IndyCar: Darren Manning, celebrity chef

By Andy Darley

CalendarSaturday, March 8th, 2008

 
 

It’s not quite up there with Helio Castroneves strutting his stuff on Dancing With the Stars or Danica Patrick sprawled uncomfortably on the beach for Sports Illustrated, but Darren Manning has done his bit to put a human face on IndyCar with a spot of steak-bashing.

His mentor was Jeff Stafford, executive chef at ‘Mo’s A Place For Steaks’ in Indianapolis and 15-year veteran of open-wheel racing, including seven as the air jack/vent man for drivers Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy and Jimmy Vasser.

Manning, who says he’s pretty serious about his cookery, spent an hour chopping and sautéing vegetables and grilling steaks for a feature to be shown as part of IndyCar’s pre-season show, which goes out on March 28 on ESPN.

Gordon Ramsay it ain’t, but for Manning that’s not for want of trying: “I got started because I just like messing around, chopping things up. As a racing driver, you’re at home a lot of the time. You just like messing about.

“From karting, I did a lot of my own mechanicing, so I liked using my hands and seeing the finished product. Then it got to the stage where I could cook for myself. I just like making my own dishes and cooking something out of what’s in the kitchen.

“In fact, I’m looking at putting a new kitchen in. I’ve got no space for all my blenders and all my pots and pans, knife blocks, all my different utensils and things. I’ve got quite a collection going. I like all my nice stuff. If you use that stuff a lot, it’s nice to have good quality instruments.

“Just like your race car, you’re not going to put in second grade oil or tires or nuts on your race car, you want to use the best stuff at all times. That makes it even more pleasurable when you’re chopping with nice Japanese couple hundred dollar knives, and using nice pots and pans.”

Here’s a video teaser, from the IndyCar site:

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