Magazine

Kitchen Confidential: chef Shaluka Sudasinghe

Food & Drink

Shaluka Sudasinghe, head chef at The Hideaways Club's villa in Maliga Kanda near Galle in Sri Lanka on culinary influences, favourite puddings and strange ingredients. "Often the most simple in appearance can be the most complicated dish to make, and for me it is the Sri Lankan hopper." Interview by Trisha Andres

Born in 1977, Shaluka Sudasinghe grew up in the historic town of Galle, Sri Lanka. He first started out as a trainee cook before becoming a chef in restaurants and private villas in Sri Lanka, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, India, the Middle East and the UK. Sudasinghe lives in Galle with his wife and three children. He is the head chef at The Hideaways Club's villa, Maliga Kanda near Galle in Sri Lanka.

When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
From an early age. When I was young, I would help my parents with their takeaway business in Sri Lanka.

What has been the most complex dish you've been asked to make?
Often the most simple in appearance can be the most complicated to make and for me it is the Sri Lankan hopper, a round pancake with a crispy edge made from rice flour and coconut milk. Preparation takes three hours and it is difficult to perfect. I like to pop an egg into the centre and serve it with a mild spicy coconut sambol.

Who are your culinary influences?
Jamie Oliver and Bill Granger. Locally, chef Publis Silva who has worked with Rick Stein.

What are you most proud of making?
Sri Lankan cuisine.

What is the strangest ingredient you've had to use?
In Singapore, I made a soup with black chicken.

What is your favourite restaurant?
Amangalla in Galle Fort is laudable for its consistent quality. But now that Sri Lanka is in its fifth year of peace, travellers from all over the world are visiting, bringing with them a demanding palate, so the restaurant scene is responding and growing.

What is the best piece of advice a parent or mentor gave you?
Never give up. Believe in yourself and try to be disciplined.

What dish would you teach your own child to make to introduce them to cooking?
To be a chef you have to enjoy pleasing people, and so I'd start them off with an omelet. It is simple to do well and be can easily adapted to suit many tastes.

What are the three things everyone should have in their kitchen?
A good team, an awareness of time and a happy disposition.

Who would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party?
My father, whose passion for different cuisines and flavours was a treat in itself.

What would your last meal be?
A spicy Sri Lankan curry.

Is there one particular recipe that brings back especially vivid memories?
Coq au vin. It was the first western dish I made and it was delicious.

What is your current favourite pudding?
Ginger cheesecake topped with cream and strawberry coulis with a drizzle of honey.

Who is your perfect dinner guest?
My best friend

What is your hobby?
My hobby is reading science fiction. I am a fan of writer Arthur C Clark who used to live nearby.

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