CAPTION: Chef Lance Seeto in a jovial mood after getting the award from Air Pacific chairman Nalin Patel. Photo: JOSEPHINE NAVULA.
An Australian chef has been awarded a Special Commendation for Marketing at the AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism 2012 awards in Nadi last night. Castaway Island Fiji’s Executive Chef, Lance Seeto, is the first foreign individual to be recognized by the tourism body for his achievements in marketing Fiji’s local food online, in print media and in his island restaurants. This is the first time an expatriate worker has been singled out for an award under the marketing category.
The celebrity chef has ignited a renaissance in cultural cuisine in Fiji, inspiring the country and other dining establishments to embrace organic produce and unique native flavours. In his opening address at the awards, Fiji Prime Minister, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, reiterated the importance of promoting and using local food and encouraged all tourism operators to share the same philosophy. Tourism Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, also included food in his address, saying that Fiji’s local cuisine is an integral part of the tourism experience.
Seeto’s Fijian Food Safari Facebook page has attracted more than 125,000 ‘likes’ reaching more than 2 million fans across the globe. His local cooking show “Taste of Paradise” is shown in ten countries across the South Pacific and became a huge hit in Fiji in 2012. Viewers learned how to prepare more nutritious foods using Asian techniques, and the health benefits of eating more herbs, coconut and organically grown foods. His regular columns in Fiji’s top selling newspapers and magazines are inspired by his four year food safari across the country’s islands and remote villages.
The popular Castaway Island chef will launch his first lifestyle cookbook “Coconut Bliss: inspiration and the foods of life from ancient Fiji” at the Paris World Cookbook Fair in March, and the world first Fijian-Asian restaurant on Castaway Island. Called Restaurant 1808, the name is a reference to the first year the Chinese arrived in Fiji. The exclusive Castaway Island menu embraces organic and non genetically modified foods with the distinct flavours of Asia and is expected to be an enormous hit with gourmet travellers to the country. Using mainly virgin coconut oil in his cooking, Seeto aims to show the world a more healthy and allergy-free way to eat, based on the traditional primal diet of the ancient Fijians.
“I have been inspired by the Fijian lifestyle and unique flavours found in traditional Fijian cooking that most gourmet travelers have never experienced” says the Aussie chef. Combined with his discovery and research that food allergies are not as prolific, and that the descendants of an ancient Austronesian race have a different genome, Seeto has embarked on a quest to promote a more primal diet without processed or GM foods including wheat.