We’re a few days shy of September, and while it isn’t the end of summer, it does signal a farewell of sorts to our favourite season. What better time to conclude our Summer Wine & Food Series then? For our final round, Wine Gal Angela Aiello talks to the Man About Town, Chef Devan Rajkumar. This entrepreneur has his hands in so many pots it’s almost insane that he had any time for us at all. But, more on that below.
Enjoy the warmth friends.
He’s a regular on Cityline; Ambassador/Chef for: The Food Dudes; Blue Goose Pure Foods; Liberterre Meats. Food Stylist for Viva Magazine and Chef Devan Rajkumar is co-founder and host of T.O’s favorite Underground Chef Co. Battles. I count myself lucky that this multi-talented, super-busy Chef had the time to sit down with us at all. Maybe it helped that it was over a bottle (or two) of Aveleda Vinho Verde?
Angela Aiello: What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine like Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal?
Chef Devan Rajkumar: You may not believe me, but the first place that comes to mind is the backyard of my parents house in Richmond Hill. This is my favorite place in the world as it’s a little forest. Along one side is a ravine where one can hear the water flowing, the other is a garden and the back is conservation land—you are completely enclosed by greenery. Sitting on the patio is the most peaceful place I know and on a beautiful summer day a glass of Aveleda Vinho is ideal, maybe even more than a glass!
AA: Who most inspires you in your cooking philosophy?
DR: I can not pinpoint one individual person. I just recently returned from a five-month world food tour where I traveled across India, Dubai, Europe and Peru working in kitchens along the way, filming culinary videos and eating non-stop. What inspires my cooking philosophy is what I learned on this trip – that I will never know everything about food. Travelling humbled me and inspired me in ways I could not imagine. I’m also hungrier than ever.
AA: What is the most challenging thing about being a chef?
DA: I will start by saying to be a chef you really have to love not only the food, but your passion must include delivering the best possible product to your customer/guest. The job is physically and mentally challenging. My desire to provide the best possible dish to my guests is what drives me and gets me through the strenuous patches.
AA: What do you love most about the Toronto culinary scene?
DA: The diversity! I can have a clear broth pho with saw leaf herb for breakfast, West Indian goat curry roti and a Peardrax for lunch, an Ethiopian coffee, fresh, hand made pasta for dinner, then a late night Sri Lankan kothu roti. This is just Monday!
AA: When you were thinking about a dish to pair with Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal what kind of ideas came to mind?
DA: When I first tasted it I got notes of pear and citrus, and it was surprisingly refreshing. I thought of the ocean, water, sunshine and of course seafood came to mind. Although from Portugal, it brought me back to fond memories of my time along the Amalfi Coast earlier this year.
AA: What did you think about this wine/these wines? Any recommendations you would like to share with us?
DA: Excellent wines that are easy to drink. Ideal for picnics, patios, paired best with lighter fare. I suddenly feel like an Avaleda Verde sangria!
AA: Can you explain your dish and why it pairs with Aveleda.
DA: The pairing of the butter seared scallop, the parsnip puree and lightly pickled watermelon radish would be complemented most with a refreshing white wine which contains citrus notes. The Verde is a perfect match.
Pan Seared Scallops with Parsnip Puree & Pickled Watermelon Radish
(Prep Time: 20min / Cook Time: 30min / Yield: 4)
1 cup parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp white pepper
Lightly Pickled Watermelon Radish:
1 watermelon radish, peeled and sliced thinly using a mandolin
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup water
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp salt
1/3 tsp white pepper
In a large saucepan combine vinegar, sugar, water, coriander seeds, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Add radish slices to pickling liquid ensuring they remain submerged, place in fridge overnight then remove from liquid and set aside until plating.
Bring one cup water and lemon juice to a boil, season with salt. Add radish for one minute then remove to an ice bath. Remove from ice bath, dry and set aside until necessary.
In a pot over medium heat bring all ingredients for parsnip puree to a boil for approximately 15 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium high heat and add vegetable oil. When the pan begins to smoke lightly season scallops with salt and pepper and lay down clockwise beginning from the top of the pan. Sear scallops for approximately 1 ½-2 minutes then flip, add butter and baste scallops with a small spoon for approximately one minute and turn off heat in the pan. Let scallops rest for 2-3 minutes in the pan before serving.