Kusalvin Samarakoon came to Melbourne to study nanotechnology but instead he dared to follow a newfound passion that’s leading him into a career in hospitality.
At just 17 he found some part-time work while studying for his Bachelor of Science and that time in the kitchen changed his life’s course.
‘When I was at RMIT I started working in the city for a restaurant and while I was doing that I got into the whole concept of cooking,’ he says.
‘I had some awesome teachers there, and I thought if I enjoyed cookery this much I would like to learn the basics. I decided I would really like to pursue this as a passion.’
He was nearly two years into his BSc and his parents found his switch a little hard to understand, but Kusalvin says: ‘It was a tough choice to make but at the end of it I was weighing up the options and I didn’t really see myself in that industry in the future, and that is not what I think my personality is.
‘Also I came here pretty young and when you’re young you don’t really know what you want to do.
‘I was so interested in cooking and even now I feel like I put more into it naturally than actually having to do it, I don’t have to force myself to study I just do it.’
Kusalvin says he’s had great support from his chef colleagues at cafes and restaurants around the city and from his Melbourne Polytechnic teachers.
He achieved his Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, then the Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and is about to finish the Diploma of Hospitality Management.
He’s not done studying yet though, with his sights set on the Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management and then the Bachelor of Hospitality Management.
‘As far as hospitality industry goes it’s pretty obvious that as a chef there are many ways you can go and I feel like I wanted a broad idea of what the industry was as a whole and not just the kitchen perspective,’ he says.
‘After the bachelor it’s possible for me to go into the hotel perspective of the culinary industry and that’s completely different to the restaurant side. Right now it’s evolving so fast, it’s branching out.’
So where does he see himself when all the study is done? ‘If all goes well I’d like to be running my own kitchen, I think that’s a doable goal.’
When this chef cooks at home, he likes to experiment and has even thought about the connections between his science background and his food passion.
‘I was really interested in the concept of molecular gastronomy, and when I was doing the change I was thinking it’s possible down the road,’ Kusalvin says.
‘I’m still a nerd I guess at heart and in reality we are reaching a crisis point where our population on earth won’t be able to support our food intake and therefore we have to look for alternative sources of food.
‘I think it will be purely protein based or things that humans need to survive, it might not be in the next 30 years but it will definitely be starting during my lifetime and I would love to research into new and upcoming access to food, like we might have to switch to insect-based diets.
‘I would love to do research into that as well, I’m interested in the whole thing and I would love to leave a mark on the world and what better way than to find a way for sustenance?’
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