At The Bar with Chef Harry Mangat from Biji Dining

Dubbed the new wave Indian food champions by the 2024 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Chef Harry Mangat of Biji Dining in Red Hill South collaborates with his Mornington Peninsula neighbours at Avani Wines this summer.

Seasonal drives his culinary decision making, and now guests can enjoy a few special evenings in this fabulous pop-up arriving at Avani Wines in January.

Harry Mangat works closely with his wife Sandy Soerjadhi; together they bring out the best in one another in the kitchen – meeting 15 years ago on the job, and working together by choice ever since.

“Sandy is my best friend and we get along great. Our main goals and values are the same, making delicious, quality food with real ingredients and treating every customer like they’re a guest in our own home,” says Harry Mangat.

“She wouldn’t let me serve something she doesn’t think is good enough. We’re professional but also know how to muck around and have a good laugh,” he adds.

At Avani Wines, they also come together with French bistro inspired Lilac Wine Bar for the culinary occasion.

“I just love collaborating with other chefs and friends. It’s a good way to learn new skills, gain more ideas, understand other cuisines and it’s a whole lot of fun,” says Mangat.

“Kyle Nicol is a genius when it comes to food. He makes ferments, misos, makes his own charcuterie. We will make some spiced charcuterie inspired from Goan chourico and Nagaland blood and offal sausage. A lot of these techniques I would rarely use in my own cooking,” he says.

So how do Harry and Sandy spend a night at home together when away from the hustle of hospitality?

“We start with a negroni, maybe a glass of champagne or a good pet nat which is Sandy’s new obsession,” says Mangat.

“We do a lot of ‘home dates’. I’ll cook vego and she’ll man the bar. A romantic night out is us walking down aisles of supermarkets commenting on random new products that we see,” he adds.

As part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Harry Mangat joins three exciting new champs in the food scene to deliver the World’s Longest Brunch on Saturday March 16 in Kings Domain – joining Helly Raichura and Mischa Tropp for the excitement.

Harry Mangat talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.


Melbourne is my home, it’s where I come back to, where I have friends and family and who I miss when I am away. There’s a connection to this place.




My mums Sarson da saag and makki de roti served with side of homemade buffalo milk butter, pickled ginger and green chilli achar.


Plonk and Stink in Flinders, Mornington Peninsula. They have great selection of Victorian wines.




What’s a hangover? Haven’t had one for years, but my usual go to is water and Chole Bhature.


Sonny in Hobart. Great food and drinks. Atmosphere like none other.


Avani’s Amrit Pinot Gris (skin contact) and a visit to Avani is a must.




I love the passion they have for their wines and where their wines come from. Their genuine care and love for the land, mother nature and its effects on the end product. Every time I pass by Avani, Sashi aunty is always onto something, doing something. She never stops! They are boutique, the whole family is involved hands on. The work behind the scenes is mind blowing. To show up and put in as much love and attention to their work every day is amazing. We feel very connected to Avani and respect their ethos, that’s the reason Sandy and I have been coming back for last five years. We’re addicted to good energy and the loving environment they create. Avani Wines are really good with well balanced, spicy food, so these wines make my job a lot easier when it comes to pairings. I talk to Rohit about the dish I’m creating, it’s flavours and textures. He’s a gun at doing the matches. So I’ll leave it to him and et voila, magic.

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