To Rome, with love: Chef Manu Chandra's latest food venture 'Lupa'

Chef Manu Chandra’s latest venture, Lupa, complete with European food, a gelato lab, a coffee bar and a wine cellar, is Bengaluru’s newest attraction
Chef Manu Chandra
Chef Manu Chandra

We all know of prolific authors, artists and musicians, but Bengaluru has the happy distinction of having one prolific chef—the uber-popular Chef Manu Chandra. Having burst onto the local food scene in 2004 with his Olive Beach, the past years have seen Chandra helming pleasing and profitable eateries, both in the casual and fine-dining segments, like Olive Beach, Like ThatOnly, Monkey Bar, Toast & Tonic, Cantan, Fatty Bao, and now his latest venture, Lupa.

Each time Chandra embarks on a new culinary adventure, he does so with unparalleled confidence. “Jumping out of that plane again, secured by the ballast of proven success and hard-won experience, 
a wry sense of humour and still no greys”, was the way the chef introduced Lupa to the city.

His latest undertaking is named after the mythological she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of modern Rome. Why name an eatery Lupa and the chef has a crisp reply: “It is a hat-tip to the mother of the modern city of Rome, inspired by both her untameable spirit and her gentle nurturing side.”

The restaurant is all about European food in a charming Tuscan setting right in the heart of Bengaluru cantonment. The menu runs the gamut of dishes like a Neapolitan stew with fish, prawns, clams, squid, chilli peppers, tomato, oregano, and lemon served with grilled focaccia; Corzettipasta, a unique stamped fresh pasta with a wild mushroom ragu, topped with crispy garlic and toasted walnuts. There’s also the Arroz de Pato, a special version of Portuguese Duck Rice where the rice is cooked with aromatic duck stock, spices, cured duck breast and chorizo, mustard and chilli marinated sea bass, which is oven-roasted, served with tapioca risotto, roasted vegetables, leek-basil cream and herb salad. It also serves unique cocktails, has a gelato lab, a coffee bar and a salumeria.

Having trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Chandra went off to apprentice with Michelin-starred Chef Eyvind Hellstrom at Bagatelle in Norway, well before Nordic cuisine became a thing. Back in India, the chef is credited with opening the first gastropub, getting  Asian dining to trend like mad, reviving India’s taste for gin, championing Indian produce—millets for one—in progressive and flavourful ways. Chandra’s also the man behind the artisanal cheese brand, Begum Victoria, which most Bengalurean turophiles swear by.

Young Achiever, Best Young Chef, in the Top Ten Chefs list, Most Admired Chef, Fortune India magazine’s 40 under 40, Class of 2016… the plaudits came thick and fast, and were duly notched on his belt in rapid succession.

This really is one busy man. Chandra is involved with an initiative called The Social Kitchen, which aims to bring families back to the kitchen and table; is the founding curator and on the advisory board for the culinary arts discipline at the Serendipity Arts Festival; is a strategic investor and partner in 
a plant protein company with a meat-alternate line, Shaka Harry; an investor and partner in Chhota Hazari Spirits, a company focused on small-batch spirits. Chandra was also at the 75th anniversary edition of the Festival de Cannes in 2022, cooking the inaugural dinner for Indian luminaries, as well as running a unique catering offering with Single Thread at the official India Pavilion there that he recently started. A bespoke catering concept, it is just one arm of his Manu Chandra Ventures, he co-founded 
with veteran hospitality professional Chetan Rampal.

The other verticals of this ambitious enterprise include Savaa Ser, a restaurant arm; Holy Duck, a digital and video production studio; as well as Duality Concepts, a management and consultant company. Says the chef about his many experiments: “The canvas is bigger and the ambition, audacious.” And with each new project, he holds the lines of TS Eliot firmly in his mind: “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

The Bengaluru-based chef’s cooking styles have kept evolving with time, but his fundamental premise remains the same. He says, “I focus on freshness and constantly innovate, never losing sight of that original  focus.”Chandra has gone on record to thank Bengaluru for providing the ballast for his various culinary enterprises. The city, on its part, remains appreciative of his taste-bomb explosions. This then, 
is a relationship set to last.


✥  Malabar spinach: 500 gm
✥  Chopped onion: 1
✥  Chopped flat leaf parsley: 50 gm
✥  Olive oil: 1 tbsp
✥  Butter: 50 gm
✥  Feta cheese: 150 gm
✥  Filo sheets: 15-20 sheets
✥  Nutmeg: ¼ tsp
✥  Dill leaves: 100 gm
✥  Salt and pepper to taste
✥ Heat oil in a pan. Add olive oil, onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent.
✥ Add spinach and a bit of salt and pepper, cover, and cook until the spinach is wilted.
✥ Drain the spinach into a colander and let cool. Now, firmly squeeze out the excess liquid and then chop it up.
✥ Mix the spinach in a small bowl with the feta and parsley until chunky. Add nutmeg.
✥ Unwrap and unroll the filo and keep it covered with a damp towel.
✥ Lay one sheet of filo on the table and brush it lightly, but thoroughly, with butter. Lay another sheet on top of it and brush it with butter.
✥ Add about 50 gm of filling in the centre of the filo, about one-inch from the edge of the sheets. Then fold one corner diagonally over the filling and continue folding, keeping the triangle shape.
✥ Brush the top with butter and set on a baking tray brushed with butter. Continue making more spanakopitas with the remaining filling.
✥ To bake the spanakopita, preheat the oven to 180°c and brush the baking try with butter. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Recipe courtesy 
Chef Manu Chandra

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