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Christine Manfield brings India to eightysix

Amanda Whitley

My first ‘real’ job, fresh out of uni in the early ’90’s, was working for a teeny little publicity firm on William Street in Sydney. It was far less glamorous than it sounds (and paid a pittance), and involved a daily schlepp to the Kings Cross post office, large bag of mail in hand. Each return trip, there was one little ritual I would never miss…I would peer into the windows of Paramount restaurant in Potts Point, and fantasise over the menu. It was my dream to one day eat there.

That dream never came to fruition, as I moved cities before I made enough money to eat at fine diners, but I did buy Chef Christine Manfield’s excellent Paramount Cooking cookbook, which became a kitchen essential, and – 10 years after I first peered through those windows – experienced her exquisite cuisine at Universal in Darlinghurst.

The doors of Manfield’s restaurants are now shut, so opportunities to taste her food are few and far between. In the last 12 months, she has taken over the kitchen of Braddon’s eightysix twice: firstly to whip up some spectacular desserts, and then a menu of contemporary Asian favourites in July.

Prawn Toast with Yuzu Mayonnaise, one of Manfield's creations at the last eightysix pop up.

Prawn Toast with Yuzu Mayonnaise, one of Manfield’s creations at the last eightysix pop up.

To celebrate the release of her latest book, A Personal Guide to India and Bhutan, the legendary chef will fire up the burners for a two night Indian take over.

“It will be great to again work with a team I respect and admire, and I look forward to recreating some of the Universal magic in eightysix’s busy busy space,” says Manfield.

Manfield takes over eightysix's kitchen.

Manfield takes over eightysix’s kitchen.

Manfield discovered her love of cooking through travel, remarking that we learn about culture through food. These days, she leads culinary tours everywhere from Tasmania to India, and her recently released book “captures the essence” of India and Bhutan, from the best places to sleep and stay, to where and what to eat.

“India defies description. Each journey is a discovery; every corner is mysterious and relatively un-interpreted. The sheer panorama can take your breath away, its energy palpable and infectious. It pays to delve into the very heart and soul of the country to experience the unexpected. At its best, India is a heady mix of adventure, exotic flavours, delightful surprises and intoxicating memories. It offers a cornucopia of colours, textures and tastes,” Manfield writes in the book.

“India’s food is anything but homogenous…You could be invited to share home-cooked food at the family table in a private house, savour delectable snacks from a street vendor, or experience the thrill of an early-morning train ride.

“The type of food on offer changes according to the region and may vary from one stop to the next. Every journey is like a microcosm of Indian life – and the old adage that the journey is as important as the destination was never truer. Indian chefs and home cooks are exploring new culinary frontiers and offering more diverse experiences, while their restaurant culture is flourishing, so there is much to explore and experience.”

Salted Duck Egg and Sticky Rice Cakes, pomelo, green chilli nam jim, one of the dishes at the last eightysix pop up.

Salted Duck Egg and Sticky Rice Cakes, pomelo, green chilli nam jim, one of the dishes at the last eightysix pop up.

The book serves as inspiration for this latest pop-up experience, and Manfield will be serving up her “signature, diverse, bold, inventive, dynamic flavours.”

And keeping very much in line with the food philosophy of eightysix’s Gus Armstrong, she says that the “most important thing is maintaining the integrity of the dish – it should be simple, packed with flavour, and leave a lasting impression.”

“I find Canberra a great audience – the dining scene has come ahead in leaps and bounds, and the success of the last pop up showed there was a place in the market for this type of event.”

This is a rare chance to sample recipes from her world famous books, and to have a chat with the master herself. Seats are still available – booking details below.

the essentials

What: eightysix pop up chef event – Christine Manfield
When: Reservations are available for dinner on Wednesday 2 December, and lunch and dinner on Thursday 3 December.
Call: 02 6161 8686
Email: [email protected]
Web: eightysix.com.au

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her ‘spare time’, she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She’s done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women.

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