Veteran Chef Publis says cuisine should be part of school curriculum


By Harischandra Gunaratna

Chef Dr. Publis Silva presents the first copy of one of the two books launched on Culinary Art on Monday to the Chairman Mount Lavinia Hotel, Sanath Ukwatte, at a ceremony held at the hotel on Monday.

Veteran Culinary expert and icon Dr. Publis Silva who is the Director Culinary Affairs and Promotions of Mount Lavinia Hotel said that Sri Lankan cuisine has more value than our gems and the government should open culinary schools in every city of the country and Sri Lankan cuisine should be introduced as a part of home science taught in the school curriculam.

It is one way that we can take our food culture to the world and Sri Lankan cuisine could be a main tourist attraction if introduced in the appropriate manner, the veteran said.

Foreigners don’t come here to partake of food which is served in their countries and they would always like to savour a variety of indigenous food, if available.

The veteran chef warned the authorities about the cautioning of foreigners at the BIA as they arrive about the food and water in Sri Lanka and added it will instill an unnecessary fear in trying out our cuisine here.

Our food preparations should be promoted and popularised locally and the chefs, housewives and whoever prepares the food must ensure that no artificial colouring or flavours are added, which is highly poisonous and eating such food which included these ingredients could lead to serious illnesses.

Chef Publis said that unfortunately those who prepare the curriculam are not those who have an iota of an idea about cuisine and know little or nothing about the subject.

They should seek advise from culinary experts in the country before introducing Sri Lankan cuisine to the curriculam, the veteran chef pointed out.

Asked about the obstacles faced in this respect, he said that the Health Ministry, the Education Ministry and the chefs at large in the country have to get together, plan and implement a formula.

"Before we take our cuisine to the world we have to improve its standard here and make it more authentic," he said.

Most Sri Lankans have no idea about what authentic Sri Lankan cuisine is and they should learn about the authentic preparations and our own food culture, Publis said.

He said everything is subject to change in the world and the science of food is no exception. Hence, we have to develop a food culture of our own and protect it.

It has to be a food culture that is akin to the culture of the country and there are six different sub-food cultures in Sri Lanka of Sinhalese, Tamils, Burghers, Malays, Moors and the Veddhas and we have to amalgamate all these in a food culture of our own, Dr. Publis noted.

‘Kottu’ is a preparation which originated in Sri Lanka, but we should prepare it with what is locally available such as ‘Bada Iringu’ (Maize) instead of wheat flour, which is used at present to prepare it, Dr Publis added.

‘Kottu’ can even be prepared with jack, he said. The reason many people get sick is that most of the food they consume is prepared with unhealthy ingredients and wheat flour is one example.

And to some preparations, one could give a different touch such as ‘Adukkuroti’, which is something relished by the Malays and it is in the form of a ‘rotti’ stuffed with mutton or chicken, but it can also be filled with mushrooms for the benefit of vegetarians, he said.

Emphasis should be laid on a healthy nation and it is the duty of the government to ensure that food stuffs injurious to health are not sold in the market.

If we have a healthy nation, the country’s GDP could be increased by 40 percent, said Dr. Publis Silva.

He condemned the pre-cooked meals available in the market as really injurious to health and added that if you regularly consume such food you are inviting a quick death.

Chef Dr. Publis Silva yesterday launched two coffee table books in English, titled ‘Authentic Sri Lankan Cuisine’ and ‘The Real Taste of Paradise’. The latter was the English translation of a book in Sinhala due to popular demand.

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