Restaurateur and chef Luke Mangan on Singapore

Why open a restaurant in Singapore?
Why not? I’ve been to Singapore about ten or so times, and I love it. I wouldn’t open a restaurant in a city I didn’t like. This is a good city for food and ingredients and it’s very cultured. I think the people here really know, love and respect great food and have a good palate. But location was important for me. I looked for three years, even at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. Finally, this came up and we thought this [atop ION Orchard] was the best one.
Some chefs have difficulties finding ingredients as Singapore doesn’t have a lot of our own local produce. How did you deal with that?
What Salt grill is all about is Australian seafood and meat, but using local fruits and veg. I think what Singapore’s got in terms of that is fantastic and that’s what the perfect marriage is all about—bringing those two things together and showcasing them both.
Did you think about the local palate in creating the menu?
No. That’s not being arrogant but I think Salt grill is simple enough that it won’t offend. I wouldn’t dream of telling a Chinese cook to put Australian influences in their cooking. We are what we are.
What inspires you?
I believe in keeping it simple. Let the ingredients speak for themselves and try not to mask the flavors of the food, like a great piece of beef. I don’t like fancy, rich food; I like light, healthy, clean food. I’m also very lucky to be able to travel. So I’m always going to different markets and learning when I eat other people’s food. You might pick up one little component and you might be able to use it somewhere.
Salt grill, 55/F ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, 6592-5118. Open daily 11:30am-3pm, 6-10:30pm.