AIR MILES

MANU CHAN­DRA is the ex­ec­u­tive chef at Olive Bar and Kitchen that owns Toast and Tonic, Fatty Bao and Mon­key Bar. Given his pro­fes­sion, Chef Chan­dra is al­ways on the go. He speaks to Busi­ness Trav­eller In­dia about his fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ences

Business Traveller (India) - - UPFRONT -

Your ca­reer must en­tail a lot of late nights. Ever missed a morn­ing flight?

Al­most a decade ago, I was no­to­ri­ous for miss­ing all my Mum­bai - Ben­galuru morn­ing flights. Those were the King­fisher Air­line days, and I was a fre­quent flyer with a plat­inum card, so I never had to pay a missed light penalty. This was prob­a­bly be­cause I was par­ty­ing too much. Since then, I have never missed any flights.

Ever flown twice in a day for two events?

Yes, it used to be pretty nor­mal, in fact. Lunch event in one city, and dash off on a 4:30pm to Mum­bai or Delhi to do a din­ner event. It was all thrilling at first, but the com­mute to the air­port and then to the restau­rants through peak hour traf­fic on land­ing was in­cred­i­bly drain­ing. Now, I try to avoid such sit­u­a­tions.

What are your thoughts on air­craft food?

It’s not re­ally thought-pro­vok­ing cui­sine now, is it? It is func­tional at best, de­signed mostly to kill bore­dom and feel like you’re fly­ing a full-ser­vice car­rier. I some­how al­ways end up with acid re­flux if I eat it, so I avoid it mostly.

What do you nor­mally do on flights?

I ei­ther sleep, or im­me­di­ately put on my ear­phones. I am just one of those who don’t want to strike up a con­ver­sa­tion or be­lieve in the mir­a­cle of meet­ing re­mark­able peo­ple on flights. So yes, I sleep mostly, which is a great way to catch up on the many hours of missed sleep.

What el­e­ments of flights or air­ports are most im­por­tant to you?

The cof­fee shop (prefer­ably a good one) is sacro­sanct. It’s my first port of call right af­ter se­cu­rity. Large clear dis­play boards in the ter­mi­nal are the other im­por­tant el­e­ment for me.

Have you ever had to travel with your in­gre­di­ents/equip­ment?

Again, some­thing that used to hap­pen a lot, when I was set­ting up restau­rants. There have been oc­ca­sions when a few of us flew to­gether with prepara­tory equip­ment for a cater­ing event. We must’ve looked like a trav­el­ling cir­cus while check­ing in. But largely I dis­like checkin lug­gage. If I can avoid it, which I mostly do, I find travel to be less cum­ber­some.

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