Inside Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Kitchen

26th January 2017

Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sophie Davidson

The pioneering bar owner on an amazing green tea with toasted rice, some crazy-looking champagne glasses and two cocktail books that inspire him


Rare Tea Company genmaicha » 
Henrietta Lovell, founder of Rare Tea Co, and Ryan are good friends, and he swears by her genmaicha (green tea with toasted brown rice). “I’ve always loved her teas. It’s weird, I still have this love of builders’ tea, but it’s something I drink as a conduit to nostalgia rather than something I’d class as a real ingredient [laughs]. So when I met Henrietta, we basically ended up sharing this love for mad teas. One of these ones I used to have in New York was genmaicha, but I couldn’t find a good one here and Henrietta said the same thing. You either get people who focus on the rice side of it and don’t have a great green tea, or vice versa. When she got hold of this one she said you’ll love this. It’s got a kind of salinity to it – it’s not one of those fishy-style green teas. There’s a lot more to it than the usual roasted rice – the second water-on [infusion] is really lovely.”

Laphroaig 21 » 
Ryan is a big fan of the peaty Islay whisky and produces a very special half-bottle of Laphroaig 21 to go with our dessert. “Old Laphroaig is like the Holy Grail. Amazing. Seriously, it’s incredible. *Massive* tropical fruits. So this is a bottle of the Laphroaig 21. These now go for thousands of pounds. Very sought-after. They don’t release a lot of 21 – this was done for the Friends of Laphroaig and sold in half-bottles. Those ethereal fruity notes are what make it really special.”

Ryan uses this fruit, which is predominantly native to New Zealand, in his dessert alongside cream, meringue and Laphroaig 21 whisky, which he thinks matches the fruit very well. “It’s a really divisive one,” he says. “Both [Laphroaig and feijoa] have a slightly medicinal note, they both taste a bit like TCP.”



Zalto glassware »
Our attention is drawn by the crazy-looking champagne flutes Ryan uses for one of the cocktails. They belong to his sister but he likes them too. “Zalto is a really great Danish glassware maker. My sister and I share a love of nice plates and nice glassware. We have very similar taste. It’s kind of weird.”

Turk saucepan »
As our lunch draws to a close, we suddenly notice these very cool frying pans in Natasha’s kitchen.

Kin knife » 
“This is a beautiful, really stunning knife. It has a Japanese ironwood handle, and the samurai steel. It’s got a lovely weight to it. But it doesn’t really get used. Japanese steel has that annoying thing where you have to spend a lot of time treating it. After you cut certain stuff you’re meant to clean it in a certain way, when you sharpen it you’ve got to sharpen it a certain way. It becomes a difficult thing to use so unfortunately this doesn’t get used very much.”



Ryan admits that he rarely uses cookbooks – or indeed bar books – by rote, instead drawing inspiration from flavour pairings and foundations laid down in classic tomes. Relying on reference over recipe, he mentions the following:

The Complete Nose-to-Tail, Fergus Henderson » 
“This was the cookbook that resonated the most when I was starting out – it was gifted to me when I was about 20. I hadn’t been eating pigs ears and trotters and all that stuff, so it was a whole new world to me.”

The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock » 
“Historic bar books like this and David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks have definitely had an impact, but more in terms of ethos. It’s not like I sat down and studied them. I would take inspiration from them, but I wouldn’t really follow recipes. For example, seeing orange and lavender in a dessert, then seeing if you can bring a floral and a citrus note together in a drink. More of the inspiration over the literal.”


Posted 26th January 2017

In Things


Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sophie Davidson

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