Food revolution in the Pacific

posted: 6:00 pm - 10th May 2019
The co hosts of Pacific Islands Food Revolution. CREDIT Supplied.

(Picture caption: Pacific Islands Food Revolution host Chef Robert Oliver with his co-hosts for the TV series set in the Pacific.) 

The answer to the many issues affecting the Pacific lies within the region, particularly when it comes to health and well-being.  

Pacific Island Food Revolution (PIFR), developed by Kiwi Chef Robert Oliver and jointly funded by the New Zealand and Australian government, sets out to prove this. 

The world-renowned Chef heads the health education initiative tailored to audiences in the Pacific and is headlined by a "Masterchef-style" reality TV cooking competition, featuring contestants from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. 

This series is supported by digital campaigns such as an online academy, digital storytelling and social media activities to bring about food awareness and encourage positive eating behaviours, while tackling high rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) throughout the Pacific. 

Robert says the South Pacific is experiencing a crisis. 

“Non-communicable diseases are decimating Pacific Island populations due to poor food choices encouraged by massive marketing campaigns of fast foods,” he says. 

“These foods- sugary drinks, instant noodles and more are replacing the traditional diet of the South Pacific, causing devastating levels of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and heartbreak. 

“Where once Pacific populations used healthy, traditional foods to create their diet, a mindset of overseas food being better has all but eliminated them from today’s diets.” 

Robert was raised in Fiji and Samoa, and he holds the Pacific region close to his heart. 

For Robert, the answer to the crisis situation in the South Pacific has always been in the region, with the deep food knowledge that resides in every Pacific family and of course some of the best ingredients in the world. 

“Pacific Island Food Revolution aims to return pride to the healthy food that makes up the traditional diet of the South Pacific,” he says. 

“It takes the format of a reality television cooking competition, and uses it to reclaim the Pacific’s original cuisine.” 

Using a challenge style, this TV show highlights programmes, initiatives and individuals already doing this, and shine a spotlight on their work while showing viewers what’s possible when using traditional foods. 

“This is turning a mirror on Pacific culture itself and saying- actually, you have the answer. 

“This is not agenda- it is a joyful celebration of the Pacific itself.” 

The PIFR TV series has 12 episodes to be broadcast to more than 20 TV channels in Pacific Island countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia. 

It features three teams of local cooks, who are filmed in their countries as they compete for the chance to represent their nation at regional finals in Fiji.

Joining the PIDF Creator him on this food revolution, is a line-up of co-hosts from around the Pacific, includingPrincess Royal Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita from the Kingdom of Tonga; Fiji’s Dr Jone Hawea; Food entrepreneur Votausi Reur-Mckenzie from Vanuatu; Chef Dora Rossi from Samoa; while UNICEF Ambassador Pita Taufatofa and Olympian from Tonga, also joins the co-hosts for the finals. 

In-country launch events in participating countries of Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa have followed the official launch in Fiji in early April.   

The first episode of PIFR aired across the Pacific on April 11, and additionally, the PIFR team has also been busy creating digital food warriors around the Pacific. 

The team will provide training on digital storytelling later this year as well as online lessons related to each PIFR episode. 

You can sign up to become a Food Warrior via the PIFR website, and receive the best recipes, watch behind the scenes actions and gain insights from the Pacific’s most inspiring people. 

The initial pilot program will receive AUD$7million from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs - Innovation Xchange) and New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Aid Programme.

Already, Robert and his team are looking to film series two of PIFR, and applications are now open.

Auditions will be taking place in Samoa (May 8-9); Vanuatu (May 29-30); Tonga (June 12-13); and Fiji (July 24-25).

To apply, you need to be part of a team of two. Visit HERE for more information.