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
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.