Category Archives: Travel

Rarotonga, Cook Islands and Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Jeunes Chefs Competition

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I was lucky enough to be invited to help judge the Chaine des Rotisseurs Jenues Chef competition held in Rarotonga this year held as part of their national Salon Culinaire. So reluctantly and with a heavy heart I boarded my Air NZ plane and left the nice cool windy, rainy climate of Wellington and headed into the sunny temperate climate that is the Cook Islands. As always when going to the islands, when you step off the plane you are hit by the heat. Now Rarotonga is not the hottest place in the world but you can expect temperature in the high 20′s with high humidity which makes it feel like it’s in the mid 30′s. And for someone who has well acclimatized to the Wellington “summer” this can be a bit of a shock. Pack your stubbies and singlets. IMG_0867

The Jeunes Chef competition itself is a global competion organised by the Chaine for young chefs who compete first in regionals before then competing in their national finals to see who will represent their country. The Cook Islands finals were held in conjunction with the Cook Islands Chef’s Association Salon Culinaire held at the local training institution. It has been over 11 years since I worked and lived in the Cook Islands and back then there was no formal hospitality training set up on the island with the only qualified labour coming from overseas so I am really happy to see how things have changed and progressed over the years through the efforts of many people including Sam Timoko and the Cook Islands Chefs Association. The competitors put our some good dishes in very trying conditions which were challenging even for us judges who had to only stand up for the 3 hour competition let alone pull finger and actually cook under pressure.

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I was booked into the compact Castaway resort on the eastern side of the island (it takes about 40mins there or there abouts to drive around the island at the 50km/hr speed limit) and you get decent value for the price your paying. The owners are the face of the business and are very friendly, helpful and I had a good stay with everything I could want. The air conditioning was most welcome! I met up with fellow chefs Jaqui Brown (Brick & Vines) and head judge Marc Soper (Wharekahau) at The Islander Hotel which is located right next to the airport. The beer is cheap and cold, the hospitality excellent and we were lucky enough to experience an island night there with a local food buffet and awesome show put on by one of the local dance troupes.  The Islander was also the location of our Chaine Gala dinner where myself, Marc, Jaqui, Tua and Phillip put on a course each.

The Islander Island night

The Islander Island night

 The Bailli Délégué (president) of the Cook Islands Chaine is Phillip Nordt, owner and chef at On the Beach (OTB) at Manuia Beach Resort so we were lucky enough to spend some time there before and after the competition. They have an infinity pool, a bar with cold drinks and some excellent food. Their Sous chef Tua was the winner of the Jenues Chef’s competition ( global young chef’s competition) and we had a most excellent dinner there so if you’re looking for somewhere to have a nice meal and in the area I would recommend popping over. 

Another thing you should do is go check out Captain Tama’s lagoon cruises. The guys are an absolute crack up and I can’t think of anything much more special and relaxing than sitting on a boat watching the sun go down.

Captain Tamas Cruises

Captain Tamas Cruises

For a bit of night life there’s Rehab bar and if you like loud music, cheap bourbon and want to challenge yourself to a local experience there’s the fun but Jungle bar. On the way home you can grab a chicken pocket from the food cart outside of Rehab Bar or stop at the food cart down past the markets and ask for a “Wet Cheese”, it’s a burger not on the menu and I’m not sure if it was a joke on the Pakehas or not but it hit the spot for a midnight snack!IMG_0925

 

 

