How do our food experts cook and eat? This week, Dush takes our Q&A! Dush Ratnayake is the culinary great behind everyone’s favourite CBP brand Bellissima and the host of ‘Dishing with Dush’ on YouTube. In this endearingly funny interview, Dush talks to us about his childhood meals, his dream dinner party guests and the one food he simply cannot be bothered to make!
1. Did you grow up in a cooking family?
- Most definitely. We all basically live to eat. This includes my nuclear family as well as extended family.
2. What is the most useless and useful item in your kitchen right now?
- We have at home a plastic spatula for frying eggs etc, but you can't actually use it because it would most likely melt (Note to self: remember to throw out spatula when I get home). A steel garlic press that was gifted to me. It has changed my life. No more smelly hands. Also, it's extremely efficient at mincing.
3. Do you have a particular habit or ritual when you are in the kitchen cooking?
- Locking my family out of the kitchen. It preserves my sanity.
4. In your opinion, what ingredient is underrated?
- In a Sri Lankan context I think sesame.
5. What was your favourite childhood meal?
- Sri Lankan Chinese from Flower Drum. My first attempt at cooking was trying to replicate their chilli paste and also the first words in English I read as a child were off their takeaway packaging; "Take Me Home".
6. If you had Rs. 500, what meal would you make with it?
- A Kiribath meal is quite budget-friendly. You could cook kiribath for two with lunu miris and maybe two small pieces of chicken for this amount.
7. Who would be your dream dinner-party guests?
- Nigella Lawson, Jordi Roca, Robin Williams (if he was alive), Oprah, Esther Hicks, and a few select friends and family.
8. What dish would you eat but never cook?
- I love Sri Lankan short eats but I hardly ever make them given all the work it requires.
9. It’s your last day on earth, where are you and what are you eating?
- Flower Drum Chinese, bingsu, and bubble tea, while watching horror movies at home with my friends. I hope ubereats is operating through the apocalypse!
10. Easiest meal to impress someone?
- Baked crab with a side of garlic bread!
11. You are entering a cooking competition - which one would it be and who are the judges you are looking to impress?
- I would never do that to myself! No competitions. Life is stressful enough as it is.
12. What’s the most adventurous or exotic food you’ve eaten and from where?
- Too many almost to mention but I think the smorgasbord of varying meats and seafood I got to try while in Belgium; pheasant, periwinkles, grey shrimp, horse, deer etc.
13. Your favourite odd food pairing?
- Red Kidney Beans with Peanut Butter
14. If you could dis-invent a food, what would it be?
- Idli, because it's doughy and steamed. Although, I do love bao buns which are also doughy and steamed. So I don't know, it’s a just a weird hang-up.
15. What’s a dish you’d love to relive for the first time?
- Cheesecake. I remember how taken up I was as a child when I had a bite from my mother's dark cherry cheesecake from Don Stanley's. Now I'm just jaded when it comes to cheesecake and it rarely impresses me. Wish I could have that kind of mind-blowing experience again.
16. Your first memory of cooking?
- My first memory of cooking was watching my grandmother make my Montessori lunch. She would make chicken ham sandwiches cut like teddy bears or cheese toasties with so much cheese that it oozed out to make a thick crust with halved boiled eggs painted like ladybugs. I was in charge of handing over each ingredient as she needed it.
17. What’s does the restaurant of your dreams look like?
- Extremely plush with high tech elements like touch OLED glass worked into the experience, but it should strike a fine balance between being futuristic and cosy.
18. It's 2050 – what are you doing?
- It's a tossup between chilling in a coffin somewhere or running a multimillion (or billion) dollar global company. I prefer the second scenario of course!