“I don’t think about anything else other than what I do; this is the only thing that makes me happy.”
I create a very strong bond with the food. You know, there is no personal life to me. My personal life and my social life is cooking. My personal life is cooking, my social life is when I chat with people who eat that. That’s all I do, I work long hours. It’s not that I’m complaining about it, I enjoy every bit of it.”
From helping his mom in the kitchen to get out of studying to working on a cruise ship and exploring the different flavors of the world, it’s safe to say that Charlie Mani has always had a passion for cooking. He brought his craft to the Big Apple 13 years ago, and hasn’t looked back, working at many restaurants, including Babu Ji, an Indian restaurant in Alphabet City.
But his newest endeavor is Badshah, a contemporary Indian restaurant that opened up this past summer. Here, he’s free to put his professional culinary flare on every dish and switch up the menu every so often, which allows him to really experiment and expand his creative horizons.
I explained it to a few people the way I was taught. For me, excuse me, for me I tell everyone cooking is like having sex. You have to sit down and fantasize about it, and when the time comes, if you do it right the more noise people make.”
With many experiences and stories to share, Charlie’s favorite part of the day is during dining service, where he stops by each table to talk with customers, whether they want him to or not. He tries to create real personal connections with the people that pass through his doors, and so far he’s achieved that.
When I started to work over here, I wanted to find myself in such a way where I can bring culinary students into the restaurant industry completely. In order to do that, I have to be someone. So that’s turned into an inspiration. I’m working very hard to be in that kind of place where I can lead my next generation people, those going to culinary college.”
He is in every way an artist. Besides his beautiful plating skills, which are stunning, the amount of detail that goes into creating every dish is astounding. On top of that, his ability to take the flavor profiles from his travels and blend them with other cuisines can only be described as magic.
Charlie wants to own a restaurant of his own some day, and there’s no doubt that with his relentless dedication and passion, he will make that dream a reality.
I’ve turned into a workaholic, and that’s the one thing I don’t want to change, because I don’t want to stop working hard. The only thing I can do for myself is work harder.”