Gourmet Galle: Peter Kuruvita

Mar 20 2024.

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A household name both in Sri Lanka and abroad, Peter Kuruvita’s culinary journey began in the traditional kitchen of his ancestral home in Colombo, Sri Lanka. With over 4 decades of experience, he has flourished as an award-winning chef, restaurateur, TV presenter, author and industry speaker and has put Sri Lankan cuisine on the culinary maps of the world.  He successfully established Sydney’s iconic Flyish Fish Restaurant & Bar in 2004 and Noosa Beach House in 2013 where he showcased coastal produce infused with Sri Lankan spices. He has also published three cookbooks – ‘Serendip – My Sri Lankan Kitchen’, ‘My Feast’ and ‘Lands of the Curry Leaf’.

Wrapping up a successful run of the first-ever Gourmet Galle, Peter Kuruvita will take over the coasts of Sri Lanka this weekend to host dinner and conduct a masterclass. Ahead of his visit, he talks to us about his journey into the culinary world, and the evolution of his signature style and gives us a sneaky teaser into his masterclass.

Tell us a little about your journey with food and the culinary world. How did it all start? I got into the culinary world when my family immigrated to Australia in 1974.  After my first job, I got my second job with one of the best chefs in Australia and I had the opportunity to see and work with some incredible produce. This was a turning point for me. I knew that cooking and being a chef was something I loved and wanted to do.  After I finished my apprenticeship, I went to Europe and worked there for three years in great Michelin-starred restaurants. When I came back to Australia, Neil Perry asked me to come to be his head chef at his famous Blue Water Grill restaurant and everything just took off. From there it was a matter of pushing and learning. My learning journey still hasn’t stopped!

Can you recall a particular moment or memory which started your love for food? It all starts at home if you were lucky enough to have family that cooked. Our house in Karagampitiya, Dehiwala, that’s where we all grew up and that’s where it all started. When we immigrated to Australia in 1974, we battled our way through a new country and when it was time for us to eventually look for jobs, it was actually my father who recognised my love for food and cooking and asked me to go ask for a job in a restaurant. That was the beginning.

What’s your signature style when it comes to food and cooking? In the years when I was learning from all these great chefs, my style was traditional French cuisine because I’m a traditionally trained French chef which really helped when I was in Europe. But when I came back to Australia and worked with Neil Perry who was introducing a new restaurant where Asian cuisine took the spotlight,  that’s where my signature style was formulated. Because here he was serving Asian food at a fine dining table in 1982. I thought to myself, if he can present this type of food and it's accepted by the majority of the fine dining clientele, why should Sri Lankan food not have the same spotlight? I then worked on developing my style little by little to bring Sri Lankan food out from the umbrella of Indian food so it can be recognised on its own.  

As a professional chef, what’s your honest advice for the home cook? For the home cook – never start to cook a thing until you have read the entire recipe and understood it. A lot of people don’t understand why certain ingredients go first and don’t realise how big of an impact such a small step can have on how the flavours come through. My advice is to really look at what you need and take your time. Then, do all the preparation beforehand and begin to cook. Eventually,  let the recipe go and make it your own by adding the things you like so you can create your own legacy.

What’s in store for your session at Gourmet Galle? Hoping to do this very intimate chef’s table. I’ll start off with a classic favourite – pol sambol and village bread. I’ll also work with some incredible seafood like butter-poached crab, black pepper curry leaf prawns with whipped paneer, tamarind glazed barramundi and snapper curry. For dessert, a sweet mango custard with coconut and roasted white chocolate. Each course will be paired with wine.  

What’s the ‘one-off’ recipe you’ll treat guests to at your Masterclass on Sunday? If it’s a surprise, could you give us a teaser? It’s definitely a surprise. But as a little teaser, I would say I would be focusing on Modern Sri Lankan food – understanding your ingredients, tips and tricks where I show how traditional techniques and modern recipes can merge. Catch Peter Kuruvita this Saturday, the 23 for dinner at Cape Weligama or learn the secrets of modern Sri Lankan cooking at his masterclass on Sunday, the 24th.  

For more details, visit https:// gourmetgalle.com

PIX COURTESY:
GOURMET GALLE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..

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