Chandra is an Executive Chef and Entrepreneur, of two very distinct restaurants in Bangalore — a gastropub, Monkey Bar and LikeThatOnly restaurant . He is also the Executive Chef at Olive Beach, Bangalore.
His passion for food surfaced at a young age of 12, largely due to a family greatly inclined towards food, in terms of cooking, discussing and arguing on food. So his professional inclination towards food came naturally.
At St. Stephen’s College, he wrote, designed and helped photograph a book on fusion cuisine. Chandra enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Hyde Park, New York, where he apprenticed with some of the City’s most celebrated kitchens, including Restaurant Daniel, Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, Café Centro, Jean Georges and Town and also opened the now legendary Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan. Armed with top honours from CIA and a prestigious Sea Food Masters Award for the National Recipe Competition 2002, he travelled to Norway to work with the Michelin starred Chef Eyvind Hellstrom at Bagatelle, well before Nordic cuisine was even acknowledged globally.
A lover of slow cooking, Chandra leans towards painstakingly controlled and cooked things, a process that enables one to extract flavours and textures. On the flip side, he’s fond of incredibly fast cooking, which keeps the integrity of ingredients and freshness intact.
Late 2004, he returned to India, where he joined Olive Beach Bangalore as Chef de Cuisine. Under his culinary skills, Olive Beach in Bangalore, has won several awards and recognitions.
In 2006, he was featured on India Today’s list of Young Thievery. In 2007, Manu was selected as one of the ‘Top 10 Best Young Chefs’ in the Country by ‘Taste and Travel Magazine.’ Business Times and Food and Nightlife also rated Chandra as one of India’s 10 best chefs and he has been awarded the Golden Star Award for the ‘Most Admired Chef in India 2011’ category. He received accolades and appreciation from around the world, as one of the most promising and talented young chefs in India, namely in the New York Times and Time Magazine. He has also been featured on the Elle Magazine’s hot list. Chandra has also written extensively on food and food trends for a cross section of publications including Forbes, BBB Good Food, The Week, India Today, Yahoo.com and The Times of India
Chandra in partnership with a long time colleague, Chetan Rampal and serial restaurateur, AD Singh, launched two new brands, Monkey Bar, a gastropub and LikeThatOnly, an Asian restaurant. These two brands were launched by a new company – Olive Cafes South Private Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary Olive Bar and Kitchen. This venture turned chef into an entrepreneur.
In a short span of a year and a half, the brands have been recognised both nationally and globally. LikeThatOnly was awarded the Best Pan Asian Restaurant at the Times Food Guide Awards in 2012. Monkey Bar has made it to Conde Nast Traveler UK’s Gold Standard List 2013, Time Out London, Singapore and Hong Kong’s best new bars in the world list as well as picking up the Time Nightlife Award for Best Bar in Bangalore 2012, within eight months of its operations.