'Food always tastes better in good company'

Filed on March 27, 2020

Chef Sonu Koithara, Executive Chef, Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers

Your favourite memory of food.
Home-cooked food by my mother. A lot of the recipes that I use now are inspired by my childhood. Growing up, neither of us could have guessed that I would become a chef.

What would you consider the most challenging part of your job?
Working during holidays and important occasions is challenging, particularly when you are away from family.

Do you have a personal mantra or motto that drives the way you cook food?
I always try to understand the unique characteristics of the ingredients I use and work closely with the team to create the best dishes with them.

If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve them?
My dream would be to host a chef's table for the culinary legends - Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Jamie Oliver and Alain Ducasse. Is that too much to ask for?

How often do you eat out? What's your favourite place around town?
I eat out about once a week. I am new to Dubai and am still discovering the culinary landscape here.

After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
On my days off from work, I cook for my family and we eat together. This time is most important to us as it allows us to bond as a family.

You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
Black Lava Salt & Cochin Vanilla Pod Ice Cream. Black Lava Salt is unrefined volcanic salt with a distinctive earthy flavour, known to remove impurities in the body. The colour due to the presence of activated charcoal will make the ice cream visually interesting and the flavour would be extremely unique to the palate.

Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
Legendary French chef Alain Ducasse, for the affordable, yet breathtaking dining experiences he offers using seasonal ingredients.

Favourite comfort food?
I keep it simple. I love big, juicy burgers. To me, there is nothing more comforting than the taste of a tender burger patty that's packed with flavour.  

One ingredient or dish you can't stand - and why?
Back when I was in the Maldives, I hated working with sea cucumbers due to their slippery and gelatinous texture. I have never been able to understand how such a bland and visually-unappealing ingredient could be considered a delicacy.  

If you could choose a last meal, what would it be?
I would choose any meal at home with my family, prepared with love by my mother. Food always tastes better in good company and there is no one I would rather spend my last meal with other than my family.

Your favourite culinary destination in the world - and why?
Calcutta, because it is the city of joy and a paradise for food lovers. It is one of the most happening culinary destinations in India, bursting with new ideas and creativity.

Where can we find you, when not in the kitchen?
You won't be able to find me! I'll be out and about, exploring the city and discovering all its hidden gems.
- Staff Reporter


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