Yaal Virindu 2020: A Jaffna culinary experience at Ramada Colombo

Thursday, 17 September 2020 00:51 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

From left: Ramada Colombo Sales Manager Pavithra Vidanagamage, Sales Manager Ramesh Vidanarachchi, Danu Innasithamby, Ramada Colombo General Manager Wasim Cader, My Sisters Kitchen Thushara Innasithamby, Strategic Planning and Development Director M. Shanthikumar, Food and Beverage Manager Rifath Mansoor, Director of Culinary Chef Philippe Wagenfuhrer, Senior Sous Chef Chef Dharmapriya, Marketing and PR Specialist Nahaziya Irshad and Sales Manager Prasanna Cooray at the YAAL VIRUNDU Jaffna food festival press launch - Pix by Ruwan Walpola 

My Sisters Kitchen Thushara Innasithamby (left) and Danu Innasithamby 

  • Flagship food promotion extravaganza for 19th consecutive year from 23 to 27 September

By Divya Thotawatte

Ramada Colombo General Manager Wasim Cader 
Ramada Colombo Culinary Director Chef Philippe Wagenfuhrer

Bringing the traditional flavours of the north into the spotlight, Ramada Colombo recently announced its yearly Jaffna food festival ‘Yaal Virindu’ which will be taking place for the 19th consecutive year in collaboration with My Sister’s Kitchen. 

The food festival will be held from 23 to 27 September from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Ramada Colombo and is priced at Rs. 2,750 per person. According to Ramada General Manager Wasim Cader, Thushara Innasithamby and Danu Innasithamby from My Sister’s Kitchen, who are originally from Jaffna, will work with the Ramada team, providing authentic and traditional recipes and flavours to the cuisine.  

Cader explained that Jaffna cuisine was an integral component of Sri Lanka’s culinary identity and Yaal Virindu, over the years, had brought significant exposure to Jaffna cuisine in Colombo. The hotel’s team is to focus on collecting spices directly from the north while purchasing fresh local produce to bring out the flavours of the north, he said. The buffet will include Nelli Crush, Odiyal Cool (prepared in a traditional manner by the pool) served with fried ash plantains, mutton bone soup, Suara Varai, Nandu Varuval, fried fish with mango pickle dip and an extensive variety of vegetarian, seafood and crab curries. 

Speaking on My Sister’s Kitchen and the dishes to be prepared for the food festival, Danu Innasithamby said: “We do all types of food, but Akka is well-known for her Jaffna food. During the last food festival, she cooked over 80 dishes and this year too, she expects to prepare a somewhat close amount.”

He noted that most traditional recipes that his sister was expected to prepare for Yaal Virindu had been their grandmother’s and that they had been passed down the family for generations. 

Ramada Sales Executive Nahaziya Irshad said, “Yaal Virindu is a long-established tradition that we have been following at this hotel for 18 years and during these trying times we have decided to go ahead with this food festival. We are one of the first hotels to have organised such an event and it has been a massive success throughout the years.” 

Traditional local music would be played during the food festival where the ambience would also create a traditional Jaffna feel, the organisers added. 

Ramada Colombo’s new Culinary Director Chef Philippe Wagenfuhrer was also introduced during the press briefing. Developing a passion for his career as a child, he had undergone a three-year apprenticeship in culinary studies and studied four years at the ‘Ecole Hotelier’ in France. 

He had been able to obtain a Master’s degree in Hospitality and Management before achieving his first Executive Sous Chef position by 24 years of age, and had gotten his first Michelin Star at the Georgian Room at Cameron House in Scotland. For the past three years he had been working for a resort of Vakkaru and Accor Property in Maldives.  Wagenfuhrer stated: “I am French-born and grew up in South Africa and I have travelled in Europe, Africa and Asia where I have gained many ideas and much experience which I hope to share with Ramada’s food and beverage team and try to bring the product of Ramada to a higher level.”