Image Source: Daily Mail
An eleven year old girl did Sri Lanka proud when she clinched Australia’s Junior Master Chef title 2020 on Monday night. Little Georgia of Lankan burgher heritage put Sri Lankan cuisine into the limelight when she enthralled Australian TV audiences (and now global online viewers) with exciting dishes that her ‘Sri Lankan nanna’ had taught her. Georgia, with her two bunny-like front teeth, sweet smile and innocent candour not only won over the show’s judges but the entire watching audience. Not only has she excellent cooking skills but also a sense of sparkling innovation. In the final dish of the competition when the presentation of her dessert combination did not come up to her expectations – and even made her cry – she promptly came up with a made-up name for her dish – ‘tropical mess’. Yet the combination of tropical tastes in the dish appealed to the taste buds – and opinions of the judges. Besides, this ‘Miss Personality’ showed her true friendly Sri Lankan character to the world. Her engagement, chatter and showmanship were years ahead of her physical age.
For the grand final her main meal consisted of yellow rice, brinjal pickle, white cadju curry, and spicy pork along with raita and pappadam – very Sri Lankan indeed. Her dessert was a combination of sweets including roasted coconut ice cream. In the semi-final round Georgia served up pol roti (coconut flat bread as she called it) with potato white curry and dry potato curry – which she told the judges were “very sentimental” to her because her nanna made them for her when she was very little. She hoped the hot spiciness would not put the judges off!
Competing against two very accomplished young lads who served up very traditional ‘fine-dining’ dishes, Georgia was able to demonstrate that the flavours and colours of traditional Sri Lankan food can compare with the best culinary offerings from any part of the planet. Above all what eleven year old Georgia has done with her little hands is give a significant boost to traditional Sri Lankan dishes.
One of the most popular restaurants in London is one named ‘Hoppers’. The first restaurant of this chain was opened in Soho about 5 years ago. There were queues to enter the place. A few years ago a second larger ‘Hoppers’ was opened in Marylebone – once again filled to capacity with a global clientele. Recently a third larger one was opened in Kings Cross, London. These fine dining restaurants all serve traditional Sri Lankan dishes – hoppers (obviously), Kottu roti, biriyani, Jaffna crab curry, pol sambol, kata sambol etc. However despite its appeal to the culinary tastebuds of global fine-diners, this booming chain was started and owned by an Indian gujarati family who recognised the potential of Sri Lankan cuisine – not a Sri Lankan!
What little Georgia has done for Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan cuisine on an Australian – and international stage is to provide a significant boost to what all of our community recognises as one of the best aspects of our heritage – Sri Lankan food.
Georgia, the whole Sri Lankan community in Australia is very proud of you and we are certain that one day you will rise to even greater heights doing what you love best – preparing the best food from the recipes that your nana taught you. Sri Lanka owes you much!