Luke’s mission to help Australians eat better

Coles Ambassador Luke Mangan says friends and family helped him get through the pandemic, but now he is looking forward to a happier, more productive new year.

Portrait of Luke Managan 

Q: Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

Gosh! Haven’t we all?! I have a long list for 2021, starting with rebuilding my businesses. I can’t wait to reopen my restaurants on cruise ships, reconnect with my long-term suppliers and get back into mentoring young hospitality talent through the Appetite for Excellence award program. As a Coles ambassador, I want to create fun new campaigns and share my recipes with the community. Finally, I want to travel more within Australia, visiting unexplored rural places and adding a few extra bottles of chardonnay to my cellar!

Q: What would you like to change about the way Australians eat in 2021?

I am devastated that Australia has such a high rate of obesity. I couldn’t stop asking myself, why? We have access to a beautiful outdoor lifestyle, plenty of sunshine, and the supermarkets aisles are filled with fresh local produce. Cooking is the best life skill one can have, so my mission for 2021, together with Coles, is to help educate people about good food. Not only by sharing delicious and tasty family recipes but also by showing people that adopting healthy eating habits is a simple and effective way to lose weight and boost overall health.

Q: Is there a cuisine, ingredient or cooking style that you plan to explore in 2021?

We’ve all heard the term “farm-to-table” where a restaurant sources produce from local farms. COVID-19 showed us that paying a visit to our favourite restaurant might not always be possible, so I want to explore the possibilities of “garden-to-table” cuisine by expanding my own home-garden. I already grow a wide variety of herbs and vegetables, now I’m adding fruit trees and nut trees.

Q: What destination are you most looking forward to visiting in a post-COVID 19 world?

If you had asked me this question a year ago, I would have said somewhere in Europe like the Amalfi Coast in Italy. But due to the pandemic I’ve been happily exploring Victoria instead. And I want to go back again – this time swinging by some vineyards on the Mornington Peninsula and spending more time with Mum in Melbourne.

Q: How have the events of 2020 affected the way you look at your family, friendships and career?

One of the main COVID-19 lessons we’ve all had to learn is that anything can happen! If you’d told me that airline, cruise ships and restaurants would all stop at once, I would have called you mad! Here in New South Wales, the lockdown was quite short, so I could reopen Luke’s Kitchen in Waterloo as soon as the restrictions were lifted. With my other businesses temporarily closed down I could work shoulder-to-shoulder with my team, making sure the restaurant was a safe environment and providing the best service to our loyal customers.

With regards to family and friends, I’ve never been so close to them. I finally got the time to speak with my family almost every day, including my brothers, and I have six of them. My friends were very supportive during these challenging times. They were dining at my restaurant regularly, and ordering meals from Luke At Home, my new online food venture, or buying Christmas gifts from my gourmet range of products. How blessed am I?