Our TEDxSuva Team want you to meet this year’s innovative caterers for our event. The two 30something year olds both started their own food business within months of each other, fusing local ingredients and methods with new ideas.
The first is Niu Grillz – a somewhat boutique smoked and grilled meats business. Owner Sikipio Fihaki learnt how to cook from his mum, who helped him fall in love with good food and local flavours. Coupled with his Tri-Pacific (Fijian, Tongan &Samoan) heritage, he has always had a knack for experimenting with different flavours and tastes, pushing the boundaries of local cuisine.
Sikipio first dabbled with smoking meat using an old school 30 litre beer keg cut into half. A year ago he converted a 120-gallon Gas cylinder into a working smoker, using only instinct and the Internet, and then began the real experimentation. It was a labour of love and many trials and tribulations – which wood gave the best smoke? Which parts of a coconut can be used to manipulate the flavour? Which combination of rubs go with what meat, which local fruits make the best marinade? How much smoke before the pork turns unpalatable! Basically everything had to be self-taught – and it paid off.
Niu Grillz now has a growing clientele in Suva and Nadi, that usually finds him at one of the local markets like the RoC Market, every month or place orders on weekends and special occasions. Sikipio wants to continue creating good food but also help develop a deeper love and taste for smoked meats across the country.
“Niu is Pacific: it’s a coconut at the start of its life, it’s something new created with the Pacific spirit, it’s mana. There are so many flavours here that remain untapped. I want people to go beyond the everyday BBQs and appreciate smoked and grilled food,” he said.
Kaicolo Food Company began with similarly organic roots with owner Peter Navavia wanting to find a way to come home from New Zealand and use locally sourced products to bring new flavours to Fiji. After working in exclusive restaurants and studying Hospitality Management, Peter wanted to find a way to re-introduce international flavours at home which has begun with his growing selection of dips and spreads like hummus and accompanying homemade breads.
His dream is to expand Kaicolo Food Co. so every product he uses can be locally sourced and hopes to be able to create his own cheeses like feta and mozzarella from Fiji.
“Introducing international flavours into the marketplace makes this a challenge right now but my dream is to use completely locally sourced products and I want to be a part of the group that makes this happen,” he said.
A collaboration between the two was inevitable considering they have been friends for over 2 decades now, having met in primary school. Both young entrepreneurs are helping change the face of local cuisine, and work together bouncing new ideas off of each other – pushing the boundaries of food and its flavours. This will be especially evident in the menu they have put together exclusively for the first TEDxSuva event.