Chef Devan Rajkumar talks diversity, inspiration and wine

Angela Aiello of iYellow Wine Club is spending her summer chatting with some of Toronto's best chefs over a bottle of Aveleda Vinho Verde, a refreshing wine from Portugal that is light enough to pair with some of your favourite summer dishes.  iYellow Wine Club is a Chew Street favourite and we are so happy to share these food and wine conversations with you!

Angela's latest conversation in this series is with Toronto's own Chef Devan Rajkumar,  An early obsession with food and an unquenchable thirst for travelling allowed Chef Rajkumar to develop his palate. He shares his love for food with the world, hosting culinary workshops across Canada and abroad.  Does Chef Rajkumar look familiar? You may recognize him from his work as a guest expert on Cityline , his culinary pop up series Underground Chef Cartel, or his work The Food Dudes.  Chef Devan shares his favourite thing about Toronto's food scene, his inspiration from cooking across the globe, and a delicious scallop recipe to help you say goodbye to summer.


What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine?                                                                                                                 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 favourite 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! 
 
Who most inspires you in your cooking philosophy? 
 I can not pinpoint one individual person. I just recently returned from a 5 month world food tour where I travelled 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 hungrier than ever. 
 
What is the most challenging thing about being a chef? 
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 guest is what drives me, and gets me through the strenuous patches. 
 


What do you love most about the Toronto culinary scene? 
 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 and late night Sri Lankan kothu roti. This is just Monday! 
 
When you were thinking about a dish to pair with Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal what kind of ideas came to mind? 
When I first tasted it I got notes of pear, citrus, and it was surprisingly refreshing. I thought of the ocean, water, sunshine and seafood came to mind. Although it's from Portugal it brought me back to fond memories of my time along the Amalfi Coast earlier this year.  
 
Can you explain your dish and why it pairs with Aveleda? 
The pairing of the butter seared scallop, the parsnip puree and lightly pickled watermelon radish would be complimented most by a white wine which contains citrus notes and is refreshing. The Verde is a perfect match.