Samoans usually identify friendship with food.
So what better way to commemorate friendship week than with some of the best restaurants in Samoa putting together mouth watering dishes.
The 2016 Restaurant Challenge is an ongoing initiative by the New Zealand High Commission to commemorate the signing of the friendship treaty between Samoa and NZ.
Between the 5th and the 15th of August, participating restaurants put up new dishes for judging; the dishes have to fuse together both NZ and Samoan ingredients.
According to event organizer, Lupe Kapisi, this year’s challenge has seen some amazing dishes which tastes and looks spectacular.
“This year we’ve probably had more participants compared to previous years,” she said.
“We’ve had 15 participants all together and so far the competition has been really really close; we have been really impressed with the taste and the presentation of the food.
“Just the amount of effort that has gone into creating these dishes has really impressed us all.”
But how did this all start?
“We have the restaurant challenge every year and this is part of friendship week,” Mrs. Kapisi said.
“So we started that as part of Samoa celebrating its 50th independence and we’ve continued that since then.
“So basically what the restaurant challenge is is where all the participating restaurants create a dish where they’ll put on their menu and will be the friendship week special.
“The dishes will be made from a fuse of Samoan and New Zealand ingredients and the diners who come in and order the dish could get a score card and vote; the diners who vote will go into the draw to win a few different prizes.
“We also have a panel of judges who go around to each participating restaurant to do a tasting and scoring of the dishes.”
The judges will hold a lot of weight in terms of deciding which dish is the best but the individual diners will also have a big part to play.
“A lot of the decision making relies on the judges’ score cards but individual diner score cards are just as important,” Mrs. Kapisi said.
“We put all the scores on spreadsheet where we match what the diners score alongside the judges’ comments of the dish.”
According to Mrs. Kapisi, there has been a lot of chefs aiming to create seafood dishes and every restaurant so far has successfully fused the different ingredients perfectly.
“There is no specific ratio in regards to the Samoan and New Zealand ingredient fuse,” she said.
“A lot of the restaurants do go for a New Zealand Protein such as lamb, muscles and they add Samoan ingredients.
“We’ve had a lot of Salmon dishes so far this year; sea food in general has been the frequent dish choice by a lot of the chefs.”
But how will the restaurants benefit from such a challenge?
“We do a lot of promotions for the restaurants,” Mrs. Kapisi said.
“From the feedback we’ve gotten from a lot of the restaurants is that a lot of people come in and want to try the dish; they make the effort to go to more than one restaurant to try the different dishes.
“There’s a lot of promotion for all the restaurants themselves.”