The next big thing to eating food, is talking about it. But there are just some people who love food so much. What are the implications for chefs? This question has been frequently asked amongst all Pacific island countries in the region, as it is said that tourism is a driving tool for economic growth in most countries.
But what are tourists really after in the islands? Let us look into tourism through a chef’s perspective. Tourists in most cases travel to the islands to share the experience of island life; whereas others are simply for the taste of the island flavour.
“Tourists are not here for the island, they are here to eat the island” – celebrity chef, Colin Chung.
Moving up a notch for chefs
Having chefs as the next driving tool for economy developments can help boost the number of tourists visiting Pacific island countries. It could be a very interesting subject for discussion as tourists are more engaged with the taste of local cuisines. Nowadays, when they come to the islands to taste local products, compared to westernised food.
It would be a great opportunity for chefs to come up with new mouth watering local dishes that will leave tourists wanting for more and more. It was also said that tourists dig “locavore” food. Simply meaning the food used to prepare the dish is sourced within 100 miles, which is ideally up to 87% pure and fresh produce and the remaining as contemporary products.
Reaching out to the farmers
Despite the fact that tourists love local cuisines, chefs are faced with many challenges and difficulties. For this case, it is meeting the farmers. Chefs are very demanding people, and of course, conflicts are bound to happen between the two (chefs and farmers). This makes it very hard for chefs to get what he/she wants whilst affecting the farmer because the demands are not in-line with the products available. This is why they say communication is the key to success.
First and foremost, chefs should respect farmers, taking to consideration that they need the farmer for them to succeed on their part.
Chefs and farmers hand-in-hand
Chefs interacting with farmers will result in the chef getting what they want vice-versa. This bridged gap will open up many opportunities for chefs because now they have access to fresh local products straight from the farm. The chefs’ main objective is getting the taste of the islands with contemporary style, and utilising the best local produce available.
Thumbs up organisers
Linking chefs and farmers is a history in the making for this Agri-Tourism week. Thanks to multiple partners; South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP) School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, celebrity chefs (Colin Chung, Shailesh Naidu and Robert Oliver), and chefs from all around the region.
Inspiring opportunities are out there for all you chefs, after all “we are what we eat”!
Photo credit: Andrew Massey
Blogpost by Tom Vaha, Social Reporter for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week 2015.