GROWING up in the small south Indian village of Kadugapet, chef Murali Manavalan had the advantage of making an open fire for cooking anywhere he liked.
As a teenager, he often experimented with rice, eggs and fish and from there his passion for food blossomed, sparking a gratifying career that has taken him across the globe.
“I would cook whether I was eating or not, so I would have to hide everything from my mother because I knew she’d be upset if I was wasting food outside the house,” Murali laughed.
After completing his apprenticeship then working in esteemed hotels in India, Saudi Arabia and Bermuda, the culinary connoisseur took up residence on glorious Rottnest in 2009, securing the position of head chef at the island’s Dome café.
“I’m the only person in the village to come out to a foreign nation and live here so when I go back to Kadugapet I feel proud; they think I have achieved a lot,” Murali said.
“Australia is one of the best places I could ever imagine living in and I love being on the island.
“I spend a lot of time playing with my son Shantanu (meaning little prince) at the beach, and my wife Vasutha and I go for long walks.
“She loves it here too – who doesn’t love this place?
Murali enjoys preparing the Dome menu comprising burgers, pancakes, salads and Italian staples but occasionally he cooks south Indian specialities.
“Once in a while my boss lets me cook my food when he brings his friends to the café. I prepared a big Christmas lunch for them last year – I was a very happy man that day,” he said.