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Colombo, Sri Lanka

IMG_1803One of the reasons I became a chef was for the prospect of being able to travel. I saw cooking as a way to see the world and get paid while doing it, and so far it is working out reasonably well. I was lucky enough to be invited to judge at the most recent Hotel Asia cooking competitions in Sri Lanka. Having never visited the country before was relishing the opportunity to see the competition entries, meet some new fellow chefs and to hopefully get out and about and see a little bit of the city while I was there.IMG_1756 Sri Lanka has for a long time been in a state of civil war and is just starting to enjoy the positive influence peace time brings. As we were driving along some of the streets in Colombo to and from the event centre where the competitions were held I asked one of the chefs I was with what Colombo was like. He said now it’s great. The country is becoming prosperous again and growing with increased foreign investment and in the next few years the city is going to grow and will be the place to be.IMG_1804IMG_1809 Colombo is an interesting city in a developing country. The poverty gap seems quite large. In the central city there are grand 5 star international hotels but you drive past slums on the way to them during the hour’s drive from the airport. This is the same as many Asian countries although here you feel that the place is still trying to catch up from the mess that is war.  You won’t find the same massive shopping centers as in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore but you will find smaller shopping centers and shops, much the same as in Bangkok or Saigon. Colombo is on the coast and the temperature although humid, is actually quite nice with the sea breeze. Getting around is easy and there are a lot of tuk tuk’s if you’re not going too far. Although be careful to check out the distance of where you are going on the map first and always agree on the price beforehand or go on the meter. Crime doesn’t seem to be a massive problem unless you’re IMG_1796in the wrong place at the wrong time although unless you’re careful you will probably get ripped off. The best bet is not to accept anyone’s help and to be informed about where/what you want to do and look up how much it will cost before you head out. There are some nice parks in Colombo and some beautiful Buddhist temples with Buddhism being IMG_1807the major religion. The artwork in some of these temples is amazing and it is customary to remove your shoes before entering and to give a small donation for the privilege. I love Sri Lankan food and for me it is like a mix between Indian and Malay cuisine with beautifully fragrant curries with their own unique curry blends and the frequent use of coconut and rice for both sweet and savoury dishes. If you get a chance do try a hopper. Hoppers are very much the Sri Lankan version of a crepe and my favorite had an egg cracked into it, cooked and folder over and served with a very spicy sambal.IMG_1814 All is calm now and it’s easy to forget the troubles that aren’t that far in the past. Apparently driving around now takes 10% of the time it used to as now the road blocks and bomb checks are no longer there, although there is still a very visible military presence. The hotel I was staying at was nice I remarked to a colleague, a little bit tired but the lobby seemed a bit newer. Yeah that’s because it was bombed a few years ago and the General Manager killed was the response. Walking around the lively city civil war almost seemed worlds away.IMG_1801

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Indian Cuisine in the Islands

DSC_6942 We are probably all familiar with the most famous Indian dishes such as the North Indian butter chicken and South Indian Biryani and Vindaloo but the term Indian cuisine actually encompasses a wide variety of different and unique food styles. Each region has their own flavours and ingredients from a country covering a vast swathe of land. Different parts of the country have their own specialties using ingredients common to their particular location. DSC_6947For example Kerala has more use of coconut, Rajasthan uses more milk and ghee than some other regions and Gujarat has it’s own unique mostly vegetarian style.   I was lucky enough to live in Kuala Lumpur and experience food cooked by Indians who make up a significant percentage of Malaysia’s population. In KL the Indian cuisine is generally speaking a “greatest hits” of dishes from different regions using a great variety of ingredients that would often not be available in the geographically separated regions in India. This is the style of cuisine that we serve at the resort. 

One of my favorite dishes is Lamb Rogan Josh from the Kashmir region. It’s relatively mild heat and use of fragrant spices really appeals to me and of course as with everything, is better is cooked using meat on the bone. Some of the dishes we serve include Chicken Shorba; a lightly spiced clear chicken soup with coriander, Dal Makhani; whole black lentils simmered with ginger, garlic, and herbs and Keema Mattar which is minced lamb cooked with peas, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, spices and herbs with fresh coriander.

