From multicultural youth to a classic career
"You still need to go to TAFE. Most recipes have
a classic base, you need to learn that somewhere.
A good start is TAFE. People are shying away from it because they are stuck in the dark ages. TAFE with a more modern direction, bosses would encourage more of their apprentices to go." Peter Kuruvita
Born? London, UK in 1963.
Education? At the time of leaving high school it was a natural step to begin a career in cooking and in 1979 I started a chef apprenticeship at East Sydney TAFE. Later, I moved over to complete my third and fourth years at the newly opened Ryde Catering College in Sydney.
Experience? From a very young age a range of rich cultures. My childhood memories are filled with the collaborative influences of my Austrian mother and Sri Lankan father.
Career highlights? Rogues, Rue St Jacques, London, Waterside Inn, Bray, UK with Rous brothers, Blue Water Grill with Neil Perry, Barrenjoey House with Michael McMahon, Bilson's at Circular Quay, Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia, USA, Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island, Yasawa Island Lodge, Fiji, Vatulele Island Resort, Fiji, Avalon Restaurant, Bondi with my wife, All Seasons Hotel, Darling Harbour, Kapu Kapu Barong Resort, Bali and Executive chef at Hayman Island for 2 years consisting of nine F & B outlets then onto this project at Flying Fish in collaboration with Con Dedes.
Favourite cheap eat? Super bowl congee.
What keeps you going? My family and a pure passion and love for what I do.
Advice to future chefs? Set goals and charge towards them and don't let anything get in the way. Also keep your eyes and ears open. If you find it's not you, get out and don't waste everyone's time.
Favourite kitchen tool? Sri Lankan coconut scraper.
Most controversial menu ingredient? Avruga caviar.
Favourite thing about Sydney? It is like one big resort, every one is drawn to the water. It's good if you have a waterfront restaurant.
Most useful cookbook? Food Lovers Companion.
Early influences? My parents who cooked Sri Lankan and Austrian food. Dad taught me passion, and mum taught me the love of pastries and my grandmother who always cooked by taste and memory, never a recipe.
Career turning point? A two-line advertisement in the paper. Looking for a second year apprentice at Rogues restaurant in 1980 working with chef Greg Doyle from Pier.
Career you would have pursued if you didn't become a chef? No idea, it never occurred to me.
Favourite sport? Surfing.
Ingredient obsession? Anything in season.
Purveyors tip? Use lots of them and buy your own when you can. Make sure you go to the seafood and fruit and veg markets.
What are the three wow factors in place at Flying Fish? The fit out, the views, the atmosphere is relaxed elegance, menu is predominantly seafood and the service is friendly and professional. Our location is at the end of the finger wharf at the restored heritage site of Jones Bay Wharf in Sydney's Pyrmont.