Island News

Ricky takes chances in the kitchen

Written By : Nandika Chand . No job is big or small for a person who has set his heart and mind to achieving something in life. Youths always take
23 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : Nandika Chand . No job is big or small for a person who has set his heart and mind to achieving something in life.
Youths always take for granted the comfort and the luxury of their homes not taking into regard that there are people who don’t have a roof over their heads.
Ricky Mani, 25, the head chef of Smugglers Cove Resort in Nadi, has struggled most of his life to get to where he is today.
Looking back at his life, Ricky recalls how he has struggled to become someone in life and earn a living for his family.
He says it all feels like a dream and he knows it in his heart how much he has endured.
“Life is fun to live when there are a lot of challenges to go through because it makes you tough and competent,” Ricky said.
“It is no use when there is everything in front of you and you do not give care for it,” he said.
“There are many young people who have all the comforts of life and do not have to sweat for it,” he said.
Ricky said he grew up in Sigatoka and went to school until Form Two at Nadroga Sangam School.
He said he did not go complete his high school education because his parents were facing financial constraints and they could not afford to send him to school.
“I did not mind not going to school, because I knew the hardships we were facing and was determined to do something for my family,” Ricky said.
“We are family of three brothers and a sister and I am the second eldest,” he said.
“For the first couple of years, I stayed home and did a few odd jobs as no one was ready to employ or hire a small boy,” he said.
“I remember when I first got myself a job as a kitchen hand in a fast food restaurant in Sigatoka,” he said.
“I was very happy and was contend with the pay of $20 per week I got because I did not have the qualifications nor the experience,” he said.
“Working in the kitchen was not new to me, as I loved cooking and grabbed the opportunity to cook whenever I got the chance,” he said.
“After school I always used to rush back home and prepare my family sandwiches and snacks,” he said.
“In the weekends I used to help my mother in cooking and tried my hands on new dishes and recipes,” he said.
Ricky said after a year of working in the restaurant he joined a construction company.
He said he then worked in a garment factory and then again in the construction industry, security company and in the supermarket.
“I got another opportunity to work in a restaurant as a kitchen hand and did not let this second chance slip out of my fingers,” Ricky said.
It was during his second time around as a kitchen hand that Ricky first got to use a potatoe peeler.
“It was a fun experience as I first peeled the skin on my fingers rather than the potatoes! From then I learnt to use the peeler,” he said.
“As a kitchen hand I also got hands on experience to prepare and make some dishes,” he said.
“One day a European man approached me and thanked me for the food I had cooked and also gave a tip,” he said.
“He also told me to come to him if I ever needed help or advice,” he added.
Ricky said he left the job because the pay was not good as he was having difficulties paying for travelling expenses.
He said he got another opportunity to work in a wine and dine restaurant to work as a cook.
“Life was very much a struggle for me and I was just taking each day as it came,” Ricky said.
“I got another grand opportunity to work at Smugglers Cover as a cook and now after two years of working here I am the head chef,” he said.
“When I look back now, I see the challenges and hurdles I have faced in life as a stepping stone to my success,” he said.
“My family are very proud of me as I have made a name for myself in the community,” he added.
Ricky said he is also taking a course up with the Australian Pacific Technical College (APTC) to get a certificate in cookery.
He said he was grateful to the Australian Government for a scholarship to fulfill his dream.
“I am happy that I will be able to complete a course and get a certificate in the field that I specialize in” Ricky said.
“I think that there is nothing impossible for people once they set their heart and mind towards achieving their dream and ambitions,” he said.
“No work is too small or too big and one must never compare themselves and their work with others,” he said.
“A person should also be content with whatever they have and live life to the fullest with no regret,” he added.
Ricky said apart from cooking he loves to listen to his favorite songs, playing soccer and fishing with his friends.
He says in five to ten years time he sees himself in the position of an executive chef and operating and managing his very own restaurant.

5SQRS Clearance

Fiji Sun Instagram