A lifetime achievement
From the first time Sriram stepped into his father’s kitchen, it was the beginning of a life-long passionate quest for knowledge of food, “I remember being fascinated by the smell and aromas which used to come from the kitchen – it was my first love”.
Chef Sriram was always inspired by the way his father used to work in his restaurant in India. He found it admirable to see that despite all the hard work and effort put in by his father and his staff, they all still managed to enjoy themselves with laughter always filling the kitchen.
Sriram gave up his law studies for his first love and in 1984 he joined the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in India. His father recognised his culinary talent from a very young age and gave him the responsibility of ‘working partner’ in the business, even though he was still young and in college. “It gave me the overall perspective of the restaurant. It was the best training I ever received.”
In 1989 Sriram joined the luxury hotel group Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces which includes many locations across India as well as prominent international hotels and resorts, including: the Maldives, US, UK, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Australia, Africa and the Middle East. His passion for food knowledge led to an opportunity in the kitchens of the Gateway Hotel, Bangalore and it was a mere two years before he became the executive chef, saying “It was here that I strengthened my thoughts and shaped my desire to uncover the potential of Southern Indian cuisine.”
He then conceived and opened the Karavali Restaurant, stating “The challenge was to make ethnic food without sacrificing too much in the recipes.” It was that dedication and spirit that gave Karavali its place in top 5 Restaurants in India in 1995 – as judged by The Statesman.
In 1996 GENTLEMAN – a national monthly - echoed the views of the Statesman and in 1997 Karavali was judged 'Best restaurant in South India' by Hotel and Food Service Magazine.
Then, in 1997, The Telegraph – a National daily newspaper - ranked him as one of the Top Five Chefs in India.
He was quoted as saying “I am quite confident in South-west Indian cuisine because of its lightness and multi dimensional flavours” which opened the doors to a new opportunity, when, in 1999, Sriram was invited to open Quilon in the heart of London.
The challenges London were many and different. The biggest was, perhaps, identifying how best to project this unique South-west coastal Indian cuisine to a new audience unfamiliar with the nuances of Indian cuisine. “To use the right technique and authentic ingredients from the recipe, without compromising the foundation of the cuisine was challenging.” As a result, Quilon uses only the freshest ingredients and has become the largest importer of South Indian spices in whole of the UK.
Quilon reflects Chef Sriram's progressive thinking but also remains connected to its South-west Indian roots. Signature dishes have included Black cod, Coconut with Asparagus and Snow peas, Seafood moilee – which sit comfortably side-by-side with more traditional South Indian Dishes such as Manglorean chicken, fish in banana leaf, Avial and Masala Dosa.
These examples of Chef Sriram’s career, hard work, passion and dedication has led Quilon to an array of awards and accolades, including:
2001 Winner of Best Indian restaurant Good Curry Guide Award.
2003 Nominated as one of the five best restaurants in Time Out Food Guide.
2004 Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.
2008 Awarded a prestigious Michelin Star, retained each year since.
Chef Sriram's vision about the food – like his views on everything else in the world – is progressive. He believes progression is logical and necessary in this world and true of every aspect of life. Therefore, Quilon’s menu never stands still and continues to be a living amalgamation of Ethnic and Progressive influence, as evidenced by signature dishes such as Black Cod, Asparagus and Mange Tout, and Lobster Butter Pepper.