Seven years ago I was working in a restaurant kitchen in New Zealand for the sake of paying rent.
But in time I began to fall in love with cooking. I found that making people happy with my cooking became truly motivational for me.
The smiles on the customer faces and compliments are the constant reminders why I do what do and love what I do. But the true crème de la crème is cooking for my own family at home for a happy household.
Food is a necessity in life, but I find great food has a way of releasing the negativity in you, it creates happiness and a sense of satisfaction. It even makes your grumpy husband or wife happy after a hard day’s work!
There’s a total of nine in our humble household, including my wife Mihimana and two young boys Christian and Mana-arii, my sister in-law with her partner and one year old, my baby sis-in law and papa.
My boys love their rice and fish, and we’re one of the few families that are blessed with the freshest fish thanks to our Papa Junior who is a master fisherman in the Cook Islands.
It is commonly said that chefs never cook at home, and from experience I can say that is often true, especially for those who work split shifts or primarily in the evening.
For me, it is merely just a matter of having the time to cook for your family and I believe that all chefs would cook at home if they could.
This was a major factor for why I left the all-day dining restaurants behind, as I was missing out on valuable family time particularly with my kids – as we know all too well how fast they grow.
Here’s one of my favourite dishes I'd like to share for you to keep your relationship happy. It is healthy and fun to make.
It is stuffed chicken breast with rukau and swiss cheese – and I like to have mine with snake beans, rice and coleslaw.
I’m pretty sure my wife loves my cooking … she enjoyed this dish so much she had to pick at mine too!
Stuffed chicken breast with rukau and swiss cheese
Whole chicken breast
2 cups of rukau or spinach
1 cup coconut cream
1/2 white onion
2 cloves of garlic
40g swiss cheese
Salt and pepper
1 Make sure you have equipment needed for dish like chopping board, chopping knife, frying pan, small pot, wooden spoon, tongs etc
2 Chop garlic and dice onions then fry in small pot till golden brown then add your spinach, add 1/4 cup of warm water then mix together till spinach is cooked well then add coconut cream, add salt and pepper and taste for perfection then set a side to cool down.
3 Next step is trim skin or fat off chicken breast then cut in half, you will then have two breast. One for you and one for your wife or husband.
4 Grab a thin blade knife or a steak knife to put a 2 inch size slit in your chicken breast and 3 inches deep for your stuffing
5 Pre-heat your oven at 200°C
6 Then cut your cheese to a pinky size or small enough to fit in your chicken, slowly put your block of cheese in then add spinach in what ever space is left in your chicken breast. Save leftover spinach for later
7 Put your frying pan on a medium heat, in 2 mins add oil to your pan or butter for flavour and colour then season your chicken breast on both sides then fry both sides till golden brown.
8 Once you have caramelized your chicken, use your tong to remove the chicken from the pan to your oven tray and into the oven for 10mins.
9 After 10 minutes remove chicken from oven tray onto another side plate and let your chicken rest for four minutes, then cut in half and watch the cheese melt on your plate along with creamy spinach running all over your selected starch or any sides you decide to have it with.