At Manang Mustang, Rajendra Gauchan is always eager to talk with locals about each object from Nepal decorating the dining room like this Dhaka topi (men’s cap).
Photo: Matic Zorman
Rajendra Gauchan thinks being an expat in Luxembourg could be lonely for those with a quiet disposition.
Gregarious by nature, he often steps out of the kitchen at the Manang Mustang restaurant, where he’s owner and chef, to chat with diners in English, German, French or Italian. “Speaking many languages gives me a really good advantage here,” he says.
Manang Mustang opened end-2018 and is the first Nepali restaurant in Grevenmacher. Now that Gauchan’s there (he previously worked out of Hesperange), many clients have followed him to the Moselle valley town to enjoy his food. He estimates 65% of his clients are locals, adding: “A lot of Luxembourgish clients have become good friends.”
Gauchan has been in Luxembourg for four years, his second stint here. As integrated as he feels, he likes new discoveries too. This autumn, he’ll be at his first Wine and Grape Festival, which takes place in Grevenmacher each September. “Luxembourg City is so multicultural,” he says. “Grevenmacher is quieter, but there’s a really good community here, good people.”
From northern Nepal’s Mustang district, Gauchan specialises in Thakali cuisine. He says there are some 300 Nepali living in the grand duchy but that he’s the only one from this ethnolinguistic group--the Thakali constitute less than 1% of Nepal’s total population. “We don’t use heavy gravy; the food’s fresh, light. Luxembourgers like it because it’s about quality, not quantity,” he says.
Gauchan holding a handmade mask from Nepal Photo: Matic Zorman
He always enjoyed cooking, joking that as a child “I used to play with knives”. He also makes and tastes a variety of cuisines, from Italian to Mexican--easy to do in multicultural Luxembourg. It’s through taste that he has also integrated: he works with three local suppliers to source products but also travels around for good food. “I really love boudin noir [blood sausage]. For that, you have to go to the north of the country.”