Rangi Mitaera-Johnson, second left, and some of the Pacific chefs she worked alongside. Homeland NZ/22100710
Cook Islands chef Rangi Mitaera-Johnson has described her experience at a celebration of food and community in Auckland as ‘incredibly full on with some of the finest chefs here in New Zealand’.
reflectedon an intenseweek of mixing it with some of the best
in the business.
“It’s great being surrounded
by like-minded people who are so passionate about the food basket of the
Pacific,” she said near the end of the week-long event.
She joined chefs from around
the Pacific in a showcase of produce and cuisine from around the region.
Kai Pasifika celebrated the
Pacific continent with several high-profile chefs converging on Peter Gordon’s
acclaimed Homeland Restaurant in Auckland this week.
“They were incredibly full
on days with some of the finest chefs here in New Zealand from day one.”
On day one, the mystery box
challenge saw New Zealand and Pacific chefs work side by side with a wide range
of Pacific ingredients using their professional and cultural skills, knowledge
and experiences to create specialty dishes.
“It was a very colourful
evening and exciting creations made with products from around the region.”
On day two, the chefs
undertook a mystery box challenge, providing food writers with the opportunity
to get up close and personal with Pacific ingredients, with guidance from the
Pacific chefs to create their own masterpieces.
“It started with a little
mystery box challenge together with New Zealand media cooking, using Pacific
products,” explains Mitaera-Johnson.
“It was amazing and there
were some incredibly diverse contributions to the palate that morning.
“In the afternoon we were
asked to prepare Canapés for a cocktail evening with key trade buyers.”
By day three, the action was
“We prepared a five-course
dinner for diners who booked to be part of this very exciting journey of
Pacific cuisine,” Mitaera-Johnson said.
“It was sold out within
minutes of it being advertised online.
“The event was well attended
by cabinet ministers.
“All diners enjoyed the
event and food delivered for all to enjoy.”
Mitaera-Johnson was joined by Dora Rossi (Samoa),
owner of Paddles Restaurant and Milani Café in Apia, Leonid Vusilai (Vanuatu),
winner of Pacific Island Food Revolution Season One, and owner of Island Kakae,
Losavati Sewale (Fiji), executive chef at Raymond’s Restaurant and a trainer
chef at Fiji Orchid Resort and Tuiohu Mafi (Tonga), head chef at Tanoa Hotel
and president of the Tonga Culinary Association.
The event was led by Pacific Trade Invest NZ (PTI NZ)
in collaboration with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
(MFAT), and Homeland – ‘the Food Embassy for Aotearoa and the Pacific.’
Mitaera-Johnson was contacted by New Zealand Foreign
Affairs and Trade in a combined effort to promote Pacific product and produce –
she has worked in kitchens for 25 years and now works freelance.