One of Samoa’s leading chefs, Dora Laura Elisiana Rossi, is the co-host of the Pacific Island Food Revolution: a reality television style cooking competition with a Pacific flavour. The restaurateur behind Paddles Restaurant and Milani Caffè joined forces with celebrity chef Robert Oliver last year to make the Samoan set of a 12-part show, which spans the Pacific highlighting healthy, local and traditional food.
A lover of good food herself, Ms Rossi said getting on board the project felt natural.
“I create menus for both businesses utilising fresh, organic produce straight from our Samoan farms,” she said.
“I love the opportunity to be able to create demand through my menus, resulting in steady income for local farming families.”
Both Paddles and Milani are supplied by local organic farmers under the “Farm to table” initiative created by Women in Business Development Incorporated (W.I.B.D.I) and Robert Oliver in 2013. The co-founder and executive director of WIBDI, Adimaimalaga (Adi) Tafuna’i features in the episode sharing her vision for good food.
Mr Oliver partners with a different food expert across Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu in Fiji. Ms Rossi was his pick for Samoa, a country they both call home. She said this is an opportunity to showcase Samoa.
“[The show] shines a bright light on local cuisine knowledge, highlighting the fact that the answer to good health lies in Samoa’s local and fresh indigenous foods,” she said.
“We want people to see that everything we need to lead healthy lives is in our plantations and our local markets.”
Ms Rossi lived much of her live in Italy eating a Mediterranean diet. She said she considers herself a great advocate for healthy eating.
“I grew up on Mediterranean diet, abundant in fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, so I feel right at home in Samoa where the fresh bounty of organic products is plentiful.
“I rarely consume processed foods and prefer to choose local organic crops – you really are what you eat!”
The show, with its undertones of radical thinking about turning away from processed foods and defending the population from preventable lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension tries to show people how easy it is to change the way they eat.
Food can be simple, Ms Rossi said. Healthy doesn’t mean complicated.
“Our local cooks are just like you, struggling with ideas of what to cook every day, wanting to feed their families a healthy and nutritious meal without breaking the bank.
“The cooks in this show create Samoan soul food prepared with natural skill.