After Schwartz’s, a Sri Lankan seduces Torontonians and the Michelin guide

Behind the counter of his restaurant in Toronto’s Scarborough district, Sumith Fernando cuts thin slices of smoked beef brisket with the agility of a great chef. His restaurant, SumiLiciousonly opened in 2018, but its reputation for its smoked meat sandwiches and poutine is second to none.

In September, the Michelin guide awarded it a Bib Gourmand, a distinction given to restaurants that serve high-quality cuisine at affordable prices.

Since then, the enthusiasm for Mr. Fernando’s cuisine has continued to grow. Every day, as soon as it opens, customers follow one another and sometimes have to line up on the sidewalk to have the chance to taste Mr. Fernando’s smoked meat.

Their smoked meat is fantasticlaunches Mike Babineau, who eats at SumiLicious several times a month. Lanka ait appris à fumer la viande pour ensuite la vendre ici est vraiment quelque chose d’unique dans ce quartier”,”text”:”Qu’une personne du SriLanka ait appris à fumer la viande pour ensuite la vendre ici est vraiment quelque chose d’unique dans ce quartier”}}”>That a person from Sri Lanka learned to smoke the meat and then sell it here is really something unique in this neighborhoodhe said.

Sumith Fernando and his wife Shalika de Fonseka recently welcomed their first child.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Grant Linton

Take classes at Schwartz’s

It’s at the famous Montreal restaurant Schwartz’s that Sumith Fernando discovered smoked meat. For nearly 16 years, he studied in the mythical establishment on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, which offered him his first job in Canada.

Every day I saw people biting into their sandwich and nodding their heads it was so good. […] I told myself that one day I was going to do the samesays the cook.

A piece of meat and a knife on the restaurant counter.

Sumith Fernando smokes his meat for ten hours before serving it.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Grant Linton

Mr. Fernando says he perfected his technique and recipe for years in his backyard and using a smoker purchased from Home Depotbefore going into business.

He kept trying, even when I got mad at him for turning the house upside down. At first it wasn’t very good, so I didn’t believe in him right away, but he never gave up.says his wife Shalika de Fonseka.

: “Vas-y, ça va marcher””,”text”:”Quand il a réussi à obtenir le goût parfait, je lui ai dit: “Vas-y, ça va marcher””}}”>When he managed to get the perfect taste, I told him: “Go ahead, it will work”she adds.

A risky bet

The two lovers then left their jobs and sold their house in Quebec to settle in Toronto.

Mr. Fernando still remembers the anguish he felt when taking the plunge.

It was a big risk. After moving, if something hadn’t ended well, we would have been left with nothing.he says.

Customers wait to place their order at the SumiLicious restaurant.

The SumiLicious restaurant recently received the Bib Gourmand distinction from the Michelin Guide.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Andréane Williams

Fonseka’s Shalika jokingly admits that it was a gamble to serve, in the heart of an Asian community, a charcuterie specialty introduced by Jewish immigrants and cooked by Sri Lankans.

He chose this location where many Asians live. Everyone was surprised and at first we had no Asian customers. Our clients came from other communities and from quite a distance. We were worried. Did we choose the right place?she wonders.

The beginnings of the restaurant were difficult. For the first six months, Sumith Fernando worked to death seven days a week.

I was going to die. I said to my wife, “I can’t take it anymore. I have to find another job.” »

A quote from Sumith Fernando, co-owner, SumiLicious

After a year, he says, however, word of mouth did its job.

After Michelin

Since September, Sumith Fernando and Shalika de Fonseka have been savoring their newfound notoriety.

Two smoked meat poutines.

The SumiLicious restaurant is also known for its smoked meat poutine.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Grant Linton

The couple now have plans to expand and Mr. Fernando hopes to introduce new dishes, although the pressure is great for the small family who have just welcomed their first child.

I think smoking meat is the most difficult thing in catering. It is very difficult to control the process. If you steam it for too long, you can’t use it. […] If the taste isn’t perfect, I won’t serve itexplains the father who says he draws his motivation from the satisfaction of his customers.

When asked what made him fall in love with smoked meat, he simply replies: I love the taste!

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