Dish It Out – Yashasvi Kannangara

Nov 16 2023.

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How do our food experts cook and eat? This week, food consultant and food reviewer Yashasvi of CookEatReviewRepeat, takes our Q&A!

1. Did you grow up in a cooking family?
- My mom hates cooking and my dad hardly ever did. I never really got to know my grandma, so cooking was never a family thing for me. I moved out when I was quite young to attend the University of Kelaniya and was on my own on a very small allowance given by my parents, so I HAD to learn how to cook so as to manage my expenses. That’s how it started. 

2. Tell us about your journey to become a food consultant. 
- To be honest, it was a passion that grew. I honestly really love cooking and sharing food. I was also a journalist for a while and ended up doing a lot of food reviews and conducting research into food culture, both locally and globally; it also gave me the chance to meet impactful individuals from gastronomy and mixology. Meeting like people and becoming a part of a ‘food community’ helped too. I suppose it’s many things coming together that led me to food consulting.

3. How did CookEatReviewRepeat come about?
- For the longest time as a personal page, sharing what I ate, the restaurants I reviewed, the recipes I cooked often and celebrating the wholesomeness of Sri Lankan food, in general. One day, YAMU wanted to feature my page; it was then that the topic of publicizing it came up. I opened it up then and since then it’s grown to form its own footprint on the local ‘foodie landscape’. 

4. Cooking vs. Eating – which one wins?
- Cooking and Eating are two sides of the same coin, I really couldn’t pick one over the other. The labour of creating in the kitchen leads to the satisfaction of your palate and many of your senses! 

5. What ingredient is underrated and can make or break a dish for you?
- I think the whole concept of ‘convenience cooking’ had taken away a lot of the beauty of preparing a meal that will nourish its recipients. While it’s understood that the modern-day hustle barely leaves any room for leisurely cooking; nothing can replace using fresh, homegrown, small farmer or seasonal produce. In this case, Sri Lankan produce - sorting, cleaning, prepping and creating something that is grown using sunlight, fresh air and water (all the better if you’re lucky enough to witness this process occur), can make a world of difference.

6. What was your favourite childhood meal? 
- One of my favourite things to eat as a kid was chicken liver curry and hot-hot Kadey Paan. I know that’s weird but I loved it! Vanilla ice cream and jelly were also a treat! 

7. You’ve travelled quite extensively – which country had the best food for you?
- I wouldn’t say I’ve travelled extensively, but of the world I’ve seen, Malaysia really blew me away - the combined influences of Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines, accented by the growing westernized presence produced some sensational food! I must also say that Singapore is another favourite food stop for me! 

8. What’s the most adventurous food you’ve tried so far?
- I like trying weird things, or food I’ve never had, so I’ve had a few of them. Some of my favourites are fish eye balls, goat brain, chicken hearts, century eggs, snail and baby octopus head.

9. What’s a dish/meal you’ve had that you can’t stop thinking about?
- So many! I think about food a lot - there can’t be one… one thing I’ve been obsessing over these days is Yakiniku Wagyu with Egg Yolk. I haven’t had it yet, but I really, REALLY want to

10. What food trend do you hate right now?
- The West taking something ancient from the Eastern foodscape and making a smoothy or “health elixir” with it, without having any idea how to use it - Moringa, Turmeric, and now Ashwagandha!

11. Easiest meal you would make to impress someone?
- My Roast Chicken and Twice Cooked Potatoes with Chimichurri 

12. Your favourite odd food pairing?
- Cassava Crisps, Cream Cheese, Chilli Powder, Treacle 

13. Your most unpopular opinion on food/dish/cuisine?
- I will dislike overly cinnamon-y sweets/desserts -cinnamon rolls, apple pie- no matter how good you claim them to be. Use it like a spice, not like vanilla in your butter cake.

14. What’s a dish you’d love to relive for the first time?
- A perfectly cooked steak, over and over again.

15. What’s the best part about being married to a chef?
- That you always get treated to the most amazing home-cooked meals! It’s also great travelling with him because we are always on the hunt for different foods, flavours, ingredients and techniques of cooking. 

16. When you are reviewing a restaurant – what are your markers for a good one?
Their menu is small and the use of ingredients is seasonal/local
They source their produce fresh or directly from farmers
The pairing of ingredients is bold and yet complementary
The dishes aren’t overly complicated or elaborate
The staff is educated on each dish
Efficient Service 
Unpretentious fit out/set up
Most importantly, Taste!

19. Your comfort food after a long day? 
- I always look for a long black, medium roast coffee with a homemade or housemade slice of buttery cake. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

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


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