On the Couch with Peter Kuruvita

Peter will take you behind the scenes and introduce you to all the delights of Sri Lankan cuisine
Peter will take you behind the scenes and introduce you to all the delights of Sri Lankan cuisine

Renowned chef and SBS TV personality Peter Kuruvita took a few precious moments out of the kitchen to chat with us about his upbringing in Australia and the evolution into his inspiring culinary career.

What was it like moving to Australia from Sri Lanka as a young boy? 
1974 was a hard time for a brown boy to be in Australia, the culture shock was enormous. There were so many amazing modern things that blew me away, but there was also the bullying and bigotry. The lessons were hard and all of us knew we would have to be strong to get through it. The obvious benefits of being here and the opportunities that presented themselves, though at the time I did not recognise, were boundless.

How did you discover your passion for cooking and when did you decide to turn it into a career?  The passion for cooking was continually around me but what really cemented in my mind is when I spent time with my grandmother in her old kitchen, it was a hive of activity, starting with a daily trip to the market, followed by the cooking, sorting and preparing of the fabulous and constantly changing produce. Nothing was done lightly, no meal was ever put on the table without the seasoning being checked and adjusted. It was an act of love, not an act of preparing a meal.

The second came when I was 16, out of school and a bit lost, the amazing passion for food had long been replaced by anger, through the bullying and pressure of arriving in this country. My father told me I could leave school only if I had a job, so I had to ride with him every day till I decided on a career path. Nothing really appealed to me. Until...driving in our suburb two months after I had left school, my dad stopped the car outside a restaurant. He looked at me and said ‘you like cooking, go and ask for a job’. The rest is history.
What is the highlight for travellers on your ‘My Sri Lanka’ tour? Being totally immersed in real Sri Lankan life. I believe that as the country emerges and more people travel there, the experiences start to become similar. I offer a different perspective and a refreshingly unique view of my ancestral home. I love taking them to the markets, and introducing them to people I know, handing someone a piece of fruit they have never tasted or showing them an ingredient they are unfamiliar with.

You take travellers ‘behind the scenes’ on your My Sri Lanka tour with World Expeditions – what does this mean? Come and meet the people I met, have some real experiences with every day Sri Lankans, and learn how to cook in the village style.

What are the essential ingredients in Sri Lankan cooking? Fresh spices, good ingredients and a passion for flavour, a trip to Sri lanka would also help, because once you have tasted the food, you will realise it is not Indian or any other type of curry, it is uniquely Sri Lankan.

Best Sri Lankan restaurants in Australia? Sydney would be Rams takeaway in Homebush West, Melbourne has a few Cinnamons and the Elephant Corridor, but there are many more.

Favourite meal to cook at home for the family? We still have rice and curry weekly in our home, I go by the availability of produce, just like I did with my grandmother 40 years ago.

‘My Sri Lanka’ with Peter Kuruvita departs 9 October 2015 - Book Now >>


Peter Kuruvita

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