2 minutes with Christine Manfield
Occupation: Chef, cookbook author, traveller
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
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.
Who were your culinary mentors?
After working at Petaluma Restaurant in the Adelaide Hills for a year or so, I moved to Sydney in early 1988 specifically to work with Phillip Searle at Oasis Seros, the benchmark of culinary excellence at the time. His creative vision, mentorship and direction was to have a profound effect on how I cooked, what I cooked, setting me in good stead for taking a leading role in my own restaurants. He taught me to push every boundary, to be daring.
What ingredients are always in your kitchen?
Eggplant, chillies, passionfruit, yoghurt, spices, fabulous olive oil, handmade butter, green vegetables for daily juice, the list goes on.
How did travelling the globe become part of your job as a chef?
Travel is what kick-started 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.
Words of wisdom to share with young women starting out in the trade?
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.
What's next in the pipeline for you?
Who knows? I manage a broad portfolio of culinary and travel projects, so these will continue and I am always open to what falls out of the sky - that's what makes life so exciting, to be responsive, ready and available to take up new opportunities, find new directions. The world of food offers infinite adventures that keep me deeply engaged with the food and restaurant world in Australia and globally
You can follow Christine on INstagram @christinemanfieldchef