(This story and photo originally appeared in the Sept. 2005 issue of After 6 magazine)
By John Geary
Romy Prasad hates bad food.
“I can’t stand poorly prepared, mediocre food,” says the executive chef for the Savory Coast restaurant. “That pushes me to constantly strive for excellence.”
His most recent strides took him from the position of executive chef to executive chef and co-owner. After eight enjoyable years at CinCin, he wanted to explore some new ideas.
“There comes a time in your life when you have to try your own thing. The food here is a little edgier, but at the same time Old World. … we offer items on the menu like tripe, baccala, pork cheeks but we also include a good mix of West Coast influences.”
While Prasad strives to produce different and unique flavour combinations, he does not have much use for recipes.
“I’ve created the food ideas myself, I didn’t read a recipe book to get them,” he says. “The best dishes don’t come out of recipe books.”
Finding the right combinations to create unique dishes can be a painstaking process and requires attention to the most minute of details. Take, for example, the house-smoked pork cheeks.
“We’ve just now figured out how much to smoke them, how much brine to use, to give them the best flavour,” he says.
While the flavour combinations may be unique, the dishes are not that complex. Prasad likes to keep things relatively simple. He uses a wood-fired oven to cook, whether it’s a roasted halibut with clams and oven-dried tomatoes, or a free-range herb-stuffed chicken breast.
Although he likes to keep the preparation simple and uncomplicated, he insists on using the freshest local ingredients possible. Not only does he believe in using local ingredients, he also feels the key to his success as a chef depends on how well local people support his efforts.
“We want the local clients. If the locals don’t believe in your restaurant, you’ll always be on the fringe. If they believe in what you’re doing, you’ll always be well supported.
“They’re the hardest clientele to please, but they’re also the best clientele to have.”
As for a signature dish, one of Prasad’s current favourites is the Penne Amatraciana: house smoked pork cheeks, parsley, tomatoes, garlic, habaneras, and of course, pasta.
He doesn’t have a favourite dish to cook, but then to a chef like Prasad, any dish is fun to prepare.
“Just the art of cooking is a very cool thing on its own.”