Samoa Observer

Celebrity chef provides answer: Robert Oliver in Samoa Observer


If the saying ‘you are what you eat’ is to be taken as gospel truth, then Samoans are in big trouble.

One must ask, shouldn’t being high on the world diabetic charts be a wake up call for Samoans?

Renowned Chef, Author and TV celebrity, Robert Oliver, says the answer to Samoa’s diet problems is simple.

“Samoa is second on the diabetic charts in the world, the answer to all these diet issues in Samoa sits in the original cuisines of Samoa and the dishes that our grandmothers cook,” he said.

“Those are whole foods and not processed/convenience foods, the ironic thing is that convenience foods are no longer convenient when you turn 50 years old and you have to have a leg taken off.”

According to Mr. Oliver, simply cutting down on things is not the answer. “There is a lot of initiatives around staying healthy by cutting down on sugar and salt, but if you just go back to a system of eating whole balanced foods then you will take off all those issues,” he said.

“That’s what Samoan original cuisine is, I’m not saying it has to be in its original form because cuisines change over time and people make their own different versions of the dishes.

“But respect the foundation, which is food from the ground and not from the packages; If something has more than 7 ingredients in it then I would say run in terror.” Samoa has access to a large number of organic farms yet it is not taken advantage of. “My whole point is to simply go back to real whole foods, this country has a large number of organic farms and so the answer is right in front of everyone,” Mr. Oliver said.

“You walk in the Fugalei market and you see all these beautiful food; the issue is also some mindsets, I was brought up in the pacific and we always think that everything from overseas is better but it’s just not.

“You just have to live overseas to know that, I think if we go back to eating from the earth then Samoa will descend from the diabetic charts.

“Many people watch cooking shows because they want to reconnect to that culture, I work in the cuisine space because I see cuisine as part of culture and so we belong in that.”

Mr. Oliver feels that the government also has a part to play in this.

“I would like to see things taxed here in Samoa; I know it’s a controversial issue,” he said.

“I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist, but I have worked in the broad health scope for a long time now, I know New Zealand is being pressured to put a sugar tax on fizzy drinks because it’s the same as smoking.

“Cigarette companies now fund their own wellness because it is heavily taxed, I don’t see why the same approach can’t be taken for food.

“If people spent more time in the kitchen cooking whole foods rather than just think of what’s fast then things will all fall in place.”

Mr. Oliver urges Samoa to start thinking of what you put in your mouth.

“Please people of Samoa, eat local foods, you have niu so you don’t need fizzy drinks,” he said.

“The answer to good health, good economy and good identity is sitting everywhere around you, in your farms, in your kitchens and in the food your grandmothers cook.

Read full article HERE


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My acceptance speech at the KEA WORLD CLASS NEW ZEALAND AWARDS

I have had a long association with KEA during my years in New York and Shanghai- so this feels great...there are many dreamers like me out there but few get acknowledgment in the public arena- so thx KEA for valuing what I do …I am truly grateful

All of the work credited to me of course is the combined efforts of many and this recognition lifts us all. I have been fortunate to work with some brilliant collaborators. … firstly I’d like to acknowledge my co author and writing partner Dr Tracy Berno, and photographer- the magic man! Shiri Ram

You need vision to see vision, so I'd like to salute Mr Edouard Cointreau founder of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards who in seeing our vision gave us the thrilling break that put us on the path we walk today
I am seriously grateful to the tenacious Heather Lee and Anna Marbrook of Zoomslide Productions who painfully and patiently schooled me in the world of television with my first show REAL PASIFIK based on our books

I have also loved my roles on both My Kitchen Rules and Marae Kai Masters and wish to thank Imagination TV, Television New Zealand and Maori TV… and in particular Cindi Lucas ….and I have loved sharing screen time with 2 of Aotearoa’s biggest talents who are both dear friends…and they are Nadia Lim and Tekohe Tuhaka (I learned heaps from you TK..)
I wish to acknowledge my partners at Kai Pasifika restaurant…Auckland’s hot Pacific Island restaurant born thru the efforts of Richard Hall, Kenina Court, Repeka Lelaulu and our awesome chef Bertrand Jang
I speak for us all when I say it is our great honour and privilege to serve the Pacific community in Auckland, this Pacific city in this Pacific nation

I cherish my relationship with Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand and especially my friendship with its dynamic director Jenny Jenkins

I have amazing friends who have always thought the best of me…and man, that can get you anywhere in life…everyone knows the fabulousness of Beatrice Faumuina, and then there’s Gayle Anne Kelly of One Bowl Productions in Los Angeles, Maiki McKay, Shauna Flenady, Cindy of Samoa and the ever awesome Marisa Tomei….many of you know her as a Hollywood actress, but through our 30+ years of often outrageous friendship, I know her as a sterling soul. She was the first person I called when we won the Gourmand Award …I was in a state of shock at reaching such crazy heights and Marisa’s words to me were “But I’ve have always seen you that way”

I have been guided and mentored by a group of Pacific Island women. It’s not that they set out to teach me; it is that I learned EVERYTHING just by being around them.
They are Votausi McKenzie in Vanuatu, Papiloa Bloomfield Folikai in the Kingdom of Tonga, Adi Tafuna’i and Faumuina Tafuna’I in Samoa, and Suliana Siwatibau in Fiji. Through these women, I have been exposed to true leadership. It's a form of leadership that is based on the power of love, rather than the love of power….the kind that nurtures communities… … they saw the value of my work in the broadest sense- by looking back both to their own grandmothers and also forward to their grandchildren. The story of the food is the story of the people, and these women entrusted me with their stories, stories from the past that are also the blueprint for the future- in fact, I now view all of my work as the activation of indigenous knowledge, their knowledge.

And then there are the ones that have always been…my own whanau….my brothers Jeff and Richard, my awesome sister Shelley, beautiful Willa and handsome Sione, and my mother Jean who has loved and guided us all, she’s always believed in us, and with that in your life, you can fly.
3 months ago today, my beloved father left us…he was much more than a father to me, he was my mentor, my hero. Legacy is defined in many ways- often in buildings built, wars won, institutions founded, policies enacted.

But for me, the truly great leaders, the Martin Luther Kings, the Ghandis, legacy is something that is left in the people whom they affect, the social movements they inspire, the communities they enrich, the mindsets they ignite. This speaks to me of my father. He touched the lives of thousands of people and he gave me my mindset, the way that I think. He may not be here in person, but he is profoundly and absolutely here in spirit and I am my fathers son…so Tagaloafa’atautele Dennis John Oliver….although it is me standing here accepting this accolade, this pretty boy…this is really one for the whanau
Kia ora..vinaka vakalevu, malo lava..
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About Robert

Award winning Author, Chef Ambassador for Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand/Pacific Islands, TV presenter of REAL PASIFIK and MKRNZ tasting panelist.

For event or booking enquiries please contact: Johnson & Laird Management
+64 9 376 0882
Current location: New Zealand

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