Accomplished Australian restaurateur Luke Mangan has hand-picked two talented home cooks and foodies Sammy Jakubiak and Sofia Levin as short-listed finalists in his Search for a CEO (Culinary Experience Officer) campaign, launched in March. The campaign marks Mangan’s milestone of becoming the first restaurateur in the world with dishes served on land, sea, air and rail following a recent partnership with Eastern & Oriental Express.
Mangan called on foodies across the country to enter for the chance to be short-listed in one of the following categories: The Drinks Connoisseur, The Artisan Supplier and The Talented Home Cook, for which Sammy and Sofia were selected. The final crowned ‘CEO’ will be awarded with a smorgasbord of tasting and travel experiences at Luke’s international restaurants, across P&O Cruises’ ships, Virgin Australia and Eastern & Oriental brand partnerships in October.
Of the five dishes created for the occasion, Sammy’s was a beautiful creation of orange and amaretto cheesecake while Sofia’s was a delightful beetroot cured kingfish. Chosen by a panel of judges including Luke Mangan and P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell and a popular vote on the day, the two winners will now create a dish each to be available in all Salt grill restaurants onboard all five P&O Cruises’ ships.
Luke opened his first restaurant at sea onboard a P&O ship in 2009 and now has a Salt grill onboard each of the cruise line’s five ships. His next Salt grill will launch in June 2017 when P&O’s latest ship Pacific Explorer debuts in Sydney.
“To have five Salt grill restaurants at sea speaks volumes about P&O’s innovative approach to cruise cuisine as well as Australians’ love of good food, and I’m thrilled they’ve been a partner in my search for a CEO,” Luke said.
Sammy commented on her shortlisting and opportunity to create a dish with Luke: “I’m excited for the chance to create a dish with one of Australia’s biggest foodie personalities. I can learn so much from Luke!”
Sofia said of her selection: “Cooking kingfish for Luke, the crown prince of kingfish, was a gamble – evidently one that paid off! I’m honoured to be through to the finals and keen to see what I can create for P&O.”
Sammy and Sofia join Luke Ashton who won the Tourism Australia cocktail phase and the yet to be decided Artisan Supplier.
Mangan commented on the pair’s selection: “The standard of home cooks here in Australia is exceptional; a product of the passion and produce this nation has on tap. So much so we couldn’t pick just one!”
“The huge pool of outstanding Australian expertise in the food and beverage industry has really shone through during my search for a CEO, with a huge amount of applications showing amazing talent from across the country. The aim of the campaign is to showcase what Australia has to offer to an international audience, via my network of restaurants and brand partnerships.”
The final three candidates will be assessed in September by Mangan and the President of P&O Cruises Sture Myrmell, Tourism Australia, Virgin Australia and Hilton Hotels before the CEO winner is announced.
The crowned ‘CEO’ will land the role of a lifetime and a money-can’t-buy smorgasbord of travel and tasting experiences in October, including a four-night P&O cruise to Hamilton Island onboard the Pacific Aria and joining Mangan for his restaurant’s inaugural journey on board the Eastern & Oriental Express between Singapore and Bangkok. They will create content for report on Mangan’s extensive portfolio, including a taste of Virgin Australia’s Business Class, as well as dinners at his restaurants in Asia and the Maldives.