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On the Couch with Peter Kuruvita

Renowned chef and SBS TV personality Peter Kuruvita took a few precious moments out of the kitchen to chat about the evolution of his inspiring culinary career and why Tasmania is a must-visit foodie destination in Australia. 

How did you discover your passion for cooking and when did you decide to turn it into a career? 

The passion for cooking was continually around me but what really cemented in my mind is when I spent time with my grandmother in her old kitchen, it was a hive of activity, starting with a daily trip to the market, followed by the cooking, sorting and preparing of the fabulous and constantly changing produce. 

Nothing was done lightly, no meal was ever put on the table without the seasoning being checked and adjusted. It was an act of love, not an act of preparing a meal. 

The second came when I was 16, out of school and a bit lost, the amazing passion for food had long been replaced by anger, through the bullying and pressure of arriving in this country. My father told me I could leave school only if I had a job, so I had to ride with him every day until I decided on a career path. 

Nothing really appealed to me until, driving in our suburb two months after I had left school, my dad stopped the car outside a restaurant. He looked at me and said, ‘You like cooking, go and ask for a job,’ and the rest is history. 

Learning traditional recipes on a culinary trip to Sri Lanka with Peter Kuruvita |  <i>Peter Kuruvita</i>

What was it like moving to Australia from Sri Lanka as a young boy? 

1974 was a hard time for a brown boy to be in Australia, the culture shock was enormous. There were so many amazing modern things that blew me away, but there was also the bullying and bigotry. The lessons were hard and all of us knew we would have to be strong to get through it. The obvious benefits of being here and the opportunities that presented themselves, though at the time I did not recognise, were boundless. 

What is your favourite meal to cook at home for the family? 

We still have rice and curry weekly in our home, I go by the availability of produce, just like I did with my grandmother 40 years ago. 

Best Sri Lankan restaurants in Australia? 

In Sydney, it would be Rams takeaway in Homebush West and Melbourne has a few Cinnamons and the Elephant Corridor, but there are many more. 

You take travellers ‘behind the scenes’ on your My Sri Lanka tour with World Expeditions, what does this mean? 

You come and meet the people I met, have some real experiences with everyday Sri Lankans, and learn how to cook in their village-style. 

Your latest culinary tour is set in Tasmania, what do you love about its food scene?

Tasmania is world-renowned for the quality and variety of its seafood. Its truffles compete with France and Western Australia, but most of all it’s the passion and dedication of the small producers and growers that I love. 

Out of the best of everything Australia has to offer, more than half would be from Tassie. 

Enjoy Tasmania's delicious culinary highlights on Peter's upcoming food tour

>> RECIPE: Try Peter Kuruvita's Lobster with Truffle Sauce Crème

Lobster or mud crab? 

While I love a good mud crab, Tasmanian lobster is the finest in its class. It is exported internationally and highly regarded worldwide as the very best. High yield, sweet and tender, it is even more expensive than Maine lobster.  

What parts of Tasmania excite you most? 

Every stop has something totally different to offer, there is so much packed into such a small island. One amazing experience I’ll always remember is kayaking the bays of stunning Freycinet and pulling onto the beach in Honeymoon Bay for a surprise lunch, fit for royalty and prepared by one of Tasmania’s best chefs. 

What skills or experiences can people take away from your cooking demonstrations? How hands-on is it? 

My cooking demonstrations essentially prepare the meal for that evening, everyone chips in to assist if they like or they can sit back and take it all in.

I would say people learn how to prepare the produce and I throw in as many handy chef’s secrets as I can.

Join Peter Kuruvita on his next culinary tour >

Peter Kuruvita, TV chef Peter Kuruvita Interview

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