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