Hi, I am Sowmiya Venkatesan.
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, a triathlete now, his appetite for an adventure on a plate is what binds us a couple. It is a simple arrangement - I cook, he eats. My son is a connoisseur. A teenager, proud to be taller than me, plays a significant role in ensuring I cook visually appealing and nutritious meals.
I practise Sahaja Yoga, a scientifically proven method of meditation created by HH Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi in 1970 that is based on awakening the kundalini to achieve your self-realisation. It is a way of life where you strive to achieve a balanced living with your spiritual evolution and understanding of the science.
As a MasterChef Singapore finalist (Finished 6th), I would like to influence the food scene in Singapore and beyond. I believe Singapore as a society that is fast becoming a conscious nation. A nation at the cusp of a change. I see smaller movements to #Zerowaste, create a #sustainablefuture, that is #betterfortheplanet. The RedDot is showing an #appetitetochange.
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 to create a balanced food system.
I created Kechil Kitchen, a Singapore enterprise focussed on making #meatless and #plantbased options interesting and help people think natural, eat better and be happy.
I do not propagate any specific diet as people should eat what is good for their bodies but definitely want to play a part in creating a balanced food system where there are interesting options available for people who want or feel the need to eat meatlessly.
A chef by default, storyteller by design, 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.
I collaborate with restaurants in Singapore and narrate food stories using my menus organised as a pop-up event. In the pop-up, the aim is to transport the diner culinarily through a food story with a narrative beyond just the plated dish. In my menus, I try to champion locally grown, sustainable and biodiverse ingredients.
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.