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Island News

From gardening to cooking

June 14
12:00 2008

image Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE . Ilaisa Kurimavua is a sous chef for Suva’s Tanoa Plaza who has mastered the professional cooking art in many of its forms. Unlike many professional chefs, Mr Kurimavua did not train at a cooking school, but learned the ways of the professional cook through carefully watching and learning from other professional chefs.
Mr Kurimavua has since been a cook for the last ten years and has worked at several hotels and resorts ever since.
“I didn’t do any official training, I just watched and learned from everyone else. Before cooking, I was just a gardener and now I’m working as a chef for these five star hotels” said Mr Kurimavua.
Since joining the Tanoa Plaza eight months ago, Mr Kurimavua has cooked up several first class dishes and said that he favours cooking vegetarian dishes at the most.
Mr Kurimavua also said that he had seen a multiple number of challenges during his time as a cook but has always tried to overcome each and every one of them.
He claims that he has not had any trouble with any guest or customer and that he’s biggest ambition at the present time is to become an executive chef one day.
“I like being a sous chef, but the executive chef is really the one who runs the show in the kitchen. It’s my dream to one day become an executive chef myself. That’s my goal” said Mr Kurimavua.
“I try my best to travel all over the place, I’ve worked in many five star hotels and resorts and in all those different places I learned how to cook a lot of different dishes. I’ve learned quickly that if you stay at one place, you only learn to cook only a certain number of dishes one way, but there are so many different menus in a lot of other places.”
Mr Kurimavua also has a small hope that somewhere down the line; he may own his own restaurant in the future.
During his eight months with the Tanoa Plaza, Mr Kurimavua said that there were a number of various dishes that he would like to cook for the guests and add to the Tanoa Plaza’s exclusive variety of foods.
Fortunately, he said that he had the honour of drawing up a new menu in the coming weeks and that he was going to add those dishes onto it.
One of those dishes is one he calls ‘Chicken Lover’ and Mr Kurimavua was generous enough to supply the recipe for the chicken lover dish.
Firstly the ingredients are
1. 1 Chicken breast
2. 100 grams of papaya
3. 10 grams of cashew nuts or brazil nuts
4. and 10 grams of cheese

The method of cooking this dish is so:
* Stuff the chicken breast and fill it with all the other ingredients.
* Break and whip mix two eggs
* Rub about 100 grams of flour on the chicken breast
* Dip the chicken breast in the egg blend
* Pan fry the chicken breast for about ten minutes
* Serve the chicken breast with mashed potatoes and vegetables along with creamy cheese sauce.
Mr Kurimavua said that he learned how to master the art of cooking from watching and learning from many chefs including the television cook, Neal Foon. In this final piece of advice he had, Mr Kurimavua said “If you want to be a chef or anything, you have to give your life to God and he will take you to your dreams. No matter if your education is not good, he will take you there. I use to be a gardener, but he took me and made me a chef.”

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