In a first for New Zealand publishing, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific has been named the Best Cookbook in the World for 2010 at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
NZTourism Research Institute (NZTRI) member, chef at large and author Robert Oliver together with Tracy Berno beat off stiff competition from NOMA – one of the most talked about cookbooks of the year - and the New York Times Cookbook to take out the top prize.
In May last year, AUT’s Four Seasons Restaurant launched the book with publisher Random House.
New Zealand-born, Fiji-raised Robert Oliver went back to the Pacific Islands to rediscover
the art of Pacific cooking. He travelled to Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands to
track down the most skilled local cooks and adapted their recipes for the modern kitchen.
The result was more than just a recipe book; it covers Oliver’s journey through the islands and his fascinating encounters with local cooks and food producers.
The book has a clear mission: to support sustainable tourism in the South Pacific. All too often in Oliver’s career and travels he saw that local growers and producers were missing out on supplying the large tourist resorts and hotels.
As a member of NZTRI, Robert works in the Pacific Islands programme area with research around sustainable economic development through tourism and the links between tourism and the economy.
Publisher, Nicola Legat, says the book has been hailed as a breakthrough in the Pacific, and of which local people are intensely proud.
“It’s a book that argues that if this food was celebrated and offered more, then the Pacific would experience a rise in economic activity and sustainability.”
Gourmand World Cookbook awards
AUT's NZ Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI)
AUT launches Me'a Kai