Chef Charles Disanayke, who just last week won the coveted 2012 Food Experiments’ Grand Prize, partnered with Michelin-starred Manhattan Indian restaurant Devi last night to prepare a "pop-up" dinner party on the restaurant’s mezzanine for 18 lucky guests.
The chef, who was born in Sri Lanka but spent many years traveling the globe and developing an internationally influenced palate, quit his day job as a marketing consultant several years ago and began catering boutique events for high-end clients. That morphed into invitation-only underground supper clubs in apartments (including his own), and the event last night was his first time hosting it in a restaurant.
The 8-year-old Devi was the perfect location for the meal: it has a great reputation, an accommodating staff (Disanayke was given a corner of the kitchen and two assistants for the evening), and is known for its ability to flawlessly update classic Indian dishes for a fine-dining setting, which tied in with Disanakye's roster of wildly inventive dishes that incorporated Old World flavors.
The meal began with his signature creamy roasted pumpkin soup, and was followed by shrimp crusted in cashews, pistachios, and wasabi peas. Next came his trademark curried lasagna (which recently won The Brooklyn Curry Experiment), followed by banana leaf-wrapped slow-braised cumin-spiced lamb curry with saffron rice, shrimp sambal, and curried eggplant. For dessert, there were almond, cashew, and pecan beignets filled with ginger butterscotch sauce, and a homemade bourbon ice cream that really packed a punch.
Chef Disanayke has plans to continue with these pop-up dinner parties in 2013, and is also in talks to open a restaurant of his own. We’d recommend trying his cooking before it becomes impossible to book a table!
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