Hi, I am Sowmiya Venkatesan. Living with my husband and son in Singapore. A self-taught cook, I love to play with flavour, texture combinations and use spices to give dishes a depth of character. My approach is to be out-of-box, discover new ingredients, pair them with the traditional and plate to serve an experience. I cherish feeding people and happiest taking in the sight of their clean plates.
Growing up I never learnt how to cook. Watching my grandmother and my mother cook in the kitchen are my very first food memories. Before I got married, I only knew how to boil an egg, make tea and instant noodles. In short, survival cooking.
My interest in food was kindled by street food, watching the street vendors cook with skill and speed using an array of spices on their makeshift stalls. Being a vast country, the cuisine offered a lot to learn from. There are different dishes, methods of cooking based on the locally grown produce, culture, people and customs.
Like any beginner, I sourced books, TV shows to channelise my dormant inner cook. I would call my grandmother on kitchen conundrums and take audio lessons. On my wedding day, my mother gifted me a ledger book full of handwritten recipes with lots of tips. The bell curve from Nigella, Jamie Oliver and Ottolenghi, has been somewhat a straight line. These became the founding guide to work my way up from my husband's stomach to his heart.
Marrying a foodie changed my life and my relationship with food. My husband is a "huge" influence on me. Nicknamed Sumo, his appetite for an adventure on a plate is what binds us a couple. It is a simple arrangement - I cook, he eats. Now a Singapore triathlete, he sticks to a low-carb diet and has lost 30 kilos in the recent few years.
My son is a connoisseur. A just turned teenager, proud to be taller than me, plays a significant role in ensuring I cook visually appealing and nutritious meals. He struggles with texture aversions and cannot deal with gravies, gooey congees, milk or anything that is texturally runny.
I am an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. My husband and son are not vegetarians. Therefore I have to carefully plan meals to include low-carb, vegetarian and a teenage-friendly balanced diet all in one meal. I believe that while we eat healthily, it is paramount that food=happiness, therefore I do encourage some cheat meals, some comfort food once in a while.
Over the last few years, I have seen a spike in vegetarianism, veganism. As a MasterChef Singapore finalist (Finished 6th), I would like to influence the food scene in Singapore and beyond.
Many restaurants are opening up to the notion of offering truly-inspiring dishes that are plant-based, meat-less. Consumers, diners and home cooks are also opening up to being adventurous and environment-friendly in their choice of food and diets. I want to ride the wave and play a role in it. I created Kechil Kitchen, a Singapore enterprise focussed on making meat-less and plant-based options interesting and helps people think fresh, eat better and be happy.
An enterprise that is driven by my passion. A passion not just to feed people but to plate a story. A Chef story of origins, flavours, ingredients, processes that have a narration beyond just the meal.
As a Chef, I am always looking to make a difference in the way people "think, eat and make food". My philosophy on food is simple. It should be fun, tasty and balanced. Balance is key. A good plate should offer a balance in texture, flavour and colour. A feast for the senses that is a food journey where I can transport you culinarily and take you through a food story that has meaning beyond just the plated dish.
Hope to see you in one such food journey. Thank you for listening to my story.
Sending you lots of love and best wishes.
Don't forget to smile.