Raglan launch for renowned chef’s not-for-profit cookbook

Back in March this year the Chronicle reported on local chef Colin Chung’s cookbook launch in Fiji and, as promised, on Sunday, September 17, he will be launching the book in his home town, too.

The cookbook titled ‘Kana Vinaka’, which means ‘eat well or ‘good food’ in Fijian is a not-for-profit project that Colin has taken on to help promote the use of local produce and healthy eating for Fijians and Pacific Islanders in general.

The core idea embedded in the book is to empower Fijians to use local produce, like freshly caught octopus and locally grown hearts of palm, to create contemporary island cuisine.

“Some of the resorts just import bags and bags of frozen French fries. They have no place on our island menus. We have better tasting, better looking and better for you root veges like yellow cassava and orange kumala (kumara) to make your own fries.” Colin says.

Colin has been visiting and consulting within the islands for over 40 years so assisting in the development of a modern style of island cooking has been a long-term project for him. Colin’s passion for this style of cuisine comes from two places – the produce and the people.

“Not only is there an abundant supply of incredible produce in Fiji, there is a nation of good-hearted people who deserve a helping hand in improving the quality of their lives,” he says.

Promoting the use of local produce and healthy eating is not only about creating a better product but also about creating a sustainable local economy. Many of the large hotels and resorts in the Pacific Islands import around 80% of their ingredients from outside of the islands – including canned coconut milk.

“There is an abundance of fresh coconuts on their doorstep, if hotels chose to source locally, it could make a significant difference to the local community.’ Colin says.

While promoting the book in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Australia, Colin has come across communities of Pacific Islanders that see the application of the book’s principles to their own local produce, not only to connect back to their own culture, but also to combat negative health outcomes in their own communities.

Pacific Islanders, including Maori, are often overrepresented when it comes to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other NCDs and, while a complicated issue, knowledge and education around nutrition plays a role in supporting positive health outcomes.

Colin is also hoping to run a short course in Raglan in the near future aimed at teaching people the basics of good cooking. Things like roasting a chicken without drying it out, creating basic salad dressings (so you don’t have to buy bottled dressings that are often overpriced and unhealthy), as well as learning how to eat local vegetables in season and in healthy, tasty and fun ways.

A busy man, who still runs his own catering business, Colin’s Kitchen, as well as his Pacific Islands resort consultancy business, during the launch Colin will be preparing small tasters of some of the recipes that have been featured in the cookbook. He invites the community to join him, to hear about the making of the book, ask questions about recipes and ingredients, tasting some of the recipes and have a Kana Vinaka time.

Kana Vinaka: Contemporary Island Cuisine is currently available to purchase from Kanuka Design as well as the Herbal Dispensary. The book will also be available to buy at the launch which will be held at the Raglan Sunset Motel Conference Room from 2pm Sunday, September 17. Colin will be available to sign books, so if you have already bought one please bring it along with you. Everyone welcome.