By Venessa Anthony
Don Shehan is a professional chef with almost 10 years of experience, mainly overseas. He has always been passionate about all things culinary and loves to try different food, ingredients, and cooking methods wherever he goes. It’s a massive part of his life. Aside from cooking, Shehan also loves spending time with my family, travelling, and watching cricket whenever possible. The Morning Brunch reached out to him for a chat on his culinary journey and more.
What inspired your career choice?
Cooking seemed such an intriguing activity for me, even as a child. I used to watch my grandmother leisurely go about her daily chores in the kitchen. That’s where she spent most of her day, and I later realised that she chose to spend her day in the kitchen. I also loved the idea of professional cooking involving a lot of teamwork, especially having played a lot of sports in school.
Do you follow trends in food? Do any trends excite you?
While I have preferences in cooking, as a professional chef, I have to keep an eye out for the latest food trends. Familiarising myself with new trends in the culinary world helps me grow as a chef, bring my A-game to competitions, and create exciting menus and recipes.
What have you done to improve your skills in the last year?
I spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka and the Philippines last year, which allowed me to explore ingredients and expand my knowledge of Lankan and Filipino cuisines. What I can do with the knowledge I gained during this time excites me.
How important do you think is food presentation?
Presentation, in my opinion, is almost as important as taste. Presentation gives a chef a unique way of satisfying people, in addition to the obvious – the taste. It can be the deciding factor between a good dish and a great dish. As a result, presenting food in engaging ways is one of my high priorities whenever I cook, even at home.
How did you master the art of food plating?
I started competing in culinary competitions very early in my career. Thanks to that early start, I had enough time to work on plating skills parallel to my cooking expertise and knowledge. My plating skills played a huge part in helping me win competitions, especially overseas.
What have you learned over your career as a chef?
The importance of passion when it comes to anyone’s career. I think many professions demand constant growth, which requires a lot of passion. Additionally, chefs have busy schedules that can be stressful at times. Genuinely loving what I do is the only way to satisfy my work obligations and grow as a chef simultaneously.
What was the most memorable dish you created and why?
It isn’t easy to pick. However, I came up with some Sri Lankan dishes for fine dining last year. It was challenging, since creating recipes and plating Lankan food for a fine-dining setting is tricky. However, I’m proud of the results, especially how my steamed white rice, pol sambol, and fried dried fish combo came out.
Any new dishes or recipes coming up?
Yes, of course. I plan to cook and plate some exciting Sri Lankan and international dishes for my friends on Instagram. I’ve done a lot of hard work this year exploring ingredients, cooking methods, and edible flowers, all of which will help me create some excellent dishes.