Over the next week or so four local chefs will team up with their overseas counterparts, some of whom arrived yesterday. Today we profile our four local chefs:
Adriane Clarke-Ellis was born on Rarotonga and comes from a family who love to eat good food. She spent much time in the kitchen with her mother learning about various food, as well as helping her prepare modern cuisine to satisfy her father’s high culinary standards. Clarke-Ellis and her husband purchased the Islander Hotel in May 2014 and she was put into the main kitchen to improve food standards and cuisine. In 2016 she completed her Diploma in Culinary Arts at Cook Islands Trade Training Institute(CITTI) and mastered the art of professional cookery with a specialisation in sauces and flavours. In 2016, Clarke-Ellis won a Silver Medal in the Cook Islands Chef of the Year 2016 competition organised by the CITTI, beating tough competition from other leading restaurants and hotels on Rarotonga.
She has been invited to attend as an “Observer Judge – Culinary Salon” at the New Zealand Hospitality Championships to be held from August 11 to 14 this year.
Karlene Taokia is a tutor at CITTI. Born in Auckland, Taokia trained at Manukau Insititute of Technology before working in varioius places around New Zealand. She has cooked in towns near the bottom of the South Island (Otamatata) right up to the Bay of Islands in Northland. She’s also worked at the Aotea Centre in Auckland. For a number of years before moving home with her husband and three children, she was head chef at Cafe Jazz in Remuera, Auckland. Until recently she was manager of Reefside Cafes. Taokia is also the current president of the Cook Islands Chef’s Association.
Rangi Mitaera also trained and developed her cooking craft in New Zealand. She had to work extremely hard, but it all paid off. She features in the internationally-acclaimed cookbook Me’a Kai and has also held just about every role there is to have in the food and beverage and hospitality industry.
In 1995 she came home, and the craft honed in New Zealand has since been blended with the ingredients available on often isolated islands, with rare visits from ships bringing store goods. This restriction has led to an exciting array of dishes that titillate the tastebuds.
Whilst Rangi lives in Rarotonga now, her family hails from Manihiki, where she and her husband own and operate a pearl farm. It’s where they’ve made “making do” an artform. They raise pigs and make their own bacon and sausages, they have run their own poultry farm and despite the isolation have still been able to enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast. She has created dishes using the local reef, lagoon and deepsea fish. The fruit of the highly versitile coconut tree features in her cuisine.
Sam Timoko has both New Zealand and Cook Islands Maori ancestry. Sam has spent the last three decades working with food. He’s traipsed across five continents and in every country he’s studied their food culture. He’s the sort of guy who, if you gave him something potentially edible, would inevitably think of a way to prepare and serve it.
Timoko teaches Culinary Arts at the local high school and CITTI. He runs his own catering business and is an acclaimed Culinary Arts Judge; but he puts his own skills to the test too by representing both New Zealand and the Cook Islands at international cooking competitions and food festivals.
He is particularly passionate about Polynesian food and creations made from homegrown ingredients, using traditional techniques.
These four will each be teamed up with one of the visiting chefs over the next week, sharing knowledge and skills, learning and teaching along the way.