Young, passionate and driven Chef Sujith Opatharachchi is one of the many rising stars at Colombo’s lean luxury hotel Cinnamon Red. Having joined the team as a junior sous chef, he has shown exceptional skill and dedication in his work at the hotel and has brought glory to both Cinnamon Red and Sri Lanka at the recently concluded International East Coast Salon Culinaire and Cocktails Competition held in the UAE.
Orgnaised by the Emirates Culinary Guild, the competition is a series of practical and display-based culinary challenges intended to test the differing skills of preparation and presentation of food and its accoutrements in attractive and pleasing forms. Opatharachchi competed in three categories and won bronze medals in all of them.
“I competed in the Three Course Gourmet Dinner Menu, Beef Practical Cookery and Chicken Practical Cookery,” Opatharachchi said. “It was tough competing with some of the best in the world. The judges look at all the details, from the point of planning to the final outcome.”
He contended with over 500 competitors from top international hotel chains including some 200 Sri Lankan chefs now residing in the gulf. However, it was only him and another chef representing Sri Lanka at the event. “I was determined to win,” he said, “and I am proud to have won medals in all three categories.”
While the interest in competing on a global scale was something he harboured ever since he got into the field in 2002, Opatharachchi notes with gratitude the assistance extended by the Cinnamon Red family. “Ever since I joined, the kitchen team led by Executive Chef Sachindra Gamage and Chef Asela Nissanka were very helpful. They taught me the ropes around the hotel which runs on a different concept than the other, with much care and patience. Because of them I managed to learn the ropes of operations fast,” he asserted. “General Manager Terrence Fernando was a great encourager. He always inspires us to be creative and to do new things. His support towards the competition and the preparation was remarkable.”
With multiple wins at the Chefs Guild Competition from 2011 onwards, this was his first international win. Speaking on what he made, Opatharachchi explained that for the Three Course Gourmet Set Menu he cooked smoked quail breast stuffed with vegetables, chicken lollipop and pomegranate gam, foie gra stuffed marinated duck breast, olive and polenta crusted veal loin, ivory coast chocolate cigar and, strawberry macaroons and a coconut volcano.
For the Beef Practical Cookery he created an olive-crusted marinated beef rump along with cauliflower couscous and pumpkin cake and chicken leg quarter stuffed foie gra accompanied with edamame, stuffed leak bud and roasted onion with chicken casserole for Chicken Practical Cookery.
“Since I love creativity and innovation, I am very passionate about these competitions which look at skill in all forms. My aspiration is to contend at the Culinary Olympics very soon.”
Source : FT