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Empowering Sri Lanka’s youth – through Supreme Chef

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Aimed at empowering Sri Lanka’s youth through skills development and showcasing signature dishes from emerging tourism destinations, Supreme Chef is a new reality Television Show taking the country by storm with young women and men competing to become Sri Lanka’s first Supreme Chef.

Creatively crafted as an alluring means of engagement, Sri Lanka’s new reality TV platform ‘Supreme Chef’ has attracted over 600 applicants from rural Sri Lanka who are eager to take their chance at becoming Sri Lanka’s first Supreme Chef, with the ambition of making it big in the growing Sri Lankan tourism sector. 

The program, designed by the Skills for Inclusive Growth program (S4IG), is an initiative of the Australian Government’s aid program and implemented jointly with the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training. 

S4IG is an integrated skills development program supporting inclusive employment opportunities along the tourism value chain in Trincomalee, Ampara, Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa. S4IG support sustainable job creation, increased incomes and business growth for marginalised and disadvantaged individuals, particularly women and those with special needs. 

The majority of contestants are women who did not have any prior tertiary education or vocational skills. The TV competition component became the ideal platform to generate interest in cooking, recruit interest for skills training and promote signature dishes and locations to support the tourism industry in the Eastern Province and Polonnaruwa.

The program started airing on channels ITN and Vasantham TV from 1 December, it will be telecast every Saturday 5:30 p.m. weekly until it concludes in March next year, after which the next season will start. Judges say that selecting contestants for the first edition was extremely challenging. Flyers calling for auditions and leaflets were distributed in all communities which culminated in an unanticipated number. 

Out of the 600 entrants 20 were chosen from each of the four districts. These 80 were whittled down to 20 over three days of intensive cookery auditions. The final 20 were then invited to Colombo for three weeks of Basic Kitchen Skills Training followed by recording the competition in a studio. 

On behalf of S4IG, TRAc International, a specialist Training Provider, managed the project and were responsible for organising the contestants, designing and delivering the audition process, competition format, to the TV show format with the production company Rala Creations, organising special guests as well as delivering the brand-new Basic Kitchen Skills course to the chosen contestants. The course will be rolled out across the country in the coming months.

TRAc enlisted the help of the Chef’s Guild of Sri Lanka to add top quality oversight of the cookery standards in the training and in the show. The Chef’s Guild is headed by Chef Gerard Mendis who took part in the auditions and a later episode where he trained and judged contestants on their chocolate making skills. He was ably assisted by Chef Ben Fernando and Chef Wimal Wimalagoonaratna. Chef Ben and Chef Wimal not only judged several of the TV episodes but also mentored the contestants at several stages of their training – making sure their cooking was up to scratch and also improving their general kitchen skills. 

The attractiveness of the show is enhanced by the inclusion of many celebrities throughout the series. Viewers will have the opportunity to see contestants exchanging ideas with Sri Lanka’s well known and much-loved Chef Publis Silva. They will also see Australia’s award-winning chef, author and restaurateur Peter Kuruvita spending time with the contestants perfecting their skills. Be prepared for world famous cricket stars, acclaimed singers, actors and last but not least – the contestants themselves taking part in song and dance!

Sri Lanka’s veteran dramatist Wasantha Wittachchi trained the contestants on remaining calm during difficult situations and developing a healthy mindset which will enable them to take on challenges in a good spirit. Supreme Chef has already garnered interest from hospitality providers who are keen on employing the trainees, most of whom hail from rural communities but who have proved that they too have the mettle to perform exceptionally well despite trying circumstances. 

Supreme Chef is not only a reality cooking show, it is a holistic approach to recruiting, training and placing the right people in the right jobs. It is the dream of everyone involved that the show acts as catalyst for improving the prospects of individuals, communities and industries in Sri Lanka. 

For more information please contact; David Ablett, Team Leader, Skills for Inclusive Growth, 

05, Rosairo lane, Batticaloa, +94 (0) 65 2229296 Website: https://inclusivegrowth.com.lk/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inclusivegrowthLK/  

E mail: enquiries@inclusivegrowth.com.lk

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