Christine Manfield has been involved with the Sydney Food And Wine Fair every year since it began in 1991, so it seems fitting she should be chosen as the official face of this year’s event.

For the past 14 years the chef and restaurant owner has donated her time, resources and (of course) food to the annual festival, a fundraiser for the AIDS Trust of Australia which has become a highlight of Sydney’s events calendar.

Organisers are especially thrilled to have Manfield on board this year considering she closed her Sydney restaurant Paramount and now spends much of her time in London running her new eatery East@West.

I like London, but I like it because I know I can leave, said Manfield, who has been splitting her time between Australia and England for 12 months. I’m there a real lot, but I took a team over who worked with me at Paramount, so there’s an incredible level of consistency. They’re my clones basically. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them, so it’s very much a team effort even though it’s my name hanging off the door.

The main difference between the food scene in Sydney and London, she said, is that Londoners are only just starting to open their doors and mouths to more international flavours. They’re expanding their horizons and discovering there’s food outside of Europe, which is the reason I’m there and doing what I’m doing.

At the moment there’s a palpable excitement with food there because the poor bastards have been stuck for so long with their crap food, she said. So there’s been an enormous growth in better restaurants and what they offer across the board in the last five years in particular.

Australia, on the other hand, has always been very much a melting pot with people from all over the world. And being a young country we take on all those sorts of influences, and so that’s where we have an edge.

Manfield was happy to share the recipe for one of her favourite dishes, Chilli And Garlic Eggplant Salad, with Sydney Star Observer readers. It’s about sharing, I’m not secretive, she said.

It’s got two of my favourite ingredients -“ chilli and eggplant, she revealed. It’s been around in various forms for quite some time. It’s a variation on one of the many eggplant dishes that have been published in my books.

Apart from the Food And Wine Fair being a fun day for Sydneysiders and restaurant owners, Manfield is keen to remind us it’s also a platform for a much more serious cause. You’re not just going out and getting a hamburger to eat in the park, she said. You’re handing money over for a much bigger and more important cause, and that is for research to get rid of this monster we have in our community.

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