Cooking with Tyler at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

Cooking with Tyler at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

Lisa Ray: rickshaw rider (Photo by Karon Liu) 

Serving Indian food to the Indian stars of a film about cooking—Dilip Mehta’s Cooking With Stella, to be precise—sounds like a challenge of Padma Lakshmi’s devising. Luckily for dinner-skipping attendees, Mildred Temple Kitchen’s chef Tyler Cunningham was up for it. The Liberty Village resto became a “Temple of Taste” for last night’s Mongrel Media soiree, the warmest and most savoury we’ve attended this week. Rose petals clothed every table, an elaborate rickshaw dazzled on the red carpet, and Lisa Ray held court in a violet sari, and yet the food—curry potato dumplings, succulent shrimp on naan—was the most beautiful thing there.

“My staff is mostly Sri Lankan, so I sat down with them and asked about their favourite foods,” Cunningham told us. “They really helped me come up with the menu. I wanted to do all the real Indian flavours, but in a subtle way.”

He pinched off a fragrant curry leaf; we chewed out its sharpness while he explained how he’d paired the ingredient with cumin, mustard seed and cilantro in a salsa-like fusion. We tasted it and died on the spot, half-wishing to be reincarnated as Mrs. Tyler Cunningham.

Still, we wondered: is it the real thing? Turning to Mehta, we asked how he liked the food. No words, but a full mouth was answer enough.