An early obsession with food and an unquenchable thirst for travel allowed Chef Devan Rajkumar to develop an acute nose and discerning palate.
He has initiated numerous culinary workshops for diverse audiences across Canada and abroad, competed in dozens of culinary competitions, and appeared on television.
Chef Devan Rajkumar is currently the Brand Ambassador for the critically acclaimed Toronto food empire The Food Dudes, a regular guest expert on City TV’s Cityline, a co-founder and host of the Underground Chef Cartel Battles, a Brand Ambassador and Chef for Blue Goose Pure Foods, A Brand Ambassador and Chef for Liberterre Meats and a Food Stylist with Viva Magazine.
He sat down with wine expert Angela Aiello to talk family memories, travel, his recipe for scallops and of course, wine.
What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine like Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal?
You may not believe me, but the first place that comes to mind is the backyard of my parent’s 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 one!
Who most inspires you in your cooking philosophy?
I can not pinpoint one person. I just recently returned from a five-month world food tour where I travelled to 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 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. And that’s 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, the sunshine and seafood came to mind. Although from Portugal it brought me back to fond memories of my time along the Amalfi Coast earlier this year.
What did you think about this wine/these wines? Any recommendations you would like to share with us?
Excellent wines that are easy to drink. Ideal for picnics, patios, paired best with lighter fare. I suddenly feel like an Aveleda Verde sangria!
Let’s talk about 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.
Pan Seared Scallops with Parsnip Puree & Pickled Watermelon Radish
(Prep Time: 20min / Cook Time: 30min / Yield: 4
12 x U-10 scallops, abductor muscle removed, patted dry
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
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 over 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.