Despite having worked in fast-paced and high pressure environments of renowned kitchens for over three decades, celebrity chef Manu Feildel is swapping out Michelin star meals for ration packs as he tackles a brand new pressure cooker: SAS Australia 2021.

A teaser trailer for season two of SAS saw Manu liken the army to the “stressful environment” of running a kitchen, but how much of his career has prepared him to take on what’s described as one of the most challenging physical and psychological environments in the world?

Somewhat destined to become a chef, the French-born chef followed in the footsteps of countless chef relatives when he began his training as an apprentice chef in his father’s restaurant at the young age of 15. Not long after, Manu packed up his knives when he headed to London, where he would continue to learn his trade for six years and work in several high-profile restaurants — then, Australia called.

Since moving to Sydney in 1999 the 47-year-old has opened several award-winning kitchens across both Sydney and Melbourne, including his own restaurants in the likes of Duck In Duck Out and L’Etoile.

Somewhat a mainstay of Channel 7, Manu became a household name after hosting the beloved cooking contest My Kitchen Rules for over a decade, before signing on to Plate of Origin in 2020 alongside former Masterchef judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan.  

In 2019, he added to his impressive TV personality resume when he joined the judging panel of ratings juggernaut Australia’s Got Talent, which has been complemented by a number of travelling cooking series such as Around The World With Manu.

His skills don’t stop at cooking either — prior to following his passion in the kitchen, Manu joined circus school at the age of 13 where he learnt juggling, unicycling, clowning and acrobatics, skills of hand-eye coordination that undoubtedly lent themselves to the chef’s experience on 7’s Dancing With the Stars in 2011, where he ultimately took out the win with partner Alana Patience.

In his personal life, Manu was previously in a twelve-year relationship with Veronica Morshead, with whom he shares a son, Jonti, but the pair split in 2009. In 2013, the celebrity chef became engaged to jewellery store manager Clarissa Weerasena, and the pair welcomed a daughter, Charlee, in 2015 before finally tying the knot in January 2018. 

Manu said his main goal of entering the SAS pressure cooker was to show his kids that “anything is possible”, especially as he goes head to head with his fear of heights during the Special Forces course.

You can watch chef Manu confront his fears on SAS Australia on Channel 7 and 7Plus.

Get the tea first! Follow So Dramatic! on Instagram, and tune in on Mondays to get your reality tea fix with the So Dramatic! podcast with Megan Pustetto.