MASTER OF FUSION
TOWN OF ORIGIN
Wife and son
Spending time with family
Rice and curry
HIMSELF IN ONE WORD
Chef Rohan Perera is known for his imagi-natively crafted fusion dishes. Following stints at restaurants in Dubai, Singapore and Colombo, he is currently the ExecutiveChef at Park Street Mews. Always ready to experiment in the kitchen, his dedication, hard work and creativity have brought uni-queness to the delicious food he prepares.
Q: How does your day unfold?
A: I start my day with a walk and then attend to my son. I then visit the restaurant at around 10 o’clock, and take note of what needs to be done regarding groceries and special orders if any. Depending on the number of staff available, I plan the day.
Q: Who inspired you to venture into the hospitality trade?
A: My brother inspired me to enter the food industry and I started working in 1989.
Q: What was your first dish?
A: Southern fried chicken – and I still remember the details!
Q: So what do you consider your greatest achievement as a chef?
A: My cold meat platter won a gold medal at the Culinary Arts Competition in 1992, silver in 1993 and bronze in 1994.
Q: Tell us about your most challenging culinary event…
A: My most challenging event was cooking for MasterChef contestant Kumar Pereira’s dinner at Park Street Mews a few years ago. We had to prepare Asian and Western fusion dishes.
Q: What are the emerging trends in food and drink?
A: Fusion cuisine that combines local flavours is definitely the trend now. Along with healthier food options like health juices, that’s what I bring to the restaurant here.
Q: Would you have any advice for the home cooks amongst us?
A: Try new things and experiment with healthy fusion food without sticking to standard Sri Lankan fare.
Q: What are your three favourite ingredients?
A: Garlic, onion and assorted herbs.
Q: Name three utensils you can’t do without…
A: Knife, chopping board and tongs.
Q: Do you have any cooking tips or tricks…?
A: You don’t need shortcuts or tricks if you’re well prepared. As long as you use the right ingredients, you’ll be fine. Moreover, if your presentation is good, it will work out.
Q: In view of your current role, what plans do you have for the future?
A: I hope to develop more creative preparations.
Q: What advice would you offer aspiring chefs?
A: Listen to your head chef, read to keep yourself updated, work hard and experiment because that’s the only way you can survive in this sector. The hotel trade calls for hard work but if you’re dedicated and consistent, you can make it to the top.
Q: And do you see growth in the industry?
A: Yes, now more than ever. Things have changed and improved, and people are looking for creativity; not simply standard fare.
– Compiled by Andrea Melisa
GRILLED BARRAMUNDI WITH MUSHROOM, SPINACH AND SPICY COCONUT CREAM SAUCE
180g barramundi fillet
200g baby spinach
1 small onion
1 fresh chilli pod
250ml coconut cream
120g fresh mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
Place the butter, onion, garlic and ginger in a large pan over medium heat, and cook them until they’re almost tender. Add the salt and allow it to cook for two minutes more. Then add the spinach and mushrooms in batches, stirring the mixture thoroughly after each addition until both have wilted.
Once the spinach has wilted, add the coconut cream and bring the mixture to the boil while maintaining medium heat. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat and stir the concoction as it simmers for three minutes. Blending in more of the initially prepared mixture (which includes onion, garlic, ginger, spinach and mushroom) will make the mixture thicker.
Season the fish with salt and pepper, and heat a large and heavy nonstick frying pan over a medium to high flame. Pour a tablespoon of oil into the pan and gently place the seasoned fish in it with the skin side down. Cook the barramundi fillet by pressing it down against the pan for the first two minutes and let it cook for five more minutes – until the skin turns golden brown and becomes crisp.
Add a small serving of the mushroom, spinach and coconut cream mixture onto the plate, then place the barramundi over the sauce. Top the dish with the rest of the mixture – and there you have it!