Buko pops up at Malamala

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Buko pops up at Malamala

I’ve met some truly remarkable chefs in my lifetime. From the old guard who have practised and refined classic French cuisine, to the farm-to-table movement who made me question the sources of our food, to those who inspired me down the path of ancestral flavours and ancient gastronomies. But a few years ago, I met a young Kiwi chef who reminded me a lot of myself when I first started out as a chef. With so much energy and enthusiasm for our industry and trade, he cast a big shadow over all those chefs I had met before.

Meet William Mordido. Born in New Zealand with Filipino heritage, he represents the future of professional cooking. His excitement for great food and its infinite possibilities is very infectious and his appearance at Malamala Beach Club next week will give a selection of young Fijian chefs the chance to understand his commitment and drive to make cooking sexy again.

Long sweaty nights, poor wages and often-unappreciative patrons, has made cooking a tough career choice anywhere in the world. However despite the challenges, Mordido says the positive aspects far outweigh the bad ones, and is coming to Fiji to share his outlook with our local chefs.

Chef to watch

He’s been named Restaurant Association NZ Chef of the Year, has been a NZ representative in the World Skills International Final in Leipzig Germany and his efforts saw him return home with a silver medal at the International Jeunes des Rôtisseurs Competition in Manchester, UK, a first for any NZ representative in over 40 years, says his website. In his early 20s, Mordido’s young career has already seen him work with some impressive establishments as assistant head chef of ‘Chiko’s Restaurant and Cafe’ in Auckland, with brief stints in Melbourne’s Vue De Monde and The Roving Marrow and has consulted for law firm giant Russell McVeaugh.

Most recently, Mordido was announced as a top 10 finalist in the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year and travelled to Melbourne to compete for the second time.

Buko comes to Fiji

‘Buko’ means young coconut in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines and is the name of his latest eatery. However you won’t find it at a fixed street address as Buko is a pop-up restaurant, popping up anywhere in the world. Mordido has successfully launched his concept in New Zealand and Melbourne, and next week brings his small team of chefs to showcase their style at Malamala Beach Club.

Mordido and I have joined forces to create a five-course fine dining menu that pays homage to his Philippines heritage but inspired by Fijian gastronomy and our local produce. In a first for any collaboration menu in Fiji, the young New Zealand and Fijian chefs will also experience our food culture with tours of the mountainous region of Ba to forage for ingredients and discover authentic rural Indian cuisine at a hosted farm.

The next day it’s off to catch their own fish for the menu on a charter with one of tourism’s newest sports adventures, ocean fly fishing. The produce will then be brought back to Malamala to create a seafood menu of two appetisers, one main course and two desserts. Mordido’s obsession with presentation shines most clearly in his desserts, as evidenced by his recent, sell-out dessert degustation in Auckland. When he asked what sort of food we should prepare for this three-day lunch event, my challenge to Mordido was clear. What would Fijian cuisine look like today if the Spanish, Dutch and Americans had colonised Fiji instead of the British and Australians, as they had done in his homeland of the Philippines? How would our food taste like today if they had combined their cultural gastronomy with our local produce?That’s the style of food I’d love to experience. Buko in Fiji.

?Chef William Mordido appears at Malamala Beach Club next Thursday, Friday and Saturday for a $75 five-course lunch. Bookings essential at www.malamalabeachclub.com

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