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Friday, 5 July 2013

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The Czar of HIGH TEA


Sky Lounge

The hotel has not reached even a half year and it’s already jam packed with many events, weddings and promotions of all kinds. The Kingsbury Hotel was buzzing with people last Friday and the High Tea was in full swing with people coming to chill out, enjoy the new dishes, surprise their friends for their birthday and all in all to have a good time.

With this busy hour, I got the chance to get the Executive Chef Kithsiri de Silva out of the kitchen and to have a little chit chat with him about his journey at the new hotel.

“The hotel is booming. We have got many positive feedbacks from the people. We have got many coming into the Harbour Court and its having a good improvement. Then we got the Ocean (seafood restaurant) and the Sky Lounge (rooftop bar) which is moving up fast. At the Harbour Court, we do changes every time and we don’t keep buffets at one level, which is what makes the hotel has regular guests. From layout to the cuisine (we have our own seasoning and identity), everything offered is new. For us, our competitor is ourselves. We compete with ourselves to do better every day”, Chef Kithsiri stated.

“We have come with a new F&B Promotion plan and right now for High Tea we are doing a sandwich promotion (a sandwich different from the usual club sandwiches you get). Every month we have a different promotion and for July we will start a Turkish promotion and then move on to an ‘All you can Eat’ Sushi promotion. Plans are also on the cards to have grill/BBQ nights by the poolside and other events.

The latest chill out spot in the town is their very own Sky Lounge located on the rooftop. This new chic place gives one magnificent view of the harbor on the right and the Galle Face Green and Colombo’s rush hour view on the left. The best time would be five minutes before sunset (my personal suggestion). Chef added that they serve a ‘bites’ menu, something not too heavy and not too light as well. Great place to unwind after work or on a Friday night before heading out to the ‘real night life’.

Moving on from the hotel, I traced back to the roots of our executive chef and he said it all began when he left school and joined the hotel school. “I was doing a management course and after six months I got the chance to work in Bahrain in 1985. I worked there for three and half years and then went to Dubai Hilton to Al Ain Intercontinental and then came back to Bahrain. I went to Dubai again for an opening and became the Sous Chef.

Again came to Bahrain and then went to Kuwait for 10 years. From there went to England Hilton (2009) and then went to Paris and worked at Fauchon and then flew to Turkey to work at Divan Ankara then Erbil Divan and then came straight down to Sri Lanka just in time for the opening of Kingsbury. I have opened 4 Five Star hotels along with this.

Wow, now that’s a lot of places to be and well it sure has taken him 27 years to come back and settle down in his motherland with his wife and children who were born in Bahrain and Kuwait.

French has been a favourite cuisine of mine and that’s what I follow

“Working at Kingsbury is very enjoyable. Comparing this to other countries, our Sri Lankans are very talented and easy to teach them. I come in the morning and I go in the night. You are very much respected and recognized here. I worked really hard and work is never easy at a brand new hotel and also this hotel is not a brand new hotel, it’s a hotel that got a refurbishment and basically ‘new things’ had to be added and kept that way. There are 185 staff members in the kitchen with me and I treat them all equally. The newcomers in Sri Lanka are bit tough to work with as unlike those days (coming out of the hotel school), without getting a proper training they want to straight to higher position. It took me 21 years to become a Sous Chef and this is something they don’t understand here.

Speaking of the management, Chef Kithsiri added that it is quite nice and they have a vision of what they want to do. He wanted to give a special thanks to his Chairman Mohan Pandithage and mentioned The Director Operations Dayal Fernando who is driving the team forward big time and has given them a freedom and free hand to produce what they want.

He also wished to thank Dhammika Perera, the person behind this concept and who wants to bring in more big to Sri Lanka and bring it to the caliber of the Ritz Carlton level.

I really had a wonderful time, catching up with chef and if you ever are dining at any of the restaurants – Harbour Court, the Ocean Restaurant


Work life

Divan Erbil – Kurdistan Executive Chef/ Executive com Member 2011- 2012

Safir Hotel & Residences –

Fintas - Executive Chef 2009 – 2011 Crowne Plaza (International Hotels & Resorts), Kuwait – Chef de Cuisine (Feb 1999 to Feb 2005), Executive Sous Chef (Feb 2005 to June 2008)

Forte Grand Diplomat, Bahrain - Senior Sous Chef, Feb 1996 to Feb 1998 Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza Hotel, (Bass Hotels & Resorts) Dubai, UAE - Sous Chef, April 1994 to Feb 1996

Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza Hotel, (Bass Hotels & Resorts), Kuwait - ChefCarde Manager, Feb1992 to April 1994 Crowne Plaza, (Bass Hotels & Resorts), Bahrain – Chef Garde Manager, May1990 to April 1994

Hilton International, Colombo Sri Lanka - Demi Chef De Partie, Oct 1989 to April 1990

Regency Intercontinental, Bahrain – Commis II, Nov1984 to Oct 1989

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