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Family, food and travel: Manu’s perfect balance

The My Kitchen Rules' star has cooked up a great new adventure.

He might crave adventure and dream of travelling the globe, but it’s something that Manu Feildel (42) grapples with as a family man.

Filming his new show, TVNZ 1’s Around the World with Manu Feildel, he reluctantly waved goodbye to his partner Clarissa Weerasena and their one-year-old baby girl Charlee for an entire month of travel.

“It’s always hard to be away from home for so long, especially when you’ve got a little one and they grow so fast,” Manu tells the Weekly. “It’s tough, but you’ve got to balance your life and make sure you do things that you want to do as well.”

Fifteen years after the idea first came to him, Manu’s taking on the challenge of travelling the route of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days and experiencing it through his food-obsessed eyes.

The twist is he must complete the trip with only $21,400 and in 30 days. He can wash dishes, cook meals, even busk to top up his kitty, but there are no cushy rooms or business-class airfares.

“A few years ago, I offered the idea to [Australian network] Channel 7 and they weren’t quite interested. I kept knocking on the door and then they finally agreed to co-produce it with me. You know when you have a dream, you just need to follow through and do whatever you can to make it happen.”

Manu, who is originally from Nantes in France, moved to Australia 16 years ago. He’s no stranger to Aussie television having starred on MasterChef, Dancing with the Stars, and, of course, My Kitchen Rules alongside Pete Evans.

While most women would want their partner at home when they’ve got a new baby, Manu says Clarissa was as happy about the show as he was.

“My family were aware of the idea a long time ago, so the fact that I got to sign on for it, they were very excited for me.”

As if being away from his family wasn’t tough enough, Manu had a gruelling travel schedule. Beginning in London, he went to Dubai, India, Hong Kong, Japan, the US and then finally back to England.

“The fatigue comes in really quickly when you’re on the plane every three or four days. But I was so excited by the project, I was just going on adrenaline,” he laughs.

Next year will bring Manu across the ditch to take on the role of judge for My Kitchen Rules New Zealand.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time in New Zealand, so it’ll be great to get around the country and meet some incredible people, and try their food.”

But for now, you’ll find Manu back in Australia with Clarissa, Charlee and his son Jonti (11), watching his show on TV and reliving the wild adventure.

When asked if he splurged on anything during his trip, Manu confesses he spent his last few dollars on a bottle of Champagne.

When he got home, the first thing on his checklist was to hug his family, but catching up on sleep was a close second.

WATCH: Manu Feildel’s daughter is a chip off the old block

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