TOWN OF ORIGIN
Wife and daughter
Som Tam (Thai papaya salad)
Ginger and lime tea
HIMSELF IN ONE WORD
Chaminda Pathirana is an advocate of fresh organic food. Not only is he pas-sio-nate about the art of cooking but his positive attitude and desire to keep learning and growing are what set him apart. He is the Executive Chef at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort.
Q: As a chef, how does your day unfold?
A: I start by supervising the breakfast service. Then I conduct the morning briefing with the heads of departments and senior chefs, and review the day’s operations.
Apart from handling office correspondence, monitoring stocks and storage, I engage with our guests to ensure that all requests and dietary re-quirements are met. I then take a short break in the evening before attending to the dinner service.
Q: Who inspired you to venture into the hospitality trade?
A: My uncle owned a catering business and I absolutely loved helping him out in the kitchen during school holidays. My cousin, who was also a chef, encouraged me to join the trade when he noticed my passion for food.
Q: What was your first dish?
A: Fried rice. I had no supervision and it was the first time I’d donned a chef’s jacket. I remember being commended by the executive chef and it’s one of my best memories.
Q: And your greatest achievement as a chef is...?
A: I’m proud of my efforts in managing the kitchen operations of three Anantara properties as the Cluster Executive Chef and later, Acting Ex-ecutive Chef. My other notable achievements include working alongside talented Michelin star chefs.
Q: Tell us about your most challenging cooking experience...
A: Catering to a royal wedding of 4,000 guests at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel was my most challenging experience. Although height-ened security and scale of the event posed challenges to the culinary team, we were able to pull it off.
Q: What are the emerging trends in food and drink?
A: With people becoming more health conscious, the demand for fresh organic produce and locally produced ingredients is on the rise. Immuni-ty boosting foods and superfoods are making their way onto our plates – especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For instance, Harvest Table is a farm-to-table initiative by Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort where vegetables are picked from the re-sort’s gardens and meals are prepared in front of the guests. I think this kind of earthy cooking with a low carbon footprint will be the future.
Q: Your advice for the home cooks amongst us...
A: Health is wealth! Enjoy experimenting with local produce and support local farmers in the process. Grow an edible garden – it’s good for the body as well as the soul. Minimise the use of trans fats and cook with love.
Q: What are your three favourite ingredients?
A: Avocado, extra virgin olive oil and Sri Lankan curry powder.
Q: Name three of your favou-rite utensils that you can’t do without...
A: Knife, chopping board and spatula.
Q: Can you tell us about your future plans...
A: Currently, I’m overlooking a resort containing 152 rooms and villas with four outlets. I’m also aspiring to take over an expanded operation with more outlets, varying cuisines and a larger team.
Q: Your advice to aspiring chefs would be…
A: It all begins with the desire to be a chef. Be prepared to work long hours and perform under pressure, and remember that discipline plays a major role. Always be open to learning and adapting, and have a positive attitude.
– Compiled by Andrea Melisa
WILD QUINOA SALAD
Simmer the quinoa in water in a covered saucepan for about 20 minutes and allow it to cool. For the dressing, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, mustard, sherry vinegar and honey.
Drizzle some olive oil onto a mix of diced zucchini, sweet potato, bell pepper, shallots, garlic and thyme, and bake these in the oven until they’re golden-brown. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and add the baked vegetables, cherry tomatoes, avocado, fresh parsley and pumpkin seeds. Pour the dressing onto the mixture, and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, use a round shape cutter to mould the quinoa, and top it with pomegranate seeds and micro herbs. The dish can be enjoyed with toasted multigrain bread.