Hong Kong has one of the most vibrant food scenes on the planet, filled with cooks and taste makers galore. In our Cheat Day column, we spotlight some of the best players in the kitchen and behind the bar, delving into their personal favorites on their days off. This week, we are talking to Chef de Cusine Manav Tuli from Chaat.
Growing up in Bhilai in central India, Chef Manav Tuli was exposed to all the best foods from across the country, sparking his inspiration to study hotel management in Kerala, South India. This opened the doors to what he considers his “most exciting life journey”, cementing South Indian cuisine as the basis of his culinary repertoire.
“After the hotel management course, I started working with Oberoi Hotels in Udaipur, Rajasthan,” he says. “I worked there for three years and was selected for the Management Trainee program – so I was able to travel to four other properties before ending up at Oberoi Mumbai as Kitchen Executive. Later, the opportunity arose to open an Indian restaurant for Intercontinental Hotels in Mauritius, and I took the plunge.
Tuli’s international journey eventually took him to London, joining the much-acclaimed Chutney Mary as Deputy Chef. It ended up staying for almost seven years, even opening the new Chutney Mary in St James’s and the fully refurbished Tamarind in 2018.
From his consecutive trip to Hong Kong, he was handpicked by Chef Fernando Corona, Executive Chef of Palissandre Hotels, who came to interview him in London.
What is the founding philosophy of Chaat?
Serve the best street food that represents India and perform them with refinement and the right balance for the lush and opulent standards of rosewood.
What’s your signature dish? Tell us about it.
My signature dish is our Baked Jackfruit Samosa.
It is inspired by Lamb Patti samosas sold in the streets of Hyderabad and Calcutta. We use dough sheets similar to those of patti samosa and we mold it into a cone shape. It keeps the outer crust crispier and adds to the overall experience.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
When I worked as a commissioner in the Oberois, I was young and I did not have a good orientation in life; Executive Chef Surinder told me, “Anything worth doing is worth doing is good”.
Do you cook when you are at home? What is a must-have dish for you?
My wife Neha cooks very well and that’s why I hardly cook at home. She spoils me. Sometimes she would ask me to make her my Egg Biryani; she likes it.
Cheat day time! What are your five favorite food / drink in Hong Kong restaurants or bars?