Mom’s Kitchen, by Te’a Crocombe
Te’a Crocombe has taken her personal experience of cooking and creating dishes in her mother’s kitchen, to create new own small business.
Crocombe was inspired by her mother Anna, whose family is from the islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora.
“I’ve grown up doing everything in my mum’s kitchen like cooking, sewing and everything else,” she said.
“Her kitchen is where I learnt how to make all the food I enjoyed eating when I was in Tahiti and Bora Bora visiting my grandparents.”
The idea of starting the business came about due to unforeseen circumstances. Crocombe had been living in New Zealand for two years, when the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the world.
In May, she received a late night phone call from her father Sam on Rarotonga to tell her Cook Islands were to close their borders. This forced her to rethink her decision of staying on in Auckland
Crocombe’s partner Patrick Ama and her mother were visiting at the time. “I decided then I’m going back home with them.”
After a quick phone call to her boss (who was very understanding) the three of them packed up.
“It was panicky, we were like three soldiers packing everything, we didn’t sleep that night, running around the house packing,” she laughs. “The next day we were on the plane and back home.”
She thinks back, and says, “we were very lucky to make that flight home”.
Safely home on a sandy white beach, Crocombe had to think up ideas to earn an income.
She took note that the market was full of sashimi platters, and changed her focus to sauces.
“There were no tourists on the island, fishermen were still out fishing and fish prices had dropped so I thought I’ll just make my Tahitian-styled sashimi sauce and go from there.
“Families can buy their fish to eat and purchase the sauces from me.”
Her popular sashimi sauce is made to the taste she likes.
Later her mother suggested to add fish pate and mitihue (a popular Tahitian version of coconut sauce) to the list.
“There is a longer preparation process to make mitihue and it keeps in the fridge for a while.”
There is no doubt that Cook Islanders love to eat. She became inundated with calls to make grazing platters.
And now she caters for platter orders: “Depending on the occasion, I personalise the food so each platter is different, and I make my own crackers.”
Her goal is to supply her sauces to stores for customers to purchase, and she has reinvested her profits to purchase equipment to open a Mom’s Kitchen café at their family Raro Safari beach in Nikao.
An optimist, she thinks back to the frightening Covid-19 days in New Zealand and says, “I have to be positive, I look at making a good thing out of a bad thing.”
In the meantime, from Wednesday to Friday Mom's Kitchen has sashimi sauce, fish paté and mitihue and delicious home made platters to suit any event.
To make an order in advance please text me or call Te’a on phone 51030, or pop in to Mom's Kitchen located at the Raro Safari beach in Nikao.
Akari Pi Coconut Oil, by Tuaine Papatua.
Locally-made coconut oil has always been in high demand on the island.
Tuaine Papatua has taken his mother’s special Akari Pi recipe and is now selling the product in 75ml and 600ml bottles.
His granddaughter lives in Japan and suffers from eczema; that was the motivation he needed to learn and look seriously at making the oil.
The oil has healing properties that can soothe skin rash, cuts, wounds, burns, itchiness and other skin ailments, says Papatua.
“My recipe is secret from my mother in Mangaia and an aunt in Mitiaro,” he says.
“My mother took it to the next level, that’s why the oil is a darker colour than what people are used to.”
“Coconut oil is natural and has no chemicals, like all the ingredients in my oil and the pi is a healing plant.”
Making the oil is a time-consuming process, “especially the cooking part.”
Papatua has regular customers and enquiries from New Zealand and Australia, however he is busy keeping up with the demand here.
A musician and entertainer, he also manages the blue light police programme and encourages youth to think of ideas to earn their own pocket money.
Papatua and his wife returned to Rarotonga from Melbourne four years ago. “It’s good to be back,” he said.
The Akari Pi is available to purchase from the FoodBox takeaway outlet located next to Wigmore’s Super store in Vaiimanga. Please call Tuaine on phone 73677.