“Contemporary European cuisine covers a range of culinary styles that are constantly evolving. French cuisine may be regarded as the natural base and benchmark but Italian cuisine has made its way into everyone's homes via pizzas and pastas while Spain is no less prominent through its many ingredients like olive oil and chilli peppers,” he explains.
Mastering the intricate art of French cooking is considered by many to be the pinnacle of culinary achievement. “Not strictly true,” says Selvaraj. “It can be done with a few practiced cooking methods, signature ingredients, and a dash of panache. Contemporary European food emphasises quality ingredients, crisply cooked vegetables and fruit based sauces as opposed to flour and cream sauces.”
But what really gets his creative juices flowing is a style of cooking called sous vide which is the art of cooking vacuum – sealed food in temperature-controlled water. “This style turns meat into meltingly tender morsels, keeps fish moist and flaky and shellfish succulent, no matter how long it’s been on the stove. Fruit and vegetables benefit, too, retaining colour and flavour,” he says. Sous vide cooking is so successful because the temperature simply never rises high enough to cause the chemical reactions which overcooking typically causes.
And for food lovers, who wish to create an European dining experience at home, Selvaraj has some advice. “You don’t always have to go to an expensive restaurant. A simple roast chicken seasoned lightly with butter, salt, pepper and herbs is one of the easiest things to make. Add a crusty baguette, sparkling water, and a fresh fruit and cheese platter to the table and voila! you can have an elegant yet simple European meal that you and your family can enjoy.”
But the real secret of being a good chef according to Selvaraj is, “No matter how many cooking techniques you learn, you must choose fresh ingredients carefully, prepare and present them elegantly and most importantly sit down to eat with good company and a joyful attitude.”