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Testimonials

Significant people who have worked with Robert Oliver share their testimonials below

Edouard Cointreau

, GOURMAND INTERNATIONAL, 
Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, President and Founder:

“The first book by Robert Oliver Me’a Kai was a surprising, yet easy decision
. It received the most important award of all for setting a new level for
cookbooks. It showed how one cookbook could be very ambitious, and try to 
have an impact on society, for health, food culture, and local economy. It
 tried to reconcile the local foods and their recipes with international 
level readers of cookbooks, restaurant chefs and clients of tourism hotels 
in the islands. 
The cookbook was high quality thanks to the team of authors, the design and
production of the publisher. So the content was enhanced by the format.
 It has been most interesting in subsequent years to see the impact of the 
book.

Robert Oliver also has been an inspiration to many since, including 
the following best books of the year, such as Gourmet Patagonia, by
 Francesco Fantini of Chile, or this year Cocina Palenquera, by Fundacion
 Transformemos of Colombia. Robert Oliver has become the Food Ambassador of
the South Pacific islands. His second book, Mea’ ‘ai Samoa is a very special book. It shows how a cookbook can bring social change, economic progress, and preserve food culture all at once”

gourmand_awards

Lelei Lelaulu, Chairman Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific (FSPI), Vice President Caribbean Media Exchange:

“For development folk, this stunning cookbook serves as an excellent primer for providing poor, rural farmers predictable incomes while giving hotels and restaurants more local, healthy foods which in turn reduces their food costs over imported produce by some 70%. Robert Oliver’s work, in association with community benefit development groups like FSPI, creates wealth for farmers, ups profits for hotels and restaurants, revives and enhances culinary culture, and improves the tourism offerings of destinations.”

Jessica Harris, world renowned cookbook author and food historian:

“Robert Oliver is one of the small breed of thinking chefs. His innovative way with food combines the ingredients and flavours of the tropics to create a cuisine that is at the same time marvellously contemporary and accessible to all and yet true to the deep bedrock of Robert’s South Pacific roots.”

Dr. Asif CHIDA
, Inclusive Growth and Private Sector, Regional Specialist
 UNDP Pacific Centre:

“Robert is one of the few globally recognized Chef who also has a strong passion and commitment in sustainable development particularly from an environment perspective of supporting organic farming by engaging rural youth and women. Robert’s close association with WIBDI in Samoa is a testimony of his commitment to support hundreds of  rural family producing organic vegetables, herbs and fruits to be converted into meals. Robert has worked hard in creating awareness and convincing  Samoa’s Restaurants and Café’s to convert some of their menus into “Organic Meals”. His effort to train and mentor local chefs has been appreciated in the hospitality sector.

Robert has also been instrumental to ensure that Samoan’s organic meals to be served at the Small Islands Development States (SIDS) Conference to be held in Apia in September 2014.

Robert’s excellent communication and presentation skills has motivated many young people to enter into the niche  employment areas of catering and as Chefs. Robert’s publications “Me’a Kai- The food and flavours of the South Pacific” and “Mea’ai Samoa” has not only given him a celebrity status but changed many homemakers and restaurants to the new ways of making meals using local produce.

Roberts’ technical expertise and passion for development through innovative initiatives both commercial and social enterprises will certainly help development partners to implement sustainable development programmes with a new and changed perspectives of creating jobs, supporting environment and healthy lifestyle with a strong linkages to agriculture, tourism, hospitality and industrial sectors.”

undp1

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, Former Vice President of Fiji:

“Robert’s book connects the imaginative dishes created with the produce from which they originate, to promote what is readily available, for the benefit of the community.”

Olivia Mavoa-Pareti, Chief Executive, Fiji Hotel Association, 2004:

“Robert has given our chefs in Fiji a totally different approach to our local cuisine that can be enjoyed by our visitors and locals alike.  Under his guidance dishes with local ingredients have been transformed, inspiring the local chefs at his training sessions to explore new ways to prepare local dishes and a cuisine that is healthy and exciting.  We look forward eagerly to his next visit.”

Vaughn Davis, Content Director,  TEDxAuckland:

“Robert Oliver was one of the most outstanding speakers at TEDx Auckland 2013. Robert gave an outstanding talk, combining his experiences living and working in the Pacific with his passion for using Pacific cuisine as a tool for change. His delivery was natural and held the audience’s attention completely.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 Robert

Mariel Hemingway – Actor / Food Writer:

“Robert Oliver takes the Pacific home grown crops and turns them into simple yet delicious meals that transport you to the South Pacific. His artistic abilities make for a tasty culinary experience that supports local communities efforts in sustainability. What could be better!”

SUVA restaurant, Miami Herald:

“Robert Oliver ..has a firm grasp on the food of his homeland, and he has mixed in Caribbean touches with often stunning results. Some of the food is beautifully simple… all of it is outstanding”

SUVA restaurant, Miami New Times:

“The food’s freshness shines through hot spices and cool fruits that practically trip over one another as they tumble across the palate”

SUVA restaurant, Conde Nast Traveler:

“Remarkable elegant presentations surprise the palate with spices that heat, fruits that cool and hints of exotica”

Beatrice Faumuina, Order of New Zealand Merit, C.E.O Best Leadership Academy:

Robert Oliver, has truly identified the “Essence” of Pasifika cuisine. He has allowed our families to celebrate, embrace and illustrate the “Richness” of Pasifika cuisine through the heart and humility of Pasifka people. When one has a willing heat and a genuine belief to allow others to grow then you have met someone who “Dares, Dares to Care, Dares to Dream so others can LIVE” This is Robert Oliver.

Jeff's orange matWEB

Top image by Jeff Lockhart // Dedicated to my dad. For more of Jeff’s work click here

Testimonial Letters

Robert Oliver
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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
bookings@johnsonlaird.co.nz
Current location: New Zealand

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