Using cuisine as an effective development tool

As a Kiwi chef working in the development space throughout the Pacific region he was raised in and loves, Robert says he is the one who is being “developed” in the process. His passion to learn about the Pacific, its people, their cultures and their cuisines comes from within. “I was raised in Fiji and Samoa … many of my close friends still live there, and I would do anything to help these countries out,” Robert says. Having worked all around the world, from developing restaurants in New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Sydney, “farm to table” resorts in the Caribbean and food programmes feeding homeless people and African immigrants with AIDS in New York City, Robert is back in the Pacific to develop agribusiness and agritourism through raising awareness about traditional cuisine, and by encouraging local chefs to use local products in the hospitality industry. He sees chefs as key actors in the tourism chain, and along with the cuisine they produce, help contribute to a place’s local identity. “Food underpins relationships, food brings communities together,” Robert says. “It is the tourist led industry that local farmers are trying to reach, and what will connect tourism and agriculture is cuisine.”


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