Chef of the Week: Jomon Kuriakose, Chef De Cuisine at The Lalit London

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been at The Lalit London for almost 4 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
It is a purely unconditional love towards food. However, food was always my weakness. During my childhood days, whenever I was on my own at home, I tried to cook. My mum was not happy with my eating habits! Once she complained to one of my teachers about this. It was my teacher who inspired me to choose catering as my career option. He is Mr. Sunil D Kuruvilla and I’m always grateful to him.

With over a decade of experience in the kitchen, I’m passionate about creative flavours and innovative dining, looking forward and working hard to achieve a modern perspective to Indian food, especially my own Kerala cuisine. Moreover, I appeared in BBC Celebrity Masterchef 2018 –a world recognised cookery show, to teach two British celebrities about Indian food and its unique cooking techniques. I am currently working as Chef de Cuisine (Acting Executive Chef) at Baluchi, the pan-Indian dining destination within The Lalit London, I’m responsible for creating new and exciting dishes to continually enhance the menu, as well as leading the kitchen team on a day-to-day basis.

Born and raised in Kerala, India, I have completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management from Sarosh Institute of Hotel Administration at Mangalore University. Upon graduating, I was offered my first role within Speciality Restaurant Pvt Ltd, one of India’s leading restaurant groups, as Chef de Partie at Sigree.

I moved to London in 2008 and took up the role of Chef de Partie at Bombay Palace, where I was able to strengthen and expertise in an authentic Indian cuisine and developed my skills in fine Anglo-Indian dining.

In 2012, I was appointed Senior Chef de Partie at Cinnamon Kitchen, a modern Indian restaurant in London merging Eastern spices with Western culinary styles. There I quickly progressed to Sous Chef, learning under the guidance of Executive Chef and CEO Vivek Singh. I joined Baluchi at the Lalit London as Chef de Cuisine in 2017.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The team, busy atmosphere and the happy smile of the diners after the meal.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, sugar and lemon.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Tandoor or oven.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Root to stem – minimum wastage and maximum utilisation of ingredients are the key.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
I feel chefs should come out of the comfort zone and try new ingredients and experiment.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Mostly spring, it has a very positive energy of new beginnings and freshness, especially lots of fresh vibrant vegetables and fruits.

I love to adapt seasonality in my diet. Vegetables and fruits bring best taste and quality when it is in season.

Spring brings tender asparagus; purple broccoli sprouts and winter comes with fabulous root vegetables.

We grow vegetables, herbs and fruits in our kitchen garden with our kids and make them understand and educate the importance of healthy diet in life. Colourful veggies on the menu will give more comfort and good health.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I do cook with great integrity, love and passion so whatever I cook or create it’s from  heart. For me it’s difficult to choose any particular dish like, a mum to pick her most favourite kid!

How do you come up with new dishes?
It could be anything like a previous memory of any meal that I had in my home tow. Any new ingredients I have seen, any plating ideas that come to me, sometimes music, colours of nature, unique ingredients, anything could influence me.

I do constantly peep through the market, having direct contact with my suppliers for new arrivals, I do update myself thorough social media for the regular changes happening in the industry.

Who was your greatest influence?
My mum.

Tell us three chefs you admire

What is your favourite cookbook?
I hardly get time to read in my busy schedule. However, the one book I still admire is ‘Larousse Gastronomique’ – the gastronomy encyclopaedia.