In a career stretching back more than 40 years, pioneering chef Michael Manners has been a major player in helping shape the vibrant Sydney dining scene of today.
Manners learnt his trade in France during the early 1960s. Later, the late George Perry-Smith, regarded as the father of modern British cooking, patron of England's renowned Hole in the Wall restaurant in Bath, passed on the ethos for fresh, local produce that Manners still nurtures.
1970 saw Manners open the bistro 'Upstairs' in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Sophisticated, even referred to as "ambrosial French Bliss" 'Upstairs' often had a queue, waiting for tables, stretching down the street.
After four years, he headed back to France for inspiration before returning in 1976 to open Glenella Restaurant and Guesthouse at Blackheath. It quickly became the Blue Mountains' gourmet retreat, and one of the state's great destination restaurants, regularly earning a two hats ranking.
In 1988 Michael and his wife, Josephine, opened a cookery school at Wentworth Falls. Shortly after, he was running the food and beverage course at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School. This was followed by a single hatted bistro called Table Manners in Katoomba.
In 1997 Manners moved to Orange to open Selkirks. In doing so, they gave an already vibrant food and wine scene the focus it needed - a champion restaurant. His impact on the region is still evident with chefs who have learnt from and worked for Manners going on to start successful restaurants in the area.
Housed in an elegant Federation-era country house, Selkirks combined contemporary flair with an old-world feel. The food was sophisticated yet simple; meat and charcuterie Michael's specialties. Selkirks was one of the state's great dining experiences, a tour de force of the bounty of the region. Selkirks was twice named Best Regional Restaurant in the Good Food Guide.
After selling Selkirks, Manners and Borg was established in 2005 where Michael and Josephine create wholesale charcuterie and restaurant quality "heat and serve" dishes.
This was Michael's third appearance at the Sydney International Wine Competition as the Competition's Guest Celebrity Chef.