The future is bright for twelve Grassroots Culinary trainees who celebrated sweet success at Taumeasina Island Resort on Wednesday night.
The grand occasion marked the completion of a 12-week traineeship with some of the best restaurants in Samoa where they learnt the skills to secure them a long-term career in the Culinary Arts.
Among the graduates were Lauagaia Fagamea, Ian Ioka, Laupa’u Leaupepe, Roger Meke, Rosie Meke, Pito Nikolao, Fabian Pritchard, Lino Simona, Shon So’i, Matapo’o Talavou, Sinivatutasi Elia and Tuputau Tuisamoa.
The programme is designed to create employment for youth who have no formal training or experience in working a commercial kitchen. It is also to fill the gap in the industry for kitchen staff.
Associate Minister of Tourism, Fagaivalu Kenrick Samu, congratulated the graduates.
“Over the past couple of years there has been a huge growth in the hospitality industry with the opening of more hotels, cafes and restaurants,” Fagaivalu said.
“I am happy to know that it’s not only youth from the town areas that have this opportunity, with trainees from Lotofaga, Manono-Tai and even one from Savai’i.
“I hope there will be more from the big island in the next intake.”
The Associate Minister also congratulated the Samoa Culinary Association.
“Samoa is still very much in its infancy in tourism development and I congratulate the Samoa Culinary Association for helping nurture the future,” he said. “To the graduates, you are the future.”
The event was a proud moment for the President of the Samoa Culinary Association, Joe Lam and his hardworking crew.
With support from members of the industry, he said they are assisting the graduates to secure jobs together with A.P.T.C.
This is the first training of its kind in Samoa and has so far been well received by the industry. The Grass Roots Culinary Training programme is supported by U.N.D.P through the M.W.C.S.D Youth Employment Programme, the New Zealand High Commission, the Tindall Foundation, and the Samoa Culinary Association.
Among the graduates was 25-year-old Lino Simona from Faga, Savai’i. He was a proud man.
The fifth child of nine boys, Lino said he was groomed to cook from a very young age.
“The fact I have no sister means I grew up doing both male and female jobs around the house,” he said.
“So I used to cook all the time, for my parents and my family. I guess you can say that my passion for cooking developed when I was young. I learnt some basic recipes from my mother like lu’au ulo, falai elegi and others and that helped fanned the flame in me a lot.”
Lino left school in Savai’i to look after his parents.
“Personally my goal is to look after my parents before anything else in this life, but my mother challenged me one day to look out for other opportunities in life,” he said.
“That’s why I ended up in enrolling in this programme. The main reason is the fact that there’s no one employed to support my family financially. Yes we have food and a plantation but there’s always a need for money.”
As for the training, he believes the last 12-weeks has prepared him well for the demands of the industry.
“It’s been an eye-opener,” he said. “Learning new techniques, methods of cooking, recipes, ideas of design, I can say that I have finally learnt some of the basics in how to serve in something I am passionate about.
“For now, I’m looking for a job to help my family and continue on in my education.”
His dream is to become a professional chef.
“After this programme, my love for food has grown. I also now know what working means.”
So what’s next?
“I’m still going to work hard to get become a professional chef and work with all my heart to make people smile all the time when they eat my food.”
Lino can be contacted on 724-0020 if anyone is keen to hire him.