Origin Culinary Arts & Hospitality Show Vanuatu 2013
Robert, Heather and I are here at the invite of the Vanuatu Chefs association- HQ Port Vila. It’s the Origin Culinary Arts & Hospitality Show 2013 and we have turned up mid competition. It’s like stepping into the cuisine powerhouse of the country and you can’t help but feel that something very special is going on.
As you enter the event, which is on the waterfront beside Chantilly’s, there is a 20-seat cinema set up which screens the Vanuatu episode of Real Pasifik throughout the day. The crowd swells as the show progresses. Families and friends come down to see the Real Pasifik chefs and food heroes work their magic on screen.
Beside the cinema in a large makeshift tent are fully kitted out work-stations where the best of the country’s chefs are battling it out for the prized trophies. There are some familiar faces, in fact all the chefs we worked with on the show are taking real leadership in this Salon Culinaire. The MC is referring to them as movie stars and I can’t help but thinking that they are stars – championing local produce, farmers and artisanal food.
What strikes me the most is that all the chefs in the competition have phenomenal levels of support from their workplaces and the dynamic Vanuatu Chefs Association. It’s tangible, not just in their confidence but in the fact that they are being cheered by an audience full of executive chefs and resort management.
Across the categories it’s clear the innovation is here. You can see the months of preparation appearing on plate after plate of stunning works of culinary art. I’m drawn towards the category “Island Kakae to a restaurant standard.” Competitors must use 70% of ingredients that are grown or produced in Vanuatu.
Robert Oliver, one of the judges of this event said,
“I’m in awe of the creativity they are displaying within culture and how all of them made dishes that are recognisably ni-Van. Chefs often feel they have to add something from outside. All the dishes told a story, with great counterpoints, contrasts, textures and flavours.”
The winner of this category was Lina Singo of the Holiday Inn Resort for her Pan Fried Poulet topped with Mele Nangai Nut and rolled Prawns. It was the only dish in the competition to be awarded Gold medal with Distinction – a full 100/100.
This achievement is a testament to the fact that ni-Van cuisine is on the world stage and it is the young chefs who are paving a road forward to get it front and centre on the menus for tourists.
Blog by Anna Marbrook
Photos by Heather Lee and Anna Marbrook
Special thanks to Sarah Kymbrekos, the Vanuatu Chefs Association, NZ High Commission Vanuatu and Rob Smillie.