Interview: Gaushan de Silva on sustainable fine dining in the Maldives

In the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, Velaa Private Island takes exclusivity to the next level with facilities and service that go beyond traditional resorts. Overseeing its acclaimed signature restaurant Aragu is the award-winning chef Gaushan de Silva, whose passion for culinary arts and sustainable practices see him use only the finest organic produce and carefully selected ingredients from around the world.

Supper sat down with the chef to talk about his culinary roots, his approach to sustainability and his favourite Italian pasta dish.

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Where are you from?
was born and raised in Kandy, which is hailed as one of the top destinations in Sri Lanka and is also known for its cuisine – a sensory delight with an explosion of wonderful aromas and delicate flavours.

When did you first fall in love with cooking?
I wouldn’t say I fell in love; I was born with love and respect for food as that’s how my family educated me. Even as a child, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother, who taught me how to cook and helped me learn to use all five senses in the kitchen. That eventually led me to determine and follow my passions that are dearly close to my heart.

How would you describe your culinary style?
I am fascinated by the historical, the alluring classical soul foods of yore, so I spend time learning, studying, reimagining and reconstructing classic cuisine with a modern take. Classic European cuisine and Asian cuisine are two of the vast culinary repertoires that have influenced many of the dishes of my cooking.

Velaa Private Island

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?
Discovering the colours of refined cuisine and learning that sincere devotion, hard-working attitude, and passion are rewarded.

What is a mark of success for you?
I believe the true success of a person is measured when someone recognises you and you receive an overwhelming appreciation from the exceptional satisfaction of your clientele, that there are many things that you can do to make a difference, and the answer will be returned and rewarded to you with fulfilment, which is the major definition of success to me.

Do you have a favourite dish on the menu at Velaa Private Island?
I love the tuna egg yolk – a Maldivian contemporary take on sushi.

What is your approach to sustainability in your food?
I’ve sourced food locally as much as possible, to minimise the energy used in production, transport, and storage. I must support local fishermen and sustainable agriculture working on nearby islands in developing a fairer deal for communities.

What is your favourite dish, and who cooks it?
Hand-cut pasta with white alba truffle in Torino, Italy that a local old lady cooked for me!