FEATURED CHEF LUKE MANGAN
We catch up with Chef Luke Mangan and get his take on the future of the industry
1.Can you tell us about your current role?
These days I’m focused on my role as more of a restaurateur rather than solely a chef – these days I leave this to the younger ones. I oversee restaurants both here in Australia and overseas as well as the consulting chef for Virgin Australia’s business class. I also have several restaurants onboard P&O.
2. What has been some of the highlights of this position?
With restaurants overseas, on cruise ships and looking after Virgin Australia’s business class menu, the role of restauranteur keeps me pretty busy. I think the highlights of this job is the varied opportunities, meeting new people and travelling the world. No two days are ever the same for me. Being a restauranteur has given me the most amazing experiences. One day I could be serving business class guests on board a Virgin Australia chartered flight to Hong Kong then the next day cooking in the private home of a celebrity.
3. Can you tell us a bit about your career before this current position?
I started as a chef, working my way from the bottom, peeling potatoes and working double shifts as a kitchen hand to eventually owning my own restaurant in Sydney in 1999. Before this it was a hard slog, many hours in hot kitchens with no social life – but when I did finally open the doors to my own restaurant it was damn right satisfying. After all that hard work, the opportunities came – I got to travel the world and work, I got to cook for celebrities and celebrities also came to dine at my restaurants. I got meet amazing people and work with some seriously great chefs – being a chef brought me all of this, but it didn’t just come to me – I had to work for it.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?
I think the biggest challenge is keeping young chefs and hospitality staff in the industry. It’s a tough career don’t get me wrong. It’s not your average 9 to 5 job, the hours are gruelling and you miss out on a lot of social things. It’s hard to find and keep good apprentices these days. Skills shortage is a huge problem facing Australia’s hospitality industry and fewer young people are pursuing hospitality as a career.
5. What do you see as a possible solution to the growing shortage of chefs?
I think as leaders in the industry we need to keep our staff motivated and reward them for the good work they do – show them that this isn’t just a part time job but a rewarding career.
This is why I created the Inspired Series program, in partnership with Sydney TAFE. Through the program we provide hospitality skill sessions for commercial cookery and hospitality students. The goal is to shift how the hospitality industry is perceived, by engaging with Industry leaders and demonstrating to youth that hospitality isn’t a part-time job but a rewarding and varied career path. It is an integral part of the future to support and look after the next generation through mentoring, training and ensuring there is a network they can turn to both professionally and personally. A community made up of industry people that the next generation can tap into for career advice, support and personal help.