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Wednesday, 03 August 2016

Chefs For Development: The Role of Chefs in Linking Agriculture to Tourism in The South Pacific

The coastal and inland fisheries, tropical climate and fertile soils of South Pacific nations support the production of fresh ingredients that are healthy, nutritious and vitamin rich. Although traditional Pacific cuisine based on these fresh local ingredients is alive and well in the homes of Pacific Islanders, much of the food served in the tourism industry is imported and fails to deliver an authentic South Pacific cuisine experience to visitors. Many Pacific tourism menus are based on Western-style dishes which require the importation of significant amounts of food from overseas (estimated to comprise up to 80-90% of food consumed in some tourism operations for example). Some menus do offer ‘Pacific food’. For the most part this cuisine is often inauthentic and reflects what has come to be expected as Pacific Island ‘tourism food’ at themed island-night events, and is more often than not a mere parody of traditional foods. This is a lost opportunity for both the countries of the South Pacific and the visitors they host [...] Food, cuisine and food traditions are among the most foundational elements of culture. As the Prime Minister of Samoa reflected, “Food is the gateway into all cultures. For Samoa, our [traditional] food expresses our intimate relationship with the land, the sea and our ancestors”. Significantly, chefs can play an important role in creating demand for and reinforcing the importance of local cuisine as a cultural tourism product.

By Robert Oliver and Dr Tracy Berno