TOWN OF ORIGIN
Playing with his dog (Lucy)
Youngest executive chef at a five-star city hotel in Colombo
Gold medal at the live cooking competition conducted by the Chefs Guild of Lanka
Top of the batch in 2008 – Diploma in Tourism and Hospitality Management awarded by the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM)
Executive Sous Chef at Taj Samudra
Chef de Cuisine at Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights
Senior Sous Chef at Taj Samudra
Fruits and Sri Lankan cuisine
King coconut water
Single malt whisky
HIMSELF IN ONE WORD
Chef Samila is known for his hard work and dedication in the kitchen. Having achieved his dream of becoming the Executive Chef at Taj Samudra (Colombo) at a relatively young age, he aspires to train and build a team of talented Sri Lankan chefs, and help them achieve much more in the culinary world.
Q: What was your inspiration to venture into the hospitality trade?
A: My parents were my inspiration. My father wanted to be a chef and my mother is an incredible cook. Once I ventured into the trade, Chef Rohan Fernandopulle played a significant role in moulding, guiding and influencing me.
Q: As a chef, how does your day unfold?
A: I start by supervising the hotel’s nine outlets and 14 sub-kitchens. Then I attend the morning meeting with the other heads of departments after which my focus is on office correspondence such as responding to emails and taking note of special events, as well as requirements for the day. Thereafter, I supervise the lunch service and evening snacks.
I conduct an evening briefing with my team and run through the status of quality, cleanliness, hygiene standards, costing, leave planning and so on. We also schedule the following day’s agenda. My day ends around midnight once the dinner service has concluded.
Q: Your first dish was...?
A: Coconut sambol prepared at home. As a culinary trainee, my first place was at the omelette station.
Q: And what do you consider to be your greatest achievement as a chef?
A: I always wanted to be an executive chef before the age of 35 and have managed to achieve that goal.
Q: Tell us about your most challenging cuisine...
A: Authentic French cuisine is difficult to master because it can go wrong in a matter of seconds. And a dish that I find particularly hard to master is beef well done as you have to be precise with the temperature.
Q: What are the emerging trends in food and drink?
A: As people become more health conscious, healthier food options are in demand. Vegan diets are gaining popularity, and microwavable ready-to-eat meals are surging in demand as a result of busy lifestyles and people eating on the go.
Q: Do you have any advice for the home cooks amongst us?
A: With information so freely available in the form of cookbooks and YouTube videos, keep experimenting and trying out new dishes. You don’t need to have all the ingredients. Make do with what you have at home and learn to optimise your taste.
Q: What are your favourite ingredients?
A: Attitude, team spirit, and salt and pepper!
Q: Name three of your favourite utensils or items of equipment that you find indispensable...
A: A knife, pans and a stove.
Q: Any useful cooking tips or tricks?
A: Respect your ingredients, learn to control the temperature and retain colours as much as possible.
Q: Tell us about your plans...
A: I’d like to be the general manager someday. My vision is to leave a legacy of building up other Sri Lankan chefs.
Q: Your advice to aspiring chefs would be…
A: Hard work and attitude go a long way.
TREASURE ISLAND SEAFOOD COCKTAIL
Sauté all the stock ingredients in olive oil and butter. Add water, season accordingly and bring to boil. Place the crab, lobster and mussels in the master stock, and allow it to simmer until the meat is tender and soft.
Remove the shells once cooled and marinate the meat with salt, pepper, lemon juice and white wine. Set the seafood in the chiller along with slices of fresh salmon and tuna.
To plate, place the lettuce as the base that holds the salad. Arrange the seafood with egg and capers, and dress the salad with sriracha, mayonnaise and lime. Decorate with crushed ice for presentation.
This recipe serves two persons