We are lucky enough here to have a full show kitchen including a Tandoor oven and a skilled Tandoor chef who cooks to order Naan and Tandoori chicken to have with your meal along with a range of accompaniments such as raita, mango chutney, lime pickle and poppadom. Raita is a yoghurt sauce made with cucumber and often a little cumin or mint and acts as a cooling agent to have with your meal, especially helpful if you’re a bit of a softie and can’t handle your heat!

 

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Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

IMG_2016Salamat Datang Ke Malaysia.   Welcome to Malaysia… Kuala Lumpur, what a wonderful city. For me it is one of my most favorite places in the world. Having worked and lived here it has IMG_2010fond memories for me and is a fantastic place to be. KL is a melting pot a different cultures, food, sights and smells. More developed than Vietnam but less developed and sterile than Singapore, in KL you can find anything you want. Kuala Lumpur is a place of great variety and contradictions but this is where in lies its charm for me. One moment you can be in a sprawling shopping mall walking past (but not often into for me!) shops named Gucci, Versace, Dunhill and 5 minutes walk away can be in an area with open drains with people washing dishes and cooking on the street. Whatever IMG_1960your preference and price range you can find it in KL and this goes also for food and drink. You can have dinner at a 5 star deluxe Shangri-La cooked by an ex-French Laundry chef for several hundred dollars and then walk 5 minutes down the road and have some amazing street food sitting on a plastic stool on the road paired with a cold Tiger or Carlsburg for a fraction of the cost of your starter.IMG_1986 If you’re into shopping the two most up-market malls are Suria KCLL which is part of the Petronas Twin Towers and Pavillion which is at the end of Bukit Bintang and accessible by an overhead walkway to and from KLCC. Other more value for money shopping centres are BB Plaza, Lot 10 and Sunei Wang which are all on or near Bukit Bintang. If you want to go for a more local and cheaper experience then Chow Kit Markets are fun and about a 15minute (15rm) taxi fare away but be prepared to barter especially if you look like a tourist! The main street where all the action is is Jalan Bukit Bintang. Jalan translates IMG_2017to something like “way” and you can “jalan” yourself if you are going somewhere. Behind Bukit Bintang is Jalan Alor, this is a whole street just full of street food, whatever you want here you will find it. If there is a heaven I think it will be some sort of ground hog day with me sitting here having some amazing food with great friends all washed down with some cold bottles of beer. After you’ve eaten yourself silly you can then head down IMG_1966to Jalan Ceylon where you will find a lot of bars and more up-market restaurants. My favorite place on Jalan Alor is Restoran Dragon View and their crab is awesome. A great snack to be found everywhere are charcoal grilled corn with salt and butter and a Ramley burger although probably the reason for many heart attacks can’t be beaten, especially after a few pints on Jalan Ceylon, just make sure you get ‘the works’! If Indian food is IMG_1962more to your taste then off Jalan Ceylon is Jalan Nagasari where there are a few good curry houses open 24 hours. The best of which used to be Nagasari Curry House.

 

If you love food and haven’t been to KL, hurry up and book your ticket. 

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Khon Kaen Markets, Thailand

photo(7)Only ever having been to Bangkok before, Khon Kaen was somewhere I had never even heard of. I recently attended a 2 day conference at the Centara Khon Kaen Convention Center otherwise I would have probably never visited this city. Driving in from the airport I was a bit concerned but this is actually quite a vibrant city of about 1 million. I had one free day before flying back to work and reality, so thought what better way to spend it than checking out the photo(8)markets. These are amazing places, full of sights, smells and busy with people selling, buying and going about their daily business. There is something better about these places than anything you get back home. They’re just so interesting. Markets in western countries tend to be sterile (in both senses) and although when you look around the markets in Asia you can’t help but think about the hygiene, I have never once got food poisoning in all my time living, working and eating abroad. Ironically it’s only back in New Zealand that I have got sick where the food hygiene education is much better. Maybe photo(4)it’s because things here are cooked so fresh. Most things are live and I saw one person selecting a fish to take home; it was freshly killed on the spot with a swift blow of a cleaver to it’s head. The same applies when cooking. I didn’t get a chance to eat out properly on the street while here but as in Vietnam and many other places in Asia, when you order a fish, frog, eel, prawns or whatever you choose to have for your meal, it is taken out of the live tank and cooked in front of you. Now you can’t get much fresher, or better than that.

