Meet the National Chef of the Year 2016 finalists: Lahiru 'Larry' Jayasekara

The Staff Canteen

On Tuesday, October 6 a new National Chef of the Year 2016 will be crowned. We take a closer look at this year's finalists hoping to produce winning dishes at the final at The Restaurant Show, which will impress the judging panel - Larry Jayasekara.

 Larry’s dad is a chef in Sri Lanka, and gave him his first job washing pots. He came to the UK fourteen years ago, and spent two years at Torbay cooking college before going to London to work at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant. He has been sous chef at Gordon Ramsay Holding for just a few months but before that he was the executive chef for the Manor at Weston-on-the-Green, sous chef at Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, senior sous chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and spent two years at the Waterside Inn in Bray.

larry jayasekara
Larry Jayasekara

Are you nervous about performing live at The Restaurant Show?

Not really, it’s just another day in another kitchen. The only difference is that here I have fifteen, twenty guys bringing me stuff from the pass to put onto the plate, whereas in the competition you’re on your own and you just need to get it done to the standard you want really.

What do you put into your food in terms of personality?

I come from Sri Lanka which is by the sea, so I like to use a lot more food that comes from the sea, I think it brings a lot more flavour to a dish. That’s how I would say my personality comes through, I wouldn’t try to bring a lot of spices to food at the level we’re cooking at, I don’t think having the harshest spices really suits what we’re doing.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

Gary Jonesat Le Manoir, and Clare Smyth, who I’ve worked with for a very long time and know very well, those are the two people I always look up to. Remembering their advice at any time doesn’t just make you a better cook, it makes you a better person as well, in the way that you deal with things and how you look at food.

Larry Jayasekara
Larry Jayasekara

What would you like to achieve in the future?

Ideally, earning myself a Michelin star somewhere, but you’d probably hear that from most chefs! Obviously it’s not that simple to have your own restaurant but I’d just like to get that recognition really.

What would winning National Chef of the Year mean to you?

It would be a great achievement. Since I first came here I thought about entering the competition every year but I just kept saying to myself that I wasn’t good enough. Now I’m in the final, with a good chance of winning, but I had to make it happen for myself. You’re cooking in front of some of the best chefs in the country, it’s a privilege just to cook for them. Winning would be unbelievable.

>>> Read about the other National Chef of the Year finalists here

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th September 2015

Meet the National Chef of the Year 2016 finalists: Lahiru 'Larry' Jayasekara