REDUNDANCY did not stop one Southland chef from plating-up his passion.
Instead, he got creative.
After losing his job due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Invercargill man Richard Knight, also known as Chef Manu, decided to start his own business unique twist.
Recognising a gap in the market, he and his wife, Clare Knight, came up with the idea for Chef on Call, a business where Southlanders could indulge in a hassle-free, fine dining experience, all in the comfort of their own home.
“Although Covid was hard, there was a silver lining because it pushed me into doing what I had a passion for,” Chef Manu said.
From sous vide crayfish to lemon citrus tarts with gold leaf, fruit and mascarpone, the theme of the menu was “elegance”.
“I buy all the ingredients and cook in front of them while they just sit back, relax and enjoy themselves.”
As far as he knew, there was no other service in Invercargill like it, he said.
Guests would have the opportunity to meet with him prior to the booking for a consultation, where they could choose from a list of Chef Manu’s signature dishes.
From there, he would buy all the ingredients, cook and present his creations and clean up afterwards, he said.
“There’s still a lot of people who aren’t ready to go out to restaurants and want to stay in their bubble.
“It’s also good for parents of young children to worry about being on duty like they would if they went out to eat.”
Not your average cook, Chef Manu had more than 40 years of cheffing experience as the previous owner of two Wellington restaurants, and had cooked in numerous five-star hotels, luxury resorts and on remote islands throughout Australia.
He had also cooked for A-list celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and even made Morgan Freeman a Kangaroo burger when he was in Australia filming a movie, he said.
“The kind of meals I’ll be cooking are something [Southlanders] aren’t going to see in restaurants here.”
A month since launching the business, the pair had seen booking numbers continue to rise, he said.
From mid-winter Christmas functions to birthday celebrations delayed by the lockdown, interest was growing.
Chef Manu said the next step would be looking to collaborate with more local producers and butchers to achieve an authentic, Southland culinary experience.