Speaking exclusively to New Idea, Manu takes time out ahead of the series big premiere to give some insight into his life at home with fiancee Clarissa Weerasena and their two children - Jonti, 13, and Charlee, 2.
You and Clarissa are in no rush to get married?
The wedding has been postponed a few times. Both our parents really want us to get married because that’s the thing that happens if we are in love, apparently. We are very much in love and the wedding is something we will do, but when is the question? Even though it means a lot, it’s not going to change the way we feel about each other. We’re planning to go away for the wedding. It’s something special to celebrate, so let’s do it well. They say: ‘Do it nice or do it twice.’ And I don’t want to do it twice!
Would you like to have more children?
I don’t think so. We are just too busy. It would be selfish just to have a kid for the purpose of having a kid. Being a parent is hard work, it’s a job on its own. The older you get, the harder it is to deal with it. We have two children, a boy and a girl, and we are happy with that.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I haven’t even thought about it! What I would really like to do is travel around the world and discover new food. There’s always something new to learn. I will probably end up really fat and have to buy two seats on the plane!
You’re so cheerful, yet you had a tough battle with depression a while back?
Yes, about three years ago when my beautiful restaurant in Melbourne got shut down. It was just after the little one, Charlee, was born and everything got a
bit too much. It was a tough time for four or ve months and it took a while to nd my con dence again. But now I’m running a new fast food project – Duck In Duck Out, which is all con t duck – so I’m happy, I’m back on track.
Is there any rivalry between you and your fellow judges?
It’s all made up, to be honest. It’s laughable, actually, because we are really friends. We hang out together, we go out together, we eat together.
And we heard you also have a movie role coming up!
Yes, in a comedy movie called The BBQ, due out on February 22, with Shane Jacobson and Magda
Szubanski. Guess what? I play an arrogant French chef – that’s the cherry on the cake! When they called me about it, I told them I had never acted before, but they told me: ‘Don’t worry, you will make it!’ It’s nice, something new, and hopefully it will be funny.
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