Heritance Ahungalle: Recognising the true spices of Sri Lanka

Thursday, 29 November 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Melissa Perera

With Patrick Tailer as the opening chef, the Heritance kicked started its journey 31 years ago. Reaching many milestones, Heritance was able to wave the flag of its motherland in Germany recently.

In order to recognise and introduce these chefs, the management of Heritance Ahungalla had a press briefing on Monday (26) with the main coordination by the Heritance Ahungalla General Manager Refhan N. Razeen.

The ceremony began with the opening of the first-ever ‘Culinary Museum’ in Sri Lanka. The museum is situated in the kitchen of Heritance Ahungalla to bring in more meaning for their new project.

“The real meaning of a culinary kitchen is brought out only when it is in a kitchen,” stated Refhan. The hotel is proud to present the museum to the guests and let them view it anytime of the day, no matter how busy they are.

Guests at the event included Aitken Spence Hotels Vice President F&B Gemunu Goonewardene, Guild of Sri Lanka Chefs Chef Madhawa Weerabaddana, Aitken Spence Hotels Vice President Operation B.H.R. Sariffo’deen, Aitken Spence Hotels Consultant Chef Lalith Gunasekara, Aitken Spence Hotels Skill Development Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe, and Aitken Spence Hotels Executive Chef Kasun Premachandra.



“At the end of the day you should achieve your goal no matter how much you fall. I have left the kitchen 28 times in my hotel career. But here I am standing right in front of you, all you need is to respect each and every chef in the kitchen,” said Amal Nanayakkara. “I am proud that Sri Lanka was able to wave its flag high by a product of ours. We can do wonders in Asia with chefs behind this uniform in our kitchen.”

After being hit by the tsunami of December 2004, the hotel was reopened as Heritance Ahungalla in 2006. With the efforts of all the chefs, it now boasts a kitchen featuring the highest number of award-winning chefs in Sri Lanka.

“The only reason why I chose this as my career is because I wanted to show that South Asian food is not only made with spices, but with layers of love and feeling,” said Chef Vikum, an Indian visiting chef from Toronto, who graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.

“The young chefs should respect the South Asian spices; it is only then you could bring together a great cuisine. I have been the best ambassador of my country and culture. Wherever I go I always say that Sri Lanka has its unique cuisines. Cuisines are like democracy, they need to be changed always,” he added.


Competing at the Olympics 2012

The team that took part in the Olympic Culinary 2012 was directed by Dimuthu Kumarasinghe. “I am not a perfect person; therefore, even though I have achieved so many things in this career, I am yet learning so many things in life. I learn from the trainee chef who works under me,” he humbly told Daily FT.

Aitken Spence Consultant Chef Lalith Gunasekara, Dimuthu Kumarasinghe, Refhan N. Razeen, Amal Nanayakkara and Chef Vikum then launched the Human Capital of the hotel at the Human Capital Corridor.

The ceremony kick-started with the playing of the anthems of Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Ahungalla. The team consisting of nine chefs took part in the Culinary Olympics 2012 held at Messe Erfurt Germany.

Chef Ushantha Shrimal Kulatunga from Jetwing Light house – who is also a member of the National Pastry Team, Chef Manjula Wikrama from Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Chef Chamika Perera from Hilton Colombo, Chef Kasun Premachandra from Heritance Ahungalla, and Chef Sanjeewa Niroshan from Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya brought glory and honour by winning the first Culinary Olympic Gold medal for Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka was formally known for its tea plantations and then for cricket, but now our motherland will be known for her spices and great culinary,” said Refhan, welcoming the gathering.

“Change is one thing that never changes,” said Aitkin Spence Hotels Vice President Operations B.H.R. Sariffo’deen. One of the key points that the guests embarked was never forget the first footings of your career.

The management of Aitken Spence Hotels has worked hard to give due respect for the team members, by giving them an opportunity to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa in December. “Heritage consists of a royal team; therefore simply saying thank you isn’t enough to thank you for the countless milestones you have carved,” said Amal Nanayakkara.

This is the 23rd Culinary Olympic held, with a participation of 56 countries and 26,000 chefs around the word. Sri Lanka was able to be the eighth of the world’s best culinary amongst 56 countries, with a team of nine members.

“In 2016 for the next Culinary Olympics I am hoping to take a team of 40 members and make Sri Lanka the world’s best in the field of culinary,” Dimuthu told the Daily FT. “Even though I won many gold medals, I yet learn a lot because the journey ahead of us is very long. We should always think of ourselves one step lower; then we can achieve many things in life,” he added.

Next year the crew of Heritance Ahungalla is planning to break the Guinness World record by preparing the world’s largest dessert. The hotel currently has a rate of 2.5 million tourists arriving every year. A facilitation ceremony was then held under Dimuthu’s guidance in order to thank the main pillars who helped them in achieving this task.

Pix by Daminda Harsha Perera