Another Australian chef taking his home-country's produce to the globe is Luke Mangan, who has extended his Salt restaurant brand into Tokyo and Singapore. He plans to open in Jakarta and Bali in 2012 and has Shanghai in his sights.
“I really like to promote Australian produce where we can; it is something I am very passionate about as I believe we have some of the best produce in the world,” says Mangan.
“Ten years ago Australia was looking to the rest of the world for chefs and ideas and I’d say the rest of the world is now looking at us for our produce and our style of cooking.”
The 41-year-old Mangan has a swathe of offshoots to his business, including cookbooks, a newspaper column and TV shows in the US and Australia. He also has Salt grills on three P&O Cruises ships and is a consulting chef for airline Virgin Australia.
The secret to his success? “I am lucky,” he says. “I get up in the morning and I love what I do, so if you can do that, that’s a start, but it’s also about employing the right people to work with and manage those restaurants, and to share my philosophy.”
“I nearly threw it in several times, but I got there somehow...”
It hasn’t all been an easy ride for Mangan.
Six years ago, in what he describes as the “worst 12 months of my life”, Mangan was forced to shut down his first two restaurants – the original minimalist Salt in Sydney’s Darlinghurst and uber-sexy Bistro Lulu in nearby Paddington – and walk away from a third – Moorish at Bondi. Mangan has also sold out of several other ventures, including one he started with a partner in the United States.
Mangan may have hit a rough patch but it didn’t hold him back for long. He was determined to move on, and luckily for him, enough influential people had walked through the doors of Salt to help him get back on track.
That included Sir Richard Branson, now a friend of the chef, and a certain Mary Donaldson, who was a regular before she encountered her prince. The week before the royal wedding between Donaldson and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, the former Sydney marketer invited Mangan to Denmark to cook a series of Australian-themed dinners. He’s since been made a Friend of Australia for his work promoting Australian food globally.
Mangan grew up the youngest of seven boys in Melbourne. When he was expelled from school at 15 for disruptive behaviour, he walked into Two Faces, a top-class fine dining restaurant where one of his older brothers was a chef, and asked the owner for a job. Told he would have to work long hours, Mangan promised he was up to the task.
In truth, Mangan hated much of his four-year apprenticeship. It was lousy pay, even after a hard slog of up to 16 hours a day, and Mangan was often landed with the menial jobs of washing dishes, peeling potatoes and shelling peas. “I nearly threw it in several times, but I got there somehow,” he says.
Please Login or Register to post comments