Mag Events,Feature l by Tina Edward Gunawardhana l 20 Aug 2022     - 193

The Spicy Chef


Words: Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Making his mark on MasterChef Australia Dulan Hapuarachchi wowed the judges and audiences with a combination of Sri Lankan delights and his suave personality. However a catastrophic disaster with waffles saw him voted off the show well before his time. In an exclusive interview with Hi!! Magazine Dulan talks about his life changing experience as a MasterChef contestant.

 

Born in Sri Lanka’s bustling capital city of Colombo, Dulan Hapuarachchi   caused quite a stir when he appeared in the latest series of Australian MasterChef recently. Although he did not make it to the finals his cheeky demeanour and the fact that he is easy on the eye earned him a legion of fans around the world.  A financial entrepreneur by profession, Dulan’s road to appearing on MasterChef began during lockdown when he started cooking to satiate his food cravings.

Dulan is the youngest of three children and migrated with his family to Australia when he was only 11 years old. Hailing from a large family where his  mum was one of 11 children and his dad one of eight, Dulan reminisces the huge family gatherings replete with numerous cousins, aunts and uncles all milling round the dining table leaden with scrumptious authentic Sri Lankan cuisine.

One of his earliest culinary memories is spending time in the kitchen with his grandmother, peeling onions, tears streaming down his face and spending the weekends partaking in family feasts watching his parents and aunts cook a veritable smorgasbord of Sri Lankan delights.

Dulan confesses his food idols include Gordon Ramsay, Peter Kuruwita and MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo. For Dulan, savoury flavours takes precedence over sweet but by his own admission he does make a great tiramisu and crème caramel.

Despite having to leave the show during the early rounds, Dulan sees a future in the culinary industry.  His goal over the next two years  with the support of his wife Nadeera is to launch a café  in Melbourne which has Sri Lankan influenced flavours with great coffee and cocktails. He is also keen on doing pop-ups in his home city of Melbourne and to create lots of content for his social media. Another on his wish list is to open a cooking and hospitality school for the less fortunate in Sri Lanka.  Dulan dreams of one day cooking on the Sicilian coast of Italy, and admits to a broad palate and love of trying different cuisines.

When he’s not busy in the kitchen or playing with his children, Dulan enjoys working out, gardening and fishing. The father of two reveals his experience of being on the show and  plans for the next step of his culinary journey.

What was it that got you interested in food?

I developed an interest in food when I was about 5 years old.  I watched my parents and other family cook and saw how food brought people together. I remember peeling some onions for Achchi (grandma) and crying for hours – it’s a pleasant memory for me now. My sister was a professional chef as well so she definitely was an influence on me. Then my mother, wife and mother-in-law also got me interested in Sri Lankan cooking.

How did you decide to take that interest and pursue a competition style cooking show?

If it wasn’t for COVID and lockdowns
I wouldn’t have ever applied to MasterChef. I know I love cooking and I have forever but COVID lockdowns changed our lives completely and showed me that there’s more to life. Furthermore, Season 12 (Back to Win) influenced my decision too. 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is the Features Editor of Hi!! Magazine. She writes on a variety of topics which include travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also a journalist for the Daily Mirror Life. An intrepid traveller, Tina likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno or email her at tinajourno@gmail.com

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