October 10, 2016


After a six month search to find Australia’s biggest foodie, Luke Mangan, one of Australia’s most accomplished restaurateurs, has officially announced Sofia Levin as his new CEO (Culinary Experience Officer). The talented home cook, foodie writer and tastemaker from Collingwood, Victoria will now travel the world on a money can’t buy round of travel and tasting experiences, creating content for Luke Mangan’s extensive portfolio of partnerships and restaurants.

Sofia was selected from some of Australia’s best and brightest foodies across three categories: Drinks Connoisseur, Talented Home Cook & Artisan Supplier. This included the likes of world class bartender Luke Ashton, My Kitchen Rules winner Sammy Jakubiak, pastry chef Christopher Thé of Blackstar Pastry and James Madden of Flinders Island Meat.

As the joint winner of the Talented Home Cook category, conducted in conjunction with P&O Cruises, Sofia’s winning dish of beetroot cured Kingfish with citrus and fennel salad, avruga roe and horseradish cream, will be on the menu in Luke’s Salt Grill onboard P&O’s five ships between October 14 and October 30.

Luke Mangan, Sofia Levin, Sture Myrmell

Luke Mangan, Sofia Levin, Sture Myrmell

In celebration of Luke becoming the first restaurateur in the world to serve dishes across land, air, rail and sea, the trip will include a four night P&O cruise to Hamilton Island on board Pacific Aria, joining Luke’s new restaurant on its inaugural journey on the Eastern & Oriental Express luxury train between Singapore and Bangkok, enjoying a taste of Virgin Australia’s Business Class, plus dining at Luke’s restaurants throughout Asia and Australia.

Luke commented “The prospect of selecting Australia’s best foodie was an exciting challenge and one we enjoyed immensely. We were consistently stunned by the level of talent in our own backyard and welcome Sofia into our family with open arms. We’re looking forward to what we can achieve with Sofia, working through my network of restaurants and brand partnerships to push the definition of what it means to create and celebrate food in all its forms.”

Speaking of her win, Sofia said: “There’s nothing I love more than food and travel, ideally simultaneously. For a panel of industry professionals to give me this opportunity has been the icing on the cake of what’s already been an incredible experience. This is an opportunity to not only learn and open doors, but to take others along for the ride via my new role as Luke Mangan’s CEO.” 

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


August 26, 2016


In the quest to determine Australia’s top home cook and find a winner for the Talented Home Cook category of Luke Mangan’s Search for a CEO (Culinary Experience Officer) campaign, which marks Luke’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, a lunch was held recently at Luke’s global test kitchen at MOJO in Danks Street, Waterloo.

Five amazing individuals presented their dishes to the eager diners who had the enviable task of trying each course and at the conclusion of service, vote for their favourite.

Canapes & Amuse Bouche by Michelle Walsh. Spicy prawns and avocado with chipotle mayonnaise and crispy vermicelli was the first item to tempt our tastebuds, followed by pistachio dukkah prawns with almonds, pomegranate, mint and yoghurt dressing.

Starter by Sofia Levin of beetroot cured kingfish with citrus and fennel salad, avruga roe and horseradish cream was delicious.

From the Sea by Tristan Lutze was a delicate combination of scallop with miso and wasabi.


Off the Grill by Laura Blanot presented herb crusted lamb with chimichurri sauce, fresh gnocchi and mushroom puree.

Dessert by Sammy Jakubiak of a unique cheesecake with amaretto and orange, was a delightful finale.

Chosen by a panel of judges including P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell and a popular vote on the day, Luke Mangan has hand-picked two talented home cooks and foodies, Sammy Jakubiak and Sofia Levin, as shortlisted finalists in his Search for a CEO (Culinary Experience Officer) campaign. The two winners will now create a dish each to be available in all Salt grill restaurants onboard all five P&O cruise ships.

Sammy commented “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!”, while Sofia said “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.”

Luke went on to say “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.”


Luke opened his first restaurant at sea onboard a P&O Cruises’ 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.

Sammy and Sofia join Luke Ashton who won the Tourism Australia cocktail phase and the yet to be decided Artisan Supplier.

The crowned CEO will be awarded with tasting and travel experiences at Luke’s international restaurants, across P&O Cruise Ships, Virgin Australia and Eastern & Oriental brand partnerships in October. 

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond

Photo Titles: 1.  Luke Mangan, Sofia Levin, Sture Myrmell & Sofia’s Prize Winning Dish  2. Luke Mangan, Sammy Jakubiak, Sture Myrmell & Sammy’s Prize Winning Dish  3. Luke Mangan & Sture Myrmell with Finalists