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Island News

Fine cooking with Ben

June 07
12:00 2008

image Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE . The fine art of cooking can be found in many places around the country.
One of those places is the Taunovo Bay Resort in Pacific Harbour where its artist is an executive chef named Ben Tedrick.
Ben is a talented professional cook who has mastered the fine art of being a chef after cooking for more than fourteen years.
He began work as executive chef of the resort in February this year.
Ben trained to become a cook for four years at the Hyatt Hotels in Australia.
As a resort chef, Mr Tedrick has several favorite dishes he loves to cook including chilli, ginger mud crab, whole baked baby snapper with Thai flavours and a trio of chocolate dessert.
“I like cooking food so when the quest gets it in front of them, they experience the WOW factor and when they take the first bite it tastes better than it looks,” said Mr Tedrick.
Ben started cooking from a young age when he cooked at home for his family.
When the opportunity arose for him to start an apprenticeship in the kitchen he jumped at the chance and later traveled all around the world to cook ever since. Mr Tedrick is very particular in getting the ingredients he needs for his guests and customers.
He is also mindful of how much ingredients are available.
“I think working in such an isolated place such as Fiji, you have to be very flexible with your menu and the ingredients you use, we change the menu every couple of weeks depending on what’s available in the market and in season and also to give variety to the guests.”
Taunovo Bay Resort is in the process of creating its own farm to supply its kitchen with all the organically grown foods needed for cooking.
“Also we are pretty lucky down here in Pacific Harbour; we have a local company ‘Gourmet Foods’ that supply all our fresh fish daily, smoked fish and organically grown lettuces and herbs.”
Throughout his career Mr Tedrick has come across some guests and customers who sometimes wished to make very specific changes to their served dish.
Mr Tedrick said as resort chef, it was a requirement to accommodate such guests, meet and fulfill their request and hopefully satisfy them.
The most difficult challenge that Chef Tedrick has faced in Fiji has been the ability to get the right supplies in on time.
Mr Tedrick said so many companies in the country had run out of particular ingredients. He also said that if some of the products were imported items it would take months to receive a supply again.
Mr Tedrick also discussed his long term plans for the future.
“Definitely, I see myself here for the long term and one day I will plan to open a restaurant with my wife Natalie who is the resort manager at Taunovo, probably in Suva as good quality restaurants there a few and far between.”
Mr Tedrick wanted to add to the Taunovo Bay resort menu with meals such as fresh truffles and Beluga Caviar but was just not ‘economicable’.
His job has taken him to different countries and Mr Tedrick had a bit to say on finding new ingredients in another country.
“What inspires a person is rocking up to a new country and seeing what different ingredients are there, what the locals do with it and then using your experience to come up with something that blends a little bit of the local cuisine with modern trends,” he said.
Ben was kind enough to share his secret for creating a Baked Passionfruit Cheese Cake with the ingredients that follow:
* 125g of Melted Butter
* 250g Sweet Biscuits (Scotch Fingers are Good)
* 1kg Cream Cheese
* 1 ½ Cups of Castor Sugar
* 100g Passionfruit Pulp
*1tsp Vanilla Essence
* 3 Eggs
* ½ Cup of Cream

Method
1. Blend Biscuits in a food Processor until it resemble bread crumbs, then add the butter that you have melted, Press into a spring form round a cake tin.
2. Blend Cream Cheese, Passion fruit, Vanilla and Sugar until Smooth (Make sure you take the cream cheese out of the fridge so it is at room temperature so it is easier and quicker to blend)
3. Add one Egg at a time still blending and then add cream.
4. Pour into mould and bake in the oven on 160 for 1 hour, allow it to cool in the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.
Ben had this one piece of advice to all future chefs of Fiji; “Just learn as much as you can off everyone because you can always learn even if it is just one thing off everybody. Always be punctual for work and there is no place for Fiji time in the kitchen because people don’t like waiting for food when they’re hungry.”

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