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Take home chef
The fasting...the traffic...the expenses. Any of these, or quite possibly, all of these reasons together may just be why you cannot indulge in fine dining as often as you'd like to. What if we told you that you could enjoy a five-star meal in the comfort of your home, cooked up from the stuff you have in the fridge? Yes, it is possible. And to show you how, we borrowed a chef from The Westin, Dhaka, and had him whip up some surprisingly snappy treats using ingredients from an everyday kitchen. This week, we're sharing the recipes with you
In a sea of foreign faces wielding the wok at the swanky eateries and upscale restaurants, Simon Gomes graces Splash, the poolside restaurant at The Westin, Dhaka. Specialising in Mexican and Italian cuisine, Gomes holds his own at one of the most exclusive haute cuisine hotspots in town.
Not that this distinction was easily attained; at only 28, he has already spent a large proportion of his life learning and honing his trade. “I took Parjatan's culinary course in 1997. After serving an attachment in Sheraton for a year, I went to Dubai, where over the course of six years, I worked in three different five-star hotels,” Gomes said of his early days in the profession. “After that a restaurant owner took me to London where I worked in World Steak House, where the focus was mainly on steaks.”
He then came back to Bangladesh in 2006, after which he went to Malaysia for the re-opening of a restaurant called Spitfire. He returned within a year and joined The Westin Dhaka, where he has now established himself as department-in-charge of Splash, having spent some time working in Prego, an Italian restaurant in the five-star hotel.
Talking to him, one gets a sense of the passion he feels for his trade. This, as he reveals, originates from his family's proud culinary tradition, one that is liberally spiced with intrigue. “When I was young my grandmother used to tell me how my grandfather rose quickly up the ranks to become the executive sous chef of Kolkata's Grand Hotel, and how jealousy at this fact prompted his colleagues to poison him,” he said.
“This happened in 1955, and my father, at the age of fifteen started working as a chef. When I was growing up he used to work at the Dhaka Sheraton. My brother and I used to spend most of our time in the kitchens of the hotel, and that is where I picked up my passion for cooking. I saw it as a creative exercise, and I used to, and still, love playing around with food to create something new and fresh. This may involve a fusion of cuisines; the key is to see cooking as a creative exercise.”
He considers himself an Italian specialist, although the wide range of his work experience renders him an expert in almost all types of cuisine. His personal favourite is Mexican food, although the Bangladeshi cuisine is never far away. He is also somewhat of a TV celebrity, having appeared in Channel I's Hari Karai Ranna Lorai.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of all this is that while we know that one of our own is cooking delicious cuisine in our very own city, very few of us have the luxury to go and try it on a regular basis. Despair not, because Star Lifestyle has brought you closer to the chef. Although we cannot take you to his house, which would be a foodie's delight considering the wealth of culinary expertise in the Gomes household, we can bring you the next best thing.
In an exclusive photo shoot for Star Lifestyle, Simon Gomes has prepared and provided the recipes of three dishes that are guaranteed to whet appetites for fine dining, so that our readers can bring a little of the five-star flavour into their homes.
Green chicken curry (Thai)
Carrot and rice pudding
On The Cover
As if it ever went out of style. This week, we're toasting THE infallible colour of fashion, with tips on how to wear it and stay on top of the trends this season. Flip to the centre for the scoop.
By Wasia Mehnaz Minna
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