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Healthy meals, healthy life

Chandra Fisi'iahi
Sunday, May 07, 2017

CHEF Colin Chung's passion for cooking brings out the best recipes which include a lot of healthy ingredients.

He started cooking from a young boy and got the love for cooking from his two grandmothers — his maternal "Popo", a Chinese owner and cook in a busy cafe in Honolulu, who taught him the ways of seeing the good in local produce and the techniques of using them. His paternal grandmother, "Maui Popo", who lived on Maui taught him the ways of a farmer and gatherer.

Colin graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in travel industry management, majoring in hotel and restaurant management.

He spent his early career in hospitality management in resort hotels, airlines, restaurants in Hawaii, and soon after he started travelling widely throughout the South Pacific.

He first came to Fiji in 1974 and during his visit, he fell in love with the volcanic soils, plentiful oceans, the tropical climate, and the abundance of space but mostly the beautiful people.

"The first time I came, I met a lot of people and made contacts, those people are now friends of mine and we share the same love for food," chef Colin said.

"Fiji Islands have an incredible ability to produce high quality seafood, meat, vegetables and fruit, the local markets also showcase an array of products throughout the year that can be utilised in many contemporary ways."

According to chef Colin, Fiji has a lot of potential to grow, to really make a difference which will help the locals to grow, which will also help lower the amount of patients carrying non-communicable diseases and decrease the level of imports into Fiji.

Seeing the potential in Fiji is where the idea of the cook book ignited, a way to help teach the locals about making maximum use of the resources that are always available in the back yard or at the fish market.

The cook book Kana Vinaka — Contemporary Island Cuisine has 102 recipes that focus on the use of local produce such as dalo, eggplant, fish, sea urchins, goat and many others. Kana vinaka means "eat well or good food" in the iTaukei language.

Colin promotes the use of fresh, local produce and the development of a more contemporary style of cuisine using the outstanding local produce.

Kana Vinaka is a not-a-profit initiated cook book for Colin, and the hope is to provide lasting development for the tourism and hospitality industry in Fiji as well as changing the way locals eat in their own country.

The book also focuses on healthy, sustainable and lowering dependence on imports and promoting growth and vibrancy of the economy.

Colin has a wealth of experience in all aspects of hospitality. His career has taken him around the world.

He moved to New Zealand from his homeland Hawaii in the 1980s and settled in Raglan on New Zealand's west coast.

In New Zealand, he has run several successful cafes and bars including the legendary Vinnies in Raglan doing so while travelling around the Pacific Islands as a hospitality consultant.

Throughout his career, Colin has assisted many of the world's most famous hotel brands with their operations, while cooking for some of the world's most famous names such as Nicole Kidman, The Rolling Stones and Justin Timberlake.

However for Colin, his biggest achievement is having his very own cook book, Kana Vinaka.

"Hopefully my book will be used as a cooking tool in universities around the Pacific because to me young people are the future of tomorrow, and hopefully they get inspired to eat healthy and stop eating all this rubbish-imported fried foods," chef Colin said.

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