CHEF SRIJITH GOPINATHAN
It’s been over four years since I first tasted Chef Sri’s cooking yet the memory of that first meal lingers in my mind as potently as spices permeating the air in an Indian kitchen. It was at Campton Place inside the Taj Hotel in San Francisco where I first became acquainted with Chef Sri and his unique brand of cuisine. It was love at first taste.
I have been privileged to travel many regions of the world and in those travels, eat at many of the world’s best restaurants from fine dining Michelin establishments to dusty street stalls with plastic chairs and rickety tables with questionably clean utensils. With the thousands of eateries I have been to, I had never in my life tasted anything like the dishes Chef Sri brought out in an endless parade of exquisite artistry and soulfulness. The best way to classify his cuisine is to describe it as Californian meets elevated Indian meets French. His dishes offer glimpses of Paul Bocuse, Daniel Boulud, Ferran Adria and grandmas on the streets of Goa, Kerala and Mumbai.
More striking than his outstanding cuisine though is his self-deprecating humility, easy laughter and kind gaze. He is a chef who could and should be as world famous as the aforementioned celebrated chefs, easily able to out-chef everyone in the entire Food Network and Cooking Channel lineups and easily able to out-sell any cookbook author should he choose to undertake such endeavors yet he chooses a quiet, low-key path. Most hours of most days he can be found toiling in the Campton Place kitchen, creating new dishes to add to this Michelin restaurant’s always evolving and boundary-breaking menu. And let the record show that it was under his leadership that Campton Place first earned its Michelin star.
He speaks of food with the exuberance of an innocent child and the passion of a man who once literally risked his life for his craft. Talk to him about other famous chefs and he has no unkind words to say about any of his colleagues. Tell him that he is as great as other chefs and he smiles graciously shaking his head in genuine self deprecation. It is not that he is a chef without confidence but a man who is constantly striving for greater heights of achievements and in never believing he can quite reach that state of perfection, he doesn’t believe in his own greatness.
If you haven’t been to Campton Place to experience Chef Sri’s cuisine, I strongly urge you to do so. Here is my recent interview with him where we tackle everything from his childhood years to how he created his signature Spice Pot dish to the moment he almost died in the devastating 2004 tsunami.
Mark my words, Chef Srijith Gopinathan is already one of the world’s greatest chefs but in the coming years, he will actually be recognized worldwide.
Listen to My Interview with Chef Sri:
Chef Srijith Gopinathan hails from Southern India, where he grew up cooking with his mother and grandmother. Beginning his career with luxury hotels in India, Srijith began realizing his potential to harmonize flavors and classical European cooking with the memories of his youth.
On the path to establishing his interpretation of food, he found himself at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY and in the kitchens of Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones at the famed Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Oxford England (a two Michelin Star restaurant). Establishing himself at the helm of a kitchen on the exotic islands of the Maldives, Srijith commanded menus with daily seasonal produce procured daily from across the world.
Executive Chef at the Taj Campton Place since February 2008, Srijith has been wowing diners and winning the affection of long time Taj Campton Place patrons.