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Maldives and the environment

Rubbish being burned off into the atmosphere

Rubbish being burned off into the atmosphere

Stunning white beaches, pristine sands, crystal clear water… this is the view that I am sure the Tourism board wants you to see, and for the most part is true. However how rubbish is dealt with in the Maldives has shocked me. I am not an expert in the field of environment or waste management, but I have eyes and I also think I have good common sense and it doesn’t take a scientist to realise that if you keep polluting and don’t have a proper plan for dealing with your rubbish and put it into practice you are going to fuck the world.

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Nappies and other rubbish on the beach

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Floating rubbish sharing the water with the fish we eat

Although the Maldives is not a first world country one would still think it would be prudent to take care of the ocean since it is where the majority of the food comes from. Being a chef this is something that concerns me and I think about often. Fishing makes up a very large percentage of the economy and the water is also the draw card for the tourism industry (which makes up over half of the economy). There seems to be a total disregard for littering and a lack of caring. The majority of rubbish gets sent to Thila Fushi (aka rubbish island) where rubbish is piled on rubbish upon more rubbish stacked dangerously close to the water’s edge, and that rubbish that isn’t stacked up is burned releasing huge plumes of smoke into the atmosphere. Not all of it goes straight up but drifts; something I realised as the pungent smell assaulted my senses and burned the back of my throat as we sailed past in a ferry one day. I truly think a lot of it comes down to education. Nobody seems to care. Even the “out of sight, out of mind” approach doesn’t work if the problem has got so large that you can’t help but see it. I have seen a boat driver throw his rubbish out of the window into the sea without a care in the world and a woman in Male throw her empty drink container onto the ground after her small child had finished with it. Apparently ‘floating rubbish’ is an issue and with actions and attitudes like this it is not a surprise.

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Eventually some of the floating rubbish gets washed up

With most of the Maldives being under 3ft above sea level this country especially should be concerned about caring for the environment, global warming and rising sea levels. If for no other reason than self-preservation. I’m not sure what the answer is but if people aren’t educated and change their ways and start caring about their environment then maybe there won’t be too much left to care about sooner than we think.

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Rubbish dumped on the beach

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Maafushi Dining Guide

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Maafushi main street

 Having decided we needed a break from work and the little island we call home, we decided to take a trip for a few days and go stay at an inhabited island to also get a taste of the ‘real’ Maldives. About 90 minutes ferry ride from the capital Male, Maafushi is an inhabited island with a population of about 1,200. There are over 15 guest houses and boutique hotels on the island and seems to be a popular spot for a bit more of a ‘budget’ Maldives experience with average room prices from $25 to $150. IMG_0067Just for your information a normal price for a hotel room in a Maldives resort is in the 600-1,000$US a night range! Beaches are nice enough with the best spots on the left and far side of the island opposite the jetty (North East). The other side houses the prison and the beaches there are non existant and full of floating and beached rubbish. Quite shocking the amount of pollution and rubbish management in this country really, but that’s for another post…

IMG_1501I had a look on google for places to eat while on the island but couldn’t really find any decent information so decided to write this post. The island consists mostly of tourist shops selling wooden trinkets and souvenirs and guest houses or boutique hotels. There are also a couple of small stalls on the beach selling things like drinking coconuts for 3 times the price you pay in Male and a few mini mart type places selling basic groceries of the tinned IMG_1500variety and maybe a little bit of fruit. Self catering options don’t seem to really exist; the guest houses rely on the income from food revenue and even if you did have kitchen facilities the available food variety isn’t great and probably not to non-local tastes. I couldn’t find any take-away joints so dining at a guest house/hotel seems the only option. An average price for a main course should be between 45 and 75MVR which is between 3 and 5$US.

