all about flavour!

7. What’s the best cooking advice you have ever been given?

Develop your taste memory bank - have an intrinsic understanding of flavour's and how they are best combined and layered - get flavour and texture right before you think about the visuals.
RECIPE: Coconut and lemongrass chicken soup

8. What do you love about Australian cooking?
The freedom to explore, to cross cultural boundaries.

9. What’s your favourite Australian ingredient and why?
Murray cod (an indigenous fish) - though it has become seriously restricted for future sustainability.

10. What types of things would you cook with this ingredient?
Pan roasted with either cavolo nero (black leaf cabbage), braised fennel and anchovy or a spiced turmeric coconut broth, spanner crab and green mango salsa.


Foodie insider: restaurant reviews

Christine Manfield official site