Success Stories 29 Jun 2017
Poor menus on most hospitality operations throughout the Pacific and the huge proportion of foods imported to the islands to feed tourists and locals alike has prompted chef Colin Chung to launch Kana Vinaka, a book about contemporary island cuisine.
Trained in hotel management, Colin has a wealth of experience in all aspects of hospitality and his career has taken him around the globe.
Moving to New Zealand from his homeland Hawaii in the 1980s, Colin settled in Raglan where he has run several cafe's and bars, while travelling frequently to the Pacific as a hospitality consultant.
Colin took on Kana Vinaka, a not-for-profit initiative in the hope of providing lasting development for the tourism and hospitality industry in Fiji, as well as, changing the way locals eat in their own country: healthy and sustainable, while lowering dependence on imports and promoting the growth and vibrancy of the economy.
Translated as "eat well or good food" in Fijian, Kana Vinaka has been a work in progress over the past five years, Colin says.
“I started thinking about it and started saving recipes and validated techniques whilst developing strategies, concepts and philosophies,” he explains.
While conducting training workshops for Pacific chefs throughout the region, he has been able to cement the integrity of the book, he adds.
Every time Colin travelled the region, he has been confronted by poor menus in hospitality operations, especially the small locally owned ones.
Approximately 80 percent of food is imported into the islands to feed tourists and locals alike; the high rate of non-communicable disease (NCD) in the islands from locals making bad choices with what they eat; and the lack of awareness of how to use the abundant local produce, except in traditional ways all added to Colin’s desire to write Kana Vinaka.
He chose to base the book in Fiji for several reasons, he adds.
“It was the right setting – it has lots of arable land and good resources: seafood, dairy, poultry, pork, beef, goats, good fish varieties, and natural and planted fruit and vegetables.
“Secondly, I have been visiting Fiji since 1974 and have made many friends, associates and connections there, so was natural to start this book in Fiji.”
Most of the recipes throughout Kana Vinaka are Colin’s - from either his many years of cooking world-wide, or developed as he has sought to use different local products in different and contemporary ways.
“Some recipes are as old as the hills and some just developed over the last year because they were needed for the book or in chef classes,” he says.
Often when in different localities like the Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa or the Marshall Islands, Colin he needs to develop different recipes as the local produce changes.
Identifying the market and then figuring out how to reach it effectively has the biggest challenge of creating Kana Vinaka, Colin says.
“We had three markets to target, so that was difficult - we wanted to reach the hospitality industry, the general public and particularly the housewives, and finally the local and visiting foodies.
“To be effective in our goals to change the way local people and the visitors eat, we also wanted to have the book serve as teaching tool or aid.
“It was difficult to manage, but I think we accomplished a lot of this.”
Now the book has been launched, Colin will continue promoting the book, using it to make changes in the way we eat, what we eat and how we eat.
Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Colin, to create awareness to Fiji’s bountiful produce and how it can be used in contemporary and appetising ways in producing local dishes. READ MORE