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Mum’s the word on culinary inspiration

With a Russian mum and Sri-Lankan dad, Nikita spent the first six years of life in Sri-Lanka before migrating to Australia.  From as far back as he can remember, food was the centre of family life; family occasions were plentiful, birthdays were a massive reason to pull the large family together into celebration.

Nikita‘My mum cooked all sorts of dishes as far back as I can remember and I learned a lot from watching her. I guess that’s where the roots of my passion for food comes from. Cooking has always been in my family, and I remember gatherings where aunties and sisters also congregated around food. I’ve been cooking myself professionally now for four years and am in the final year of a three year apprenticeship.’

When Nikita is not at TAFE, he works in an idyllic setting at Yabby Lake, a winery and restaurant with modern European flair on the Mornington Peninsula. Being in such a beautiful setting is inspiring, with everything and anything being literally on the doorstep.

‘Being a massive heath-nut, I’m passionate about spending time in the gym when I’m not in the kitchen, so putting the best ingredients into my body is something I value a great deal. Food has got to be good quality, and preferably organic if possible. I love foraging for food, visiting local farms, and having a relationship with where food comes from. One thing about living on the Peninsula, is that the seafood is fantastic too and you can access pretty much anything.’

‘As well as the environment I live in, I’m really fortunate to work with such great people, who are truly inspirational and encourage me daily to do things outside the box, and push through limitations. When I complete my apprenticeship, I want to stay with my Head Chef on the Peninsula as there are still things I can continue to learn from him.’

With a thirst for continual learning, and multicultural background, diversity is something that Nikita clearly values too and his story is set to continue with future aspirations to travel back to the land where he was born and started his journey.

‘Further down the track, I would love to return to Sri Lanka and run a large hotel.’