KOCHI: Chef Suresh Kumar has always turned to his roots while whipping up familiar, yet enticing flavours in the kitchen. In the past 21 years, he has gained national and international recognition for his distinctive culinary skills. A passion for authentic Kerala cuisine coupled with expertise in fusion food helps chef Suresh stand out.
He was named the ‘best chef of the year’ by Sarovar Hotels in 2014. Over his career, Suresh has worked for international brands like Radisson and Starwood. It was his love for experimentation that made him choose a career in hotel management. “The way to someone’s heart is through their stomach — this saying has always influenced me, and motivated me to enter the culinary field,” says Suresh, who is currently the executive chef at O by Tamara, Thiruvananthapuram.
For the chef, maintaining the authenticity of food is very important. He is meticulous while redefining and synthesising new flavours, especially in Kerala cuisine. Hailing from Angamaly, a small town in Ernakulam district, he tries to bring in flavours that would fit multiple palates across the state.
The chef is also worried that Kerala food is beginning to lose its authenticity. “For instance, if you take the fish or ‘meen’ curry which is an iconic dish from the state, its making varies from district to district. The unique blend of the spices and flavours differentiate them. But now, the authenticity of the dish is slowly getting destroyed so as to suit a larger group of connoisseurs,” Suresh adds.
Having donned the role of executive chef for two years now, Suresh says he has been trying to introduce fusion cuisines to the menu too. “I have been able to cater to visitors from both Northern and Southern part of Kerala. Each state has its own unique things to offer. I have always noticed that Indians love to stick to their palate and preferences, no matter where they travel,” he says.
His favourite picks include ‘The Cassava Cake’, a cutlet made with tapioca and filled with chutney made from shallots and served with a curried mayo. It is one of the hot-sellers. Among main courses, the highlight is Kozhi Idichu Thalichathu, with chicken beaten and then tossed with curry leaves and a tinge of lemon juice and coconut oil.