Eraj Jayawickreme is the Fairmont Palliser’s executive chef and food and beverage manager. His responsibility includes the Hawthorn Dining Room and Bar.
What makes the Hawthorn unique in the Calgary marketplace?
Jayawickreme: Hawthorn is special as we highlight the amazing producers, artisans and farmers in this province. It is our core philosophy to ensure that we use the restaurant as a platform to show the world that thoughtful collaborations and initiatives can really propel Calgary as truly a world class food town. We have taken it upon ourselves to be that restaurant.
We are a community hub taking pride on giving back and being involved as much as possible, be it our ODB beer initiatives or just a place where all Calgarians feel welcome and at home.
Tell me a little bit about your background, how and why you became a chef?
Jayawickreme: Full bio available here https://www.erajjay.com.
Do you think the taste in food has changed in recent years in Calgary?
Jayawickreme: Yes, we are more open to more flavours and cultural foods than ever before. We see a huge global influence in menus across the city and our diners are expecting more access to a greater variety of tastes and sensations when they dine out.
Do you have a favourite food you like to cook?
Jayawickreme: I love to cook clean and simple food. Using great ingredients paired with good technique yields the best results no matter what you cook. I don’t believe that Instagram likes defines a dish; it’s all about taste and how it makes the diner feel
Take for example the cinnamon toast crunch crepe cake we have in Hawthorn. When you taste it, it takes you right back to when you were a kid watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. This is what all dishes should do – guide you to a fond memory.
What’s the key to success for a restaurant in Calgary as we see closures on almost a daily basis?
Jayawickreme: The key to success is continuous improvement, being one per cent better than the day before. Evolution is a necessity in our business, be it amazing service, great food or beverages.
We believe that a great restaurant not only delivers an exceptional product but is a cornerstone in the community that is actively involved in many community events and initiatives.
Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.