I have put together some information of all the places we went to during our stay so as to help any future visitors to the island avoid the tourist traps.

Day 1

Dinner: Kaani Beach Hotel (North West by the beach side main road)

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Kaani Beach Hotel, nice rooms bad restaurant

The hotel itself is quite nice. We had a beach view room and the rooms were clean with a decent balcony. Staff were friendly but are in desperate need to training unfortunately. Despite my reservations of using the hotel’s restaurant we were tired and thought why not, it won’t be too bad..? Yeah wrong. Drinks order took 25mins to deliver some of the drinks and 35mins to deliver the rest (a coke?!). Was an hour wait for some fried chicken and chips and a minute steak with chips and salad. Also ordered a Shepherds pie. After all, we thought yeah we’ll order something nice and simple looking forward to a homely simple meal. This special dish beat my already lowered expectations. Apparently Shepherds pie consists of some mixed vegetables in a mystery white sauce topped with some glue like bread. BIZZARE. So strange I checked to make sure this was actually the Shepherds pie, apparently it is. I really wished I had taken a picture of this dish as it is actually the worst thing I have ever been served in a restaurant in my life. This was right after they tried to bring us another dish we hadn’t ordered. All this and there was 3 tables in the place with maybe 8 diners in total. Shocking. And at the end it was about 40$US which is at the upper end and quite expensive (about half a week’s wages in this country).

Day 2

Breakfast: Kaani beach hotel

Being the sucker for punishment that I am and having been unable to google anywhere else for breakfast the night before, decided to have our included breakfast at the hotel. Yet again I had low expectations, considerably lowered since our experiences of the night before but were still a little surprised. Juice from a powder sachet, corn flakes, cold lentil curry, warm room temp milk, baby corn in ketchup, grated coconut, chapati, and the highlight: chopped papaya. To be fair the coffee was nice and hot even if it was instant and they offered to cook us eggs. Which took about half an hour (yet again only about 3 tables in the place) and they managed to break and over cook the yolk yet under cook the white, even sous vide this is quite hard. Now if this was a $15 buck a night hostel then well that’s what you might expect but our bill for our room was about $110US a night so it would normally be safe to assume something half decent.

Lunch: Rehendi Restaurant (Next to Kaani Beach Hotel)

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Viet Cong Punji Stick Burger

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Rehendi Restaurant

This place was right next door to our hotel and I had hopes of maybe a half decent burger of some description. The food here was pretty average and priced also about average. Not a bad place. Although it took an age. This seems to be the common theme with places here, it took half an hour for a bottle of water. Now I have lived and worked in islands before and thought I had realistic expectations. But half an hour for a bottle of water when we are the only people in the place?? Come on…! When I went to enquire I was told “coming”. Now it’s a bottle of water, what’s coming? The water bottle delivery? Really not sure what was going on there. This place is also the home of what I call the “Viet Cong Burger”. The food arrived and was ok, the burger was about what I expected and came with fries and about 1tbspn of coleslaw. I thought, hey lets put the slaw in my burger, I open it up and see a submerged toothpick inside ready to impale my lip or mouth much like a booby trap back in ‘Nam! I counted myself lucky… I had flash backs of Tom Berenger in Platoon yelling at me to “Take the PAIN!!!”

Dinner: Venturo Restaurant (about half way along the main inland road)

IMG_1496Having gone for a bit of a wander during the day we found this place on the main drag. When we first walked in there were three guys playing cards which gave the impression we had walked into somewhere we shouldn’t have! A little bit like the Russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter… But yes it was the restaurant and we were sat upstairs. We ordered a couple of pastas; macaroni and a bolognaise. Which turned out to be farfelle and fusili, both coming in a canned vegetarian tomato sauce. Not what I ordered but the pasta was actually cooked perfectly el dente and it was hot and came out in about 25mins, so very acceptable especially in the scheme of things! Down side here was that the food was more than twice the price of the other places we had been to with the exception of Kaani Beach Hotel.

