Interview - Luke Mangan

November 2011

The Man Behind the Brand

The full chef profile for Luke Mangan is an inspirational story for emerging chefs and also proves to be an intriguing tale of business success for inquiring industry followers. Since the release of his autobiography ‘The Making of a Chef’ in November 2010, Luke Mangan’s Salt enterprise has continued to expand; less than a year later, his contribution to the Gold Coast’s culinary scene, Salt grill at Hilton Surfers Paradise opened up for a hungry audience ready to savour the celebrated chef’s newest menu.

In 2012 there will be a few new additions to the Luke Mangan brand; plans are underway for both a Salt café and Salt grill restaurant in Jakarta at the end of 2011, followed by a Salt café & wine bar in Singapore and a Salt grill in Bali. In terms of business expansion, the opportunities seem endless, and the developments now span way beyond what's written in 'The Making of a Chef', though none can discount the importance of this influential biography.

Interview - Luke Mangan

Profiling Luke is hard to do without reference to his autobiography, ‘The Making of a Chef’, as it truly outlines his journey to fame in the foodie world within Australia and beyond. His chef status was born in part from the success of Salt at The Kirkton fame years ago upon earning 2 hats and ‘Best New Restaurant’ acclaim from the Sydney Morning Herald in 2000. However, the full story of chef Luke Mangan stems from childhood and explains more about the man behind the fine food.

We were given the opportunity to speak with Luke while he was abroad in Japan, taking care of his international ventures in Salt grill Singapore and Salt Tokyo. Since much has been written on Luke Mangan and he’s a familiar face on television, we indulged in a few good humoured curiosities peppered with some pertinent career type questions and he gracefully obliged despite a bit of jet lag.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Passionate – about the industry; simple, as well. Relaxed.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

Rose & Chardonnay. Not a lot of food. I travel around a lot so I shop for the moment. Mum’s homemade tomato chutney and a Dijon mustard may be on hand.

Is there any food you don’t like?

Sea urchin. The flavour doesn’t sit well because it’s pretty full-on and dominating.

Shoe size?

Size 9.

Favourite movie of all time?

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with Jimmy Stewart. I’ve seen it about 20 times. It shows the protagonist what a powerful influence he has on peoples’ lives.

Reportedly you spend a lot of time answering emails so what do you do for fun once the business side of things is wrapped up for a bit?

I enjoy nice long lunches with friends and going to the movies; also barbecues and simple pleasures… It’s all good.

With five books out we’re looking at the most recent release, your autobiography ‘The Making of a Chef’. How did lady luck play her cards to ensure your story was accurately told to the world?

I have a publishing deal with New Holland and wanted to tell my story, making it an autobiography about cooking. The intention was to inspire young chefs, including those who may be struggling, and since I directed how the book was put together we kept everything in that I felt was important.

Regarding your Sir Winston Churchill quotation, ‘a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty,’ the opening to Part Three, what are the difficulties for you these days and what opportunities lie within it?

My businesses are doing really well so things are good; we’re in a good place and that will continue… There’s a lot of negativity around though, so I make sure to keep an eye on the figures & emphasize that every customer who walks through the door counts.

Interview - Luke Mangan

October 2011 sees the opening of your newest restaurant, Salt grill at Hilton Surfers Paradise in the Gold Coast. What’s new and exciting here?

It’s my style of cuisine, but a little different. I really enjoy Surfers Paradise and just hope it’s going to be fun for people.

In ‘The Making of a Chef’ you’ve written of your personal and professional relationship with Lucy that eventually evolved into friendship. Anyone special in your life at the moment?

There’s always someone special in my life.

When you’re having a romantic evening, do you ever surrender the reins in your kitchen and if so what’s your weakness -a tip for chefs of the female persuasion?

I'm always open to someone cooking for me and a simple barbecue with plenty of wine will surely hit the spot.

Your last cookbook, released November 2009, ‘At Home & in the Mood’ covers the whole gamut of meals; what’s your favourite meal of the day?

I’m into long barbecue lunches.

To better define Luke at home… Are you a cat person or a dog person?

I don't have a pet right now, though if I did it would be a dog.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life who would you have cast in the role of Luke Mangan?

Paul Newman when he was younger.

Read more about Luke Mangan's work in the AGFG book review for his November 2009 cookbook 'At Home & in the Mood'.

Read more about about the man behind the brand and his extensive restaurant endeavors on the offical Luke Mangan homepage.

Excerpt from Luke Mangan's website:

Amongst his pursuits, Luke regularly donates his culinary skills to both community and industry organizations to raise money for charity. He supports Camp Quality, Starlight Foundation, Royal Hospital for Children, amongst numerous others. He is the co-founder of the Appetite for Excellence hospitality awards program which promotes the development of young chefs, waiters and restaurateurs in Australia.

Luke was recently presented with a ‘Friend of Australia’ award; the program which is run by Tourism Australia, is extended to a select few, whose outstanding achievements and contributions give them a voice on the world stage, assisting to promote Australia as a travel destination.

From a family of seven boys who grew up in Melbourne, Luke currently lives in Sydney but travels constantly to his restaurants and events around the world.