Getting a gig on one of the world's most exclusive trains was a coup for Australian chef and restauranteur Luke Mangan. Already renowned for his 19 restaurants around the globe, as well as culinary collaborations with P&O and Virgin airlines, Mangan's food empire is rapidly expanding.
The Melbourne born Mangan has just joined the Eastern & Oriental Express train for a two-day journey from Singapore to Thailand and Malaysia, departing on October 28. The tour kicks off with the chef and his team taking passengers for a wander around one of Singapore's exotic food markets.
Once on board, Mangan will be working alongside the Express' executive chef Yannis Martineau, creating a clean and contemporary menu along the same lines as his Salt restaurant enterprises in Surfers Paradise, Jakarta, Singapore, and Tokyo.
Ever the entrepreneur, Mangan will also be signing copies of his latest tome; Salt Grill, Fine Dining for the whole family.
The Eastern & Oriental Express is part of the luxury Belmond stable that includes the uber-swish Venice-Simplon Orient Express.
The two-day journey from Singapore will pass through some of the most picturesque countryside in Asia. And passengers will do it in luxury, sipping cocktails in the dining car, relaxing with a book in the saloon car, or taking in the view from the colonial style teakwood observation car. All cabins are air-conditioned with ensuite bathrooms, but if you have the money you'll stump up for the larger presidential suites.
Mangan says he is excited by the prospect of working with Belmond and introducing passengers to his cuisine. "I've never prepared food for a train before and it's always been a dream of mine – even my ring tone is the sound of a train horn!" he says. "I'm fortunate I've got an amazing team behind me and we're in a very exciting place to now be able to take our brand across land, sea, air and rail."
It's been a meteoric rise for the 46-year-old who opened the Hemmes' family's CBD restaurant in Sydney at just 24 year of age, and his own Salt restaurant before his 30th birthday. As well as numerous restaurants overseas, Mangan owns Glass Brasserie in Sydney's Hilton Hotel; a winner of one chef's hat in the SMH Good Food Guide 2012, and he has launched a range of gourmet products under the Luke Mangan Providores label.