Niue's first food festival kicks off this week
Niue kicks off inaugural food festival with experts and top chefs visiting.
Some of the region's food and beverage experts, writers and top chefs are in Niue this week as the island kicks off its first food festival.
Kai Niue is part of the government strategy to boost tourism.
As Koro Vaka'uta reports the initiative also aims to provide locals with inspiration.
Travel and cuisine writer Alexia Santamaria and Auckland University of Technology's Lisa Sadaraka will give advice to food enthusiasts and business owners alike. Celebrity chefs attending include the award winning author and TV host Robert Oliver; Samoan Michael Meredith and Tongan Alex Kaihea. Felicity Bollen from Niue's Chamber of Commerce is co-ordinating the event. She says it was important to bring people with knowledge and links to the Pacific.
FELICITY BOLLEN: I just thought it would be wonderful if we could bring these three incredibly talented but quite different chefs to Niue for them to be able to share with us how we could contemporise our local food and make better use of our local food. This is part of the bigger food security question the Pacific as a region is facing around reducing our import substitutions.
Ms Bollen says it the chefs have great stories to tell.
FELICITY BOLLEN: I had read the backstory of Alex's in particular about how he'd risen from the dishwasher to the owner of the restaurant and of course Michael Meredith from Meredith's. Such a successful and wonderful story and also Robert Oliver, who although maybe not by blood a Pacific Islander, he certainly is in his heart and his soul and he grew up there.
Mr Meredith says a food festival is the type of event that fits the Pacific due to food being a cultural and social focal point for many in the region.
MICHAEL MEREDITH: You look at Samoa where I'm from, it's like every Sunday it's tonai day. Everything stops. You put like two hours, three hours away in the morning to prepare an umu and then you eat it and then everybody goes to sleep. It's always been a family gathering.
The Auckland-based chef is hoping the festival will also help change mindsets about the Pacific.
MICHAEL MEREDITH: We've always had that image of bad european food cooked on resorts when you stay in the Pacific so it's a nice way to go there and use some the local stuff that's growing there.
Mr Meredith is looking forward to working with those fresh ingredients and says he wants to encourage people to move towards healthier habits.
MICHAEL MEREDITH: We've just eaten to fill ourselves and now people are more aware of what they eat so there's a little more of a health consciousness. Obviously the mentality has shifted a bit. Obviously with the introduction of a lot of processed food into the diet, people are really looking back and trying to reflect on what the real island diet was. Mostly seafood and a few things from the land.
Pacific Islands Trade and Invest is helping support Kai Niue.
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