A three-day training for local chefs is expected to strengthen links between the tourism and agriculture sectors, says Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Permanent Secretary Shaheen Ali.
Jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture, the Contemporary Island Cuisine Training at Botaira Resort on Naviti Island, Yasawa was held from November 28 to 30.
A statement from the ministry said the training was attended by 17 resort chefs from nine resorts, which are members of the Yasawa Tourism Marketing Cooperative and the trainees learnt contemporary island menus and presentation techniques to promote the use of local produce in their hotel menus.
“This initiative is aimed at strengthening the link between the two major economic sectors of tourism and agriculture. Promoting the use of our local produce in the tourism sector and reducing the sectors reliance on imports.
“Through the use of more local produce in hotels, we are firstly giving visitors a Fijian experience and most importantly we are creating markets for local product and creating a sustainable livelihood for the farmers,” said Mr Ali.
He said in order to provide leverage to Fijian grown produce, both ministries were working in partnership to encourage more farmers into organic farming.
“We will also see early next year, the launch of a Fijian Organic logo as part of the overall Fijian Made brand,” said Mr Ali.
The training was provided by Pacific’s renowned chef Colin Chung who said he was delighted to be able to share his knowledge and skills with the local chefs.
“It was a pleasure to share my experiences, expertise and knowledge gained over many years with eager, young and seasoned chefs to create tasty and appealing contemporary cuisine from local grown, gathered or harvested produce from land and sea.
“I thank both the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture for their timely intervention to offer this kind of training to upgrade both the culinary skills and understanding of using our local produce in modern contemporary ways to enhance our food offerings to the visitor and local tourist markets, increase our use and demand for local produce and thereby improve local economies, whilst cutting down significantly on imports,” said Mr Chung.
Mr Chung was assisted by Pacific Island Resort consultant Greg Cornwall.
He said modern tourists were seeking cultural food experiences, wherever they travelled and prefered to stay in hotels and resorts where they could tour the market garden, learn how to cook and experience local cuisine.
“The three-day training has been extensive and one would certainly expect an enhancement in the resort’s menus. This should also see a reduction in imports and carbon footprint and moreover, Fiji’s farmers will benefit from the increased purchase from resorts” said Mr Cornwall.
Mr. Chung’s upcoming book ‘Kana Vinaka, Contemporary Fijian Cuisine‘ will be available in March 2017 and aims to bring this training concept and knowledge to the many facets of the industry. The book could also be used as a textbook or cookbook showcasing local produce and as a culinary reference tool.
First published: The Fiji Times Online Business – 13 December 2016