Fearless Multitasker | Chef Manu Chandra effortlessly handles new restaurant Lupa, and ventures like Single Thread, Begum Victoria and Chhota Hazari

Chef Manu Chandra at the Single Thread event | photo credit: special arrangement

Even in Bengaluru, the city synonymous with start-ups, Manu Chandra’s transition from acclaimed chef to serial entrepreneur has been accomplished at a rapid pace. Less than a year after resigning from the Olive Group of Restaurants, Chandra’s businesses and investments now range from a catering company to a small batch distillery to a meat substitute company.

Single Thread, which does bespoke catering, has won over venues as far-flung as the film festival in Cannes, just weeks after the company was founded in May, at the World Economic Forum in Davos this month. The company has curated thematic dinners of modern Indian food in Mumbai for Spotify and Meta—an assignment it received despite there being plenty of innovative chefs in that city.

In the coming fortnight, a new gin produced by a distillery in Maharashtra Chandra has invested in and established that Guide will be sold across metros in India. And in Bengaluru, in early February, he’ll open a new European restaurant that looks like it’s a Tuscan villa with a courtyard. The challenge of Lupa is that it is located in the heart of the city, between the Parma-gridlock of MG Road and Horning Deen. In addition, he continues to consult with wine giant Diageo, and runs Begum Victoria, a cheese maker.

Chef Manu Chandra

Chef Manu Chandra | Photo credit: Nishant Ratnakar

Asked if there is a risk of managing such ventures too soon, Chandra replies that many of the new investments, such as distillery Chhota Hazari and meat substitute Shaka Harry, are “intellectual property extensions that Basically take advantage of my experience and taste. It’s a little bit of time taken out every month. I don’t think it’s an overkill in terms of bandwidth”. People who have worked with him say he has been able to delegate because he has a team of dedicated managers who have worked with him for some time.

his interview with magazine Occurs while an elaborate photo shoot of some of the menu offerings of his new restaurant is being completed. For over an hour, he neither takes a break to see how things are going nor does a member of the restaurant staff interrupt to ask him questions.

Menu Offerings at Lupa

Menu offerings at Lupa | Photo Credit: Asad Dadan

Taste matters, not quality

Chandra has somehow been able to work in so many different cuisines, from Chinese and Mediterranean, to regional Indian cuisine with great subtlety, playing multiple roles. The Single Thread founder has allowed him to work more with modern Indian food in a way he’d only done sporadically during his 17-year career at Olive Group, where he went from apprenticing in New York to the 22-year-old freshman. Started as York, after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. As it happens, some of the best modern Indian food I’ve eaten was at the chef’s table at Olive Beach a few years ago at my previous job, where Chandra creatively alternated between Bengali and Tamil food . It surpassed the excellent lunch I ate at Indian Accent in New Delhi, where Manish Mehrotra, whose wife is from South India, also skillfully combines innovative offerings from North and South India.

Manu Chandra’s many culinary ambitions are taking flight at a time when the toll fine dining has never been on such unrelenting focus on chefs and staff. This month, René Redzepi, the acclaimed Copenhagen chef known for $500 to $775 (when paired with wine), created tasting menus for herbs and vegetables sourced from nearby forests and in the kitchen Very Technical Properties, announced that Noma would be closing its doors as a restaurant. At the end of 2024, another food laboratory will come up. in an interview with the new York TimesIn 2010, Redzepi declared that the kind of food he ate was “unsustainable”. Noma was in the news for both its food and the exploitation of interns, who worked 16-hour days without pay before the restaurant was replaced after a media exposé.

René Redzepi, head chef of Noma in Copenhagen

René Redzepi, head chef of Noma in Copenhagen | Photo Credit: Reuters

Widespread questions are being raised around the world whether such absurdly complex cooking regimes and eye-watering prices are sustainable in a world headed for a grinding era of slow economic growth. Netflix has inadvertently timed recent releases menu, to provide a background to this debate, centers around a dysfunctional celebrity chef. “It’s ceased to be food for food’s sake,” Chandra says of the Noma-style menu of mind-numbingly complex dishes that look like they came out of a chemistry lab. “I don’t understand the point they were trying to prove.”

living according to my mother’s wishes

In this sense, Chandra is also a pragmatist who believes that fine dining is fundamentally about the dreary business of feeding people well. It’s hard to imagine the menu full of emoji and other theatrical silliness that colored my experience of eating at Gagan Anand’s over-hyped restaurant in Bangkok a few years ago.

An Asparagus and Mint Mousse with Edible Flowers in a Single Thread Event

An asparagus and mint mousse with edible flowers in a single thread event | photo credit: special arrangement

Chandra recalls with amusement how Single Thread’s stint at the Indian pavilion at Cannes last summer involved cooking food in a kitchen in Nice and then driving it to Cannes, 26 km away. Their fusion of mostly Rajasthani food with French delicacies like canapés Onion Shortbread baked in puff pastry and Vada Pav was such a hit in a brioche that people were picking up hot food in large napkins as if auditioning for the role of Charles Dicken Oliver Twist, The assignment to perform a high-profile dinner for the Government of India at the festival came about due to several aspects of his business; Diageo gave his information to New Delhi.

Of course, the pandemic was a commercial catastrophe for contact-based businesses like restaurants and hotels, but it was also a time of grief for Chandra, who lost his mother to cancer in May 2020. , That was one of the things she said,” recalls Chandra, who wrote a tribute to her indomitable spirit to mark her 70th birthday in March last year. Her Instagram post was alternately raw and reflective .

But from that rough time it turned out that it was time to set out on their own – arguably something they should have done at least half a decade earlier. If the past six months are any indication, though, the entrepreneur-chef is making up for lost time.

The author is a former travel, food and drink editor at the Financial Times and author of a travel book, right of way ,