Day 3

Breakfast: Kaani Beach Hotel

Back here again for breakfast… dear oh dear. Moderately better than before. Pretty much the same except instead of lentil curry and baby corn in ketchup there was sliced processed frankfurters in ketchup and baked beans. I was grateful for baked beans. We ordered eggs again. A solitary boiled egg, cold in the middle and a fried egg, this time so raw that it was possible to see through the top half into the bottom half. I asked for it to be quickly flipped over please. 20mins of waiting later fuck this I’m outa here.

Lunch: Leisure Boutique Hotel (green building about half way between Kaani Beach and the Jetty)

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This was a place on the main beach side road. Really friendly staff and looked like it was a husband/wife running the place. Had a decent fried rice and fried noodle. They also do Shisha for 5$US. A bit on the pricey side being more than Venturo Restaurant but better quality and sitting outside in the garden eating was nice.IMG_0167

Dinner:White Shell Beach Inn (North side of the island, beach side)

IMG_1502Now I thought ok, there has to be somewhere half decent round here and spotted this place. For 100MVR (about 6.50$US) you could get a whole chicken and if we had of been staying longer I would have come back. We ordered the grilled chicken meal for two which came with a decent amount of coleslaw and rosshi (chapati) and at 150MVR was really good value and a very simple but really enjoyable meal. Was all out within about 25mins too which was great.  Yay!IMG_0173

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Male fish markets and sustainable fishing in the Maldives

IMG_1478Not being an early riser we arrived at the markets most likely after all the good stuff had since been sold. It was roughly lunchtime, the jetty being busy with local boats, tourists arriving and departing Male on day trips and the Coast Guard doing whatever it is the Coast Guard does.

The ferry crossing was rather pleasant if not a little hot but that is normal here. We had experienced some extreme weather the week before with some ferries cancelled due to the high seas. Being able to go from one place to another irrespective of the weather is something you take for granted not being from a sea faring nation.

IMG_0008“Smells like low tide…” ah yes, we must be nearing the fish markets! I always like visiting the local markets wherever I am working. It’s important to see what’s available and what the prices and quality is like. If you can get away with using local instead of imported and cutting down on the food miles then it is better do so for both the environment and the budget. I have to say that at first glance the fish markets were uninspiring at best. There was the inevitable smell, the sad looking dead octopus on the floor surrounded by flies and what I hope are the small sized rejects that didn’t get snapped up first thing in the morning. Mental note: get your arse out of bed earlier next time…!

IMG_0002Most of what was on offer was Tuna along with some smaller herring type fish, a couple of fish that I am more used to seeing in an aquarium or voiced by Ellen DeGeneres on a particular kid’s film and a type of anchovy like sprat. Tuna make up a significant proportion of the economy in the Maldives. Fish and coconuts are pretty much the only readily available resources here with fishing only being eclipsed in the economy by tourism about three decades ago. All the fishing in the Maldives is done by hand with either rods (modern or traditional) or hand lines; netting is forbidden. Which is really good news for the sustainability of the Tuna industry. At first I was shocked at the sizes of some of the Tuna on display having previously worked in the Cook Islands and seen the monsters hauled into the kitchen on wheel barrows. But it seems that a lot of what is caught are Skip Jack Tuna whose normal size is 1.5 to 5 kg, with an average 35cm fish coming in at about 3kg, although I am certain some of the fish I saw were suspect. IMG_0004Skipjack tuna are a smaller variety than the endangered Blue Fin tuna. The problem is that juvenile Yellow Fin and Big Eye tuna swim with adult Skip Jack. Much of the Skip Jack fishing around the world is done with purse seine vessels which use large nets and catch indiscriminately like those in finding Nemo. (I have a 3yr old daughter so know that film well…!) What this does means is that as much as 30% of a catch is of the less common Tuna variety caught and killed before they have reached breeding age thus creating a bit of a vicious cycle of diminishing numbers.

IMG_0034At the markets the quality of what was on offer was not the best. Although I’m sure it was fresh that day as there was no refrigeration it’s definitely not what I would exactly call sashimi grade. Tuna needs to be killed quickly and bled in order to produce a good quality product. This usually involves a spike to the brain. If death does not come quickly then the stress causes a build-up of lactic acid which results in a dull looking, greyish flesh instead of the nice bright colour we are used to. If the Tuna is not bled then you end up with an excessive blood line which is full of Mercury and not really fit to eat. That said, how Tuna is prepared locally here is very different from how you would serve it back home. Instead of sashimi, or lightly seared or grilled most of it ends up in a curry or a traditional Maldivan spicy Tuna soup whose name eludes me but is not really my cup of tea anyway. IMG_0006If you did so choose to take a fish home then you could do so cheaply for about $3US per kg and have it wet filleted on the spot by some very fast and talented filleters. Maybe they are looking for a job…?

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Working in “Paradise”…

Living and working on a tropical island

DSC_1735The standard remark from people when I tell them where I work is “wow it must be great working in paradise!” Although I think people forget that working somewhere and being on holiday there are two completely different experiences! Working somewhere with a stunning view is great but unless you manage to have a good life/work balance then the inside of the kitchen walls all look the same no matter which part of the world they are in.

Problems and solutions

Living on an island can feel a little bit like Alcatraz sometimes and the boarding school mentality can sometimes set it. The saying “don’t shit where you sleep” is not applicable in these circumstances! It is important to stay away from the gossip and the politics for once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny. Make sure you get your own space so you can separate yourself from work. Working and living on site can be great because you’re nice and close to work and can be at work quickly if something goes tits up, but it can also be difficult because you’re nice and close to work and are often back at work quickly when things go tits up. Whether you go for a swim, go to the gym, play some Xbox or go on a day trip, it is a really good idea to get a break from the scenery, the people and the work to mentally recharge your batteries.

Different cultures

People in different parts of the world work and live in different ways. A multi-national kitchen brigade is no different. Often some nationalities will naturally have difficulties working together due to cultural differences. There are often language barriers also. It can also be a struggle sometimes trying to manage a diverse group of people. For example in one person’s culture it may be disrespectful to give someone a “no” answer, so one needs to take this into consideration when asking questions such as “is all the prep done?”  Or “did you follow the recipe?” As a manager it is up to you to learn the right approach to get the best out of your staff and understand and embrace these cultural differences.

Logistics

Working in a remote location or a semi-remote location poses a number of issues that one takes for granted when working in a city. When working in the CBD of a modern city you expect to be able to place your order at the end of the night, for the delivery to arrive by a set time in the morning and for the quantity and product to be correct and for the item to be of good quality. In remote locations, despite all your morals pointing away from it, sometimes you have no choice but to work out of the freezer. Perhaps you can only get a seafood or meat delivery one time a week or maybe even longer. You need to make a choice; do we buy in chilled and either run the risk of running out or serving old product? Not serve meats at all, or serve pre-frozen meats and defrost them carefully in the chiller overnight? Because of your location you sometimes have to make these difficult decisions. Often it is best to look at what’s available and work with that rather than trying to do something that is often unavailable or bad quality and end up pulling your hair out. All that you can do is do your best with what you’ve got.

Pros

IMG_1113Working on an island (third time for me now) can be a very rewarding and challenging experience. If you go back to civilization then things do seem a hell of a lot easier! Make sure you try to make the most of what you have and enjoy it while you can. Don’t focus on the negatives and how you would like things, go with the flow and embrace that which you do have, not stress over what you don’t.

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