The Master of Military Meals
Food cooked with your own hand is said to be one of one of the greatest gifts you can give to those you love, even for a soldier. But the ones Lance Corporal Jope Rotavisoro loves best will have to wait a little while for a taste of his home cooking. Chef Rotavisoro, 25, from Nakorosule, Waimaro in Naitasiri , is a military chef with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces He is one of 54 men deployed to Rotuma a few weeks ago for 13 months. He was brought up by his single mother until she married again and he became the eldest of six children. Those early years with his mum originally triggered his love of cooking. “After my parents separated, I spent a lot of time helping my mother out at home and cooking was one of my favourite jobs,” he said. “I used to watch her and I guess I picked up some of her traits in the kitchen that I now apply in my work. No-one is born a great cook but one learns by doing and I am still learning – every day.” Rotavisoro attended Nasautoka District Primary and Wainibuka Secondary schools, later following his passion for cooking at Service Pro, a local hospitality school. “I ended up in the military because I did most of my practical courses in camp and I was lucky they took me in.” Rotavisoro has been a chef with the RFMF’s Logistic Support Unit (LSU) for the past five years. He was chosen for deployment to Rotuma with the Rural