Rodney Ngatikao has been a chef for more than 15 years now but he still remembers his first job working in McDonald’s where his journey began.
Ngatikao’s passion for cooking has seen him working at a number of restaurants around Rarotonga but now he’s finally got a business to call his own.
Together with his partner Kirimoke Rakei they have built their own café from scratch with the help of their dads, William Humphreys and Henry Rakei, and friends Kahiki Garnier and Mark Sherwin.
DRJ’s café – named after their six-year old son DeArchjay Ngatikao – is now open for business.
“We have built this business for our kids, so they can have financial freedom,” says Rodney Ngatikao.
Ngatikao is serving up their popular double beef burger with chips, which taste almost exactly like a McDonald’s Big Mac.
Other popular meals they make include the American cheese burger and fresh sandwiches and salads.
The double beef burger has been attracting so many customers, Ngatikao says he has been grilling up to 60 burgers in a day.
“It’s all about the flavour,” says Ngatikao, who uses spices, herbs and nuts to make his salads fresh and flavoursome.
"Our double beef burger tastes like a McDonald's Big Mac but better."
Rakei’s five years’ experience working as a barista has paid off: she’s making hot and iced coffees all day done at the café.
They are also making homemade pies, sausage rolls, cinnamon rolls, cheese bread and cakes.
But there’s more to come for DRJ’s café with plans to expand the kitchen and add a pizza oven.
DRJ’s is located in the Kiikii area, and is open from 7am until 2pm, Monday to Friday.
Is the DRJ burger Cook Islands’ answer to McDonald’s?
We ask Cook Islands News’ panel of top in-house experts:
“Just like a Big Mac, only bigger!” – Chris
“I think it was the crunchy lettuce and gherkins that first reminded me of the taste of a McDonald’s Big Mac, but it was beef patties that were well-cooked that got me hooked.” – Anneka
“It’s much better than a McD’s burger. At DRJ’s the bread has bite, and the hamburger patty is juicy and flavoursome – unlike McDonald’s grey slivers of flaccid tyre-rubber. The only similarity is that unfortunate reliance on too much sweet mustard-mayo sauce.” – Jonathan
“I think it’s the pickle that gives the DRJ’s café burger the McDonald’s taste.” – Rashneel