Luke Mangan, Consulting Chef Virgin Australia: Ten Questions

Luke Mangan has many (chefs) hats. He’s the owner and operator of a number of restaurants in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan including glass brasserie in Sydney’s Hilton, and Salt and the World Wine Bar in Tokyo. He has three Salt Grills onboard P&O Cruise ships, and is the consulting chef for Virgin Australia.

As Luke unveiled the new Business Class menus on Virgin Australia’s Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi services, including Moroccan spiced lamb with couscous, lemon, almond and mint, and a horseradish and dill potato salad with smoked trout and salmon caviar, we grabbed a few minutes of his time to ask him Ten Questions.

Luke Mangan, picture courtesy Virgin Australia

What’s the best thing about your job?

There are so many things I love about being a chef; I get to be surrounded by great food all day and travel to new destinations exploring different food cultures and cuisines.

I’ve also met some really influential people and had the chance to cook for celebrities and royalty in the past, so that has definitely been a highlight in my cooking career.

If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?

If you asked me that back when I was starting out I would have said the hours! But with long hours comes lots of discipline and you become good at your craft.

These days I wouldn’t change anything about my job – I have built up a really good team over the years and each day brings new opportunities and challenges and it’s good to learn from these.

What’s something about your role that you wish people understood?

I think people forget that when you’re a chef there is a whole business side to running and operating restaurants. I also didn’t get this concept when I was first starting out, but over the years you learn that you need to be smart about your business decisions and ensure that you are overseeing all aspect of the business; even the mundane, everyday things.

What’s your favourite thing to do on your day off?

Day off?? If it’s a Sunday, I love going out for lunch with friends – somewhere like Sean’s Panaroma in Bondi for a long lazy lunch and a few nice glasses of wine.

I also love to cook in my own kitchen, especially if I am feeling adventurous and want to experiment with a few new dishes and flavours. I love a home cooked Sunday lunch, especially in winter – a roast or a big pot of soup never goes astray.

What’s a cheap and cheerful food secret you (usually) only tell your friends?

My secret foodie spot would be Happy Chef on Sussex Street in Haymarket, Sydney – they do an excellent Laksa! Best in Sydney.

I also love tinned spaghetti on toast which is not something I’m proud of… I always have a tin in the cupboard for days when I don’t feel like cooking.

 If money was no object, where would you go for lunch or dinner?

If money was no object I’d fly back to Italy to have lunch at La Sponda inside the Le Sirenuse Hotel – the food, the views and the overall setting of the restaurant is just magnificent; a true dining experience.

Where do you take a friend when they come to visit?

I always take them to a restaurant – because food is my thing! If it’s a sunny day, I’ll take them to lunch at Catalina’s for fresh seafood and a glass of Australian chardonnay on the deck – it’s the ultimate Sydney dining experience and a great way to show off the city.

What’s the best shopping experience in town?

Definitely the Eveleigh Farmers Markets at Sydney’s Carriage Works for breakfast, a good coffee and some take home fresh fruit & veg for my Saturday night cook up.

Is there a local tourist cliché that’s actually worth doing?

It would have to be a Sydney Harbour Cruise – might be a little cliché but we have one of the best harbours in world and it must be seen.

Is there a tourist attraction nearby that you can’t believe you still haven’t visited yourself?

It would have to be the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – have always wanted to do it and it is on my “to do list” but haven’t quite got up there yet….one day very soon.

Amanda spoke to Luke Mangan in his role as consulting chef for Virgin Australia and is sure he will enjoy the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb when he gets a chance to tick that one off his list. 

About the Author

As a journalist who loves to travel and is fond of a chat I'm oh so happy when I'm sharing travel tales and tips. When I'm not travelling or writing about it I can be found out and about with friends, curled up at home with a good book or watching an addictive tv show promising I'll stop after one more episode. Amanda on Google +

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