USP Cultivates Pacific Culinary Training - School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM)

USP Cultivates Pacific Culinary Training

The School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, represented by Dr Dawn Gibson and Mr Greg Cornwall, assisted the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), as part of its Pacific Regional Capacity Building Programme funded by the European Union, in running the Pacific Culinary Training Workshop, which ran in the last week of August at the Fiji National University and Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.  

Eighteen participants from eleven of the eighteen SPTO member nations were able to learn how to better utilise their local food and beverage produce in restaurant menus. SPTO engaged three of the Pacific’s top chefs, Lance Seeto of Castaway Island Resort, Shailesh Naidu, President of the Fiji Chefs Association and Executive Chef at Outrigger on the Lagoon, and Colin Chung of Hawaii, an international food and beverage consultant. They conducted theoretical and practical classes to the participants. On the final day of the event, the guest chefs and the Pacific island participants worked in teams and produced a first class Pacific Cuisine Buffet dinner enjoyed by many at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.  

Greg Cornwall explains the purpose of the workshop: ‘This workshop really helped to strengthen the knowledge, cooking standards and competencies of trainers from culinary institutions and qualified chefs working in small and medium sized enterprises’. Greg also emphasised that the key objective of this workshop was to use local food resources in menus. This emphasis forms part of a wider concern promoting ‘farm to table’ principles and practices in the hotel and restaurant industries in the region, which are considered to be of paramount importance for small islands states through encouraging stronger economic linkages between agriculture and the tourism and hospitality industries. The encouragement of the use of local food resources in restaurant menus can also help to foster innovation and creativity in food preparation, and strengthen ties with local communities who supply the necessary resources. 

The workshop also produced two other important outcomes: (1) The development of Pacific culinary contacts, and (2) The development of a training toolkit that can be used for future cookery training.

SPTO will be developing a Facebook page for chefs and farmers to discuss their needs and ideas and to also link them to relevant government ministries and non-governmental organisations engaged in developing agriculture and tourism within the Pacific region. A similar workshop will also be delivered in Samoa from 10th-14th November and will also include local farmers.

Dr. Dawn Gibson stated: ‘It was important to improve linkages between local farmers and the tourism industry by encouraging the development of partnerships with fit-for-purpose long-term supply contracts based on the needs of local hotels, resorts, restaurants and caterers. The promotion of local produce and development of interest in Pacific Island cuisine by international tourists, following the international success of Robert Oliver’s cookbooks Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific and Me’a Samoa winners of the Best Cookbook in the World 2010 and 2013, respectively, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and Pacific cooking shows such as Mai Kana, Real Pasifik, and Taste of Paradise, has been phenomenal. This interest in food as part of a more authentic cultural tourism experience is being conveyed to local chefs and farmers through training workshops such as this. It also has other socio-economic and environmental impacts related to import substitution, poverty alleviation through increased employment opportunities and entrepreneurship, and a reduced carbon footprint.’


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