Starting this past Monday, 10 top chefs from around the South Pacific: Cook Islands, Samoa, Niue, Tonga, Solomons, Kiribati, Vanuatu and 10 chefs and chef tutors from Fiji were introduced and trained in the use of local produce in creating contemporary island cuisine by myself, Shailesh Naidu, Executive Chef at the OutRigger Hotel & head of the Fiji Chefs Association, and Robert oliver, celebrity chef and famous cookbook author.
We started the week after the grand opening and speeches with me taking them on a field trip around the Nadi and Lautoka area: visiting Farm Boy, a fruit and vegetable wholesaler and processor; the Lautoka markets to see and where I could tell them about the many uses of the abundant fruit and veges on sale in the open market(for many had not seen or used); Fiji Meats, where we had local beef and pork sides broken down by their butchers, as I identified and explained how to cook and use them;, as well as see sausages & bacon made and smoked with a very grand tasting of their product line to finish up; and finally the Nadi Herb Farm, where they saw a great number of fresh herbs, baby greens and lettuces being grown and distributed to the hospitality industry.
On the second day I lectured in the morning on the philosophy, concept and techniques of creating contemporary island cuisine, showing many examples of the work and art with a lot of discussion in between. This was followed by an exciting afternoon of demonstrating the uses of the local grown Hearts of Palm, and other root veges and products used in modern ways instead of the traditional. The chefs then had opportunity to create a few dishes with the products we had just discussed with the ways I had just demonstrated. A tasty treat was had by all at the end of the day.
The following day while the Chefs went off to a Buyers/Sellers Mart at the Sofitel, where they had 10-15 minutes each with farmers, growers, producers and manufacturers to discuss their requirements and to learn about each seller's products....I had the pleasure of using a class of first year training chefs at FNU Nadi to create a totally local lunch box for the chefs and the farmers-60 in total, then about 10 different canapes for a cocktail reception of 120 conference attendees that evening. It was a hectic day, but very rewarding for the trainee chefs and I totally enjoyed them. Thursday was Chef Shailesh's day, followed by a wine tasting and we culminate on Friday with a full day of prep with us 3 chefs to produce a grand Pacific Cuisine buffet for 120 invited industry guests,