at home and in the mood by Luke Mangan

Improve your international culinary repertoire with an Australian master chef

By Robyn Lewis
Subscribe to
at home & in the mood - Luke Mangan

at home & in the mood - Luke Mangan [©New Holland]


If you’re a Masterchef  fan then you’ll probably enjoy Luke Mangan’s at home and in the mood.

As world-famous chef Michel Roux says in his introduction, ‘it covers so many aspects of cooking, from a simple snack to sharing a meal with family and friends. Each recipe has its own photo expressing further Luke’s approach that food should be fresh, honest and uncomplicated’.  (Well, nearly every recipe). 

Just as Masterchef
sought to make professional cheffing attainable, so does at home and in the mood. But this is not about plating up, it’s about shared dishes, served ‘family style’. And what better time than when we’re feeling chilled out after a holiday – and if you’re in Australia, while summer shines blissfully on? 

I confess that I have never met Luke Mangan nor eaten at any of his three restaurants: glass brasserie in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel, south food + wine bar in San Francisco or Salt in Tokyo. Propelled by Richard Branson – who has flown Mangan to cook at his Caribbean getaway - Mangan also prepared a special pre-wedding dinner hosted by the Australian Governor-General for the then Australian Mary Donaldson prior to her marriage to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. This pan-Aussie meal featured Northern Territory barramundi, South Australia kingfish (in a carpaccio), prawns from New South Wales, Tasmania salmon and lamb from Victoria, all specially flown in for the festivities.

(If you haven’t guessed already, Luke Mangan is as much a brand as a chef. Like Jamie Oliver, he has his own range of herbs, spices and sauces – no doubt cookware is next if not here already.)

However I have heard Mangan speak, most recently on Pete Dillon’s cult foodie show Cravings on Melbourne’s Joy Radio, where I do a regular stint called ‘where to go in wine regions'. On a recent Saturday I was listening online while waiting for my allotted slot when on came Luke Mangan.

And boy, can he talk! Mangan is obviously an engaging man and his knowledge of and passion for food shone in every word. After fifteen  minutes non-stop, I was thinking ‘this is going to be a very hard act to follow’. (He does have eight years as Today show chef in Australia under his belt, after all.)

As Mangan says, ‘enjoying food with family and friends is one of the great joys of life. Sharing conversation over a meal, or even just a snack, is one of the best ways to spend time with people you care about.’ As suits the current economic climate, he also believes that great food does not have to be expensive.

The recipes in at home and in the mood follow these themes – no Princess Mary dinners here. They start with some fairly standard suggestions for breakfast and brunch (although the ‘Hangover Breakfast Wrap’ is obviously to be made for someone with a hangover, not by one) then move into lunches and light meals, where Mangan quickly shows himself to be a bit of an international recipe bowerbird, with an eclectic collection that befits Australia’s 2010 multiculture.

Mangan freely admits that he discovers some of his recipes whilst travelling and filming for his TV show. From 'Japanese pizza' (okonomiyaki), naan tandoor chicken wraps to asparagus and crushed peas on toast with goat’s cheese and mint, to dolmades and BLT, at home and in the mood travels through countries and indeed continents seemingly randomly across the pages. China, Thailand and Vietnam are interspersed with Italy, Greece and Australia. Moroccan is mixed with French. By the time I get to the mains I find myself thinking that a bit of geographic organisation may have helped here – but then it’s like a walk down any major city’s eat street.

There’s a section on barbecues – the standby of casual entertainers anywhere warm enough to stand outside and cook – simple, easy recipes that will impress your guests almost regardless of your culinary skill level. Ditto the seafood section, where the most difficult tasks would be making the pickled cucumber to go with the fish cakes or roasted salmon, or making the dressings. The turmeric and polenta crusted whiting fillets are a yummy throwback to East African fish curries that marry turmeric and fish so well.

There are plenty of shots by photographer Dean Cambray of Mangan and his family/friends around the table – opening wine, serving salads, laughter,  the labrador peering from beneath – with coloured glassware that reinforces the informality. Mangan recommends ‘no need to plate up, place the food in the centre and let people enjoy!’, to keep guests’ glasses attended to, and to forget the garnishes but just finely chop the herbs and add them into the dishes.

Meat dishes swing not only between continents but also between seasons from page to page. Following a very long culinary tradition (which is seemingly only now being rediscovered) he recommends buying and cooking seasonally, so you will have to sift through the pages to find the seasonally-appropriate recipes, although with dishes like clay pot venison, lamb shanks braised in curry spices, red wine vinegar and mint, and rabbit and mushroom pie, the meat section is more suited to winter.

Pasta and noodles cover pho to risotto, spaghetti bolognaise to laksa in as many pages – there’s only 8 recipes in total here, followed by 8 sides. Nearly 20 desserts are next; nothing overly complicated and including some classics like tarte tatin, summer pudding, lemon-lime tart and chocolate mousse. There are two plum puddings (the book was published just before Christmas), one of ice cream and the other the Mangan family’s own recipe.

By page 269 (there are a lot of photos) we find ourselves at entertaining with wine. Like that of the food, Mangan’s approach is ‘keep it simple’: serve wines that you and your guests will enjoy. However, quite what they might be is largely left to you to determine.

He provides a list of mainly don’ts on page 271 (which clearly doesn’t include ‘don’t serve good wine in blue-coloured glasses’ - unless you want to express a 'don't know and don't care' wine attitude, that is).  I get the impression that Mangan may be more into cocktails and beer, and to me this section is a disappointment, thin on any real information. Quote: ‘Varieties. I love Chardonnays. Rosés and blush wines make great summer lunch wines. I recently visited friends in the south west of France where I was amazed to have a beautiful bottle of rosé with lunch, and to learn that the whole bottle was cheaper than a cup of coffee’. Don’t buy at home and in the mood for any wine/food matching suggestions – make yourself one of his wasabi or lemongrass cocktails instead.

The penultimate section is a pleasant surprise however – a page on coffees, then a selection of recipes for herbal and flavoured teas, for those who want to experiment and brew up your own blends like mango and ginger, spiced camomile or chai. At the end come the basic sauces; there are a few real beauties here, including Mangan’s special barbecue sauce, and mango, chilli and mint mojo. The phrase ‘goes great with’ crops up a lot. It's a good book for the guys.

might have given you the desire, and if your culinary skills need development - or if you just want a grab a slice of the lifestyle - Luke Mangan’s at home and in the mood will assist. You’ll certainly develop an international repertoire.

At home and in the mood by Luke Mangan (photography by Dean Cambray) is published by New Holland Publishers (hb, Sydney, 2009; RRP A$59.95).

Winepros Archive and subscribers can purchase at home and in the mood from our book partners Seekbooks at 12.5% discount off RRP (postage extra).

 * Pete Dillon's Cravings is on Joy Radio in Melbourne, FM 94.9, Saturdays at 1 pm AEST, streamed live on

Our Recommendations

To see our recommendations, ratings and reviews you must be a logged-in subscriber.

To subscribe please enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now - it's Free" box on the right and click the "Join" button, or fill in this form >

January 19th, 2010
Subscribe today - it's free
Subscribe Button

Subscribe now - for news and reviews, our newsletter (optional), to join our forums, and more.

Enter your email address and click the Subscribe button. We respect your privacy.

Log in

Enter your username...

Enter your password...

Log In Button

Forgotten your password?


Kerry's corner - your free benefits