Island News

Tagi’s passion for cooking

Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU. Cooking, baking, catering, you name it, is a passion shared by so many with some really embracing it so close to their heart. One such
23 Aug 2008 12:00

Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU. Cooking, baking, catering, you name it, is a passion shared by so many with some really embracing it so close to their heart.
One such person is 22-year-old Tagilala Volaisaya of Nukuni Village in Ono-i-Lau who is a student of the Fiji Institute of Technology’s Hotel and Catering School in Nasese.
Tagilala said cooking and baking has been a passion of his since he was a child and this was way before he even joined the hospitality school.
“I learnt to cook at a very early age and surprisingly I grew to love it and many years later now, I still have that passion to learn new dishes as if it was yesterday,” Tagilala said.
“Both my parents worked and my only sister was living in Suva at that time, so the cooking task was left up to me and little did I know that I grew to love it.”
Tagi as he is commonly known said even when the family moved to Suva, the responsibility of cooking was left to him and it became almost an everyday chore, but it was something that he looked forward to.
Tagi said when he finished from High School, his parents wanted him to do other things, but somehow he ended up enrolling at FIT.
“When I completed my Form Six education, I applied to FIT to join the school of hospitality in Nasese and there has been no looking back for me from there,” Tagi said.
“It is such a wonderful feeling to learn so many new things and then try it out at the same time.”
He said learning and trying and failing with different dishes is part and parcel of being in Catering School.
“That’s what it’s all about. You learn to cook new dishes and at the same time you have to attempt it and sometimes you fail.
“But when you do get it right, it is such an awesome feeling and no one can ever describe that high that you get when you pass,” said Tagi.
He said experimenting with different dishes is one reason he loves cooking and testing different recipes and waiting for the end result is another reason he loves what he’s doing.
“I’ve helped cook for different family occasions and it’s always a thrill to sit with relatives and cook and prepare during functions,” Tagi said.
“When we all sit down together and help out, it’s more fun and I also get to really enjoy what I’m doing.’
Tagi said that baking tops the list in his world of cooking.
“I love baking. You name it, from pies to cakes and whatever else you can make using flour,” he said.
“I’ve become so used to baking; I don’t even measure some of the ingredients that I have to use. It just comes naturally to me and the end result is always perfect.”
Tagi said that he’s baked for so many occasions, mainly family functions and it’s always good to see people’s reaction when they’ve tasted my baking.
“I get orders to bake birthday cakes and even wedding cakes.
“Mainly, I bake for family functions and even village functions and I must say that I always enjoy every moment of it,” he said.
Tagi said catering outside of school is quite thrilling because he gets to showcase what he’s learnt from inside the school walls.
“You wouldn’t believe the things that we learn at Catering and it’s always nice to be able to come outside of the school walls and try out the new dishes I’ve learnt.
“You know when you try to cook those dishes you learn from school, there isn’t much pressure to do your best because you know you won’t be graded for it. But still you try to do your best,” Tagi said.
Tagi said when it comes to cooking, you have to put your all into it and the end result is always perfect.
He said the nothing would ever beat the satisfaction on people’s faces when you know they’ve enjoyed the meal you’ve just cooked.
“Your heart beats an extra beat when you know and see that people have enjoyed your cooking and it makes you want to try a little bit harder the next time around,” Tagi said. He said he wants to open a catering business someday, but for now, he’s just looking forward to completing his studies, graduating and finding a job.
“My dream is to open up my own catering business someday and I remain hopeful that will happen sooner rather than later.
“But for now, its school and studies and maintaining my grades to help open the doors to that dream,” said Tagi. He said all that he has achieved so far couldn’t have been made possible without his parents help and his faith in God.
“God has been my guide and mentor. That’s number one and will always be.
“But my parents love and support has been nothing but overwhelming and for that I’m always thankful,” he said.
“My mother has been a huge pillar of strength for me. She is forever supporting me in “every decision I make.”
He also attributes some of his achievements to his practical tutor, Mr Bari.
“He has a wealth on knowledge about food and it’s always nice to learn new things everyday.”
Tagi hopes to graduate in March next year and hopes the opportunity to get a job would come his way, but for now, he’s just satisfied being a student, learning the trade and practicing it.
Here is Tagilala’s recipe for chicken stew:

l 1 kg chicken pieces (he prefers buying the ones from MH Superfresh)
l 1 tablespoon soy sauce (marinate to chicken)
l 1 tea spoon sugar (add to marinated chicken)
l Pounded garlic and ginger
l 1 teaspoon oil
l 2 pinch salt
l 2 carrots sliced
l 1 onion
l Potatoe (not compulsory)
l Tomatoes
l Celery
l Capsicum
l Corn Flour
l ½ cup water

l Heat oil in a pot
l Add garlic, ginger and onions
l Fry until golden brown
l Add chicken and stir for a few minutes
l Add carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, celery and capsicum
l Add salt according to taste
l Let it simmer for a few minutes and add water.
l Thicken the dish by adding corn flour.

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