This August, LT presents a delicious food story. Many a palate can become jaded in this small town and no less was the case for The Gourmand, Sri Lanka’s only anonymous food critic – the most cantankerous and disagreeable of contributors. We threw him in at the deep end researching this cover story and asked him to nominate Sri Lanka’s culinary rising stars. He was at a loss!

Like many of us living in the city, The Gourmand has stuck to his regular haunts and experienced strange definitions of fusion, and standard consistency issues whenever he would try to venture away from his favourites. At LT, we generally decline food review requests (that we don’t initiate) because we dont publish negative reviews and it is often quite obvious what short cuts the chef or management has taken. We will be told “This is a very popular dish” and who are we to argue? Talent, originality and fresh flavours are not easy to deliver in commercialised kitchens. In Colombo, only a few restaurants last the test of time and they do so for one reason – the food must always be good enough to keep coming back for.

We called in a panel of experts for advice and set LT’s investigative journalists loose on finding the best young (to the industry) talent around. The results of our combined research have been staggering. LT had problems reducing the scope of this issue, and even now after much deliberation and downsizing, although we have our Top 10 Hot Cooks and 6 just as exciting Ones To Watch, we have by no means exhausted the talent pool. We have not included hotel chefs, because they have training and resources, we have largely ignored the professionals and chosen instead the daring, passionate, learn as-you-go success stories of our emerging food culture.

As you pursue our mouth watering cover story on this modern, progressive dining culture in Sri Lanka, please keep in mind our selection criteria of Freshness, Flavour, Concept and Consistency that give these Hot Cooks their wings. Everyone has a bad day in the kitchen, but this food story is about recognising distinct flavour profiles and empowering the people behind them who have largely yet to hit the mainstream. That’s when their problems will really start. But for the moment, let’s just celebrate the great food out there and the talent behind it.

Let’s eat.