Executive Chef Profile: Eraj Jayawickreme
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Fondly known by his regulars as “E”, Eraj Jayawickreme was bought up by his parents with a passion for food and commitment to hard work. As a child, he was enthralled by the TV cooking shows of the early 90’s, quite content to spend hours watching them instead of cartoons. He constantly hovered in his parent’s kitchen, begging them for opportunities to cook even though he was usually only allowed to use a kitchen skillet. His love of all things related to food continued to grow and by the age of thirteen Eraj had already mapped out his future career as a chef.
Eraj’s first real foray into the culinary world was at fifteen years old, working as a third cook at the King Edward hotel into Toronto. Here, he learned the skills that he built his cooking foundation on. Over the past 20 years Eraj has worked in some of the most renowned restaurants and hotels in Toronto and has had the opportunity to open and run his own restaurant. Eraj’s culinary accomplishments are plentiful. He holds his Red Seal, and is working towards a Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) designation. He has also completed a program in Advanced Culinary Preparation at George Brown College in Toronto. Eraj has catered for major events such as the Much Music Video Awards, the Toronto International Film Festival parties, and the Toronto Jazz Festival.
Eraj is now excited to take over as Executive Chef for the Fairmont Winnipeg. One of his main philosophies is to source his product locally and support upcoming farmers and food organizations. He believes in investing in the community and local producers so that the bounty of Manitoba can be shared with everybody. The hotel’s kitchen currently features local products such as pork from Habourside Farms, a farm committed to sustainable agriculture, artisan cheese from Bothwell Cheese, golden honey from the Manitoba Honey Cooperative and fresh pasta from Natures Farms who are passionate about ecological sustainability.
Eraj understand that the first few years are the hardest to establish a farm or artisan business. During this crucial time, Eraj shows his support by finding ways to include their product on the restaurant menus so we can spread the product by word of mouth. At the end of the day, Eraj puts all his love into his cooking so it only makes sense that he uses premium products that others have put all their love and effort into as well.
Moving forward, Eraj is looking to creating an environment in the restaurant that appeals not only to the hotel guests, but also to the residents of Winnipeg. His focus is on clean, simple, and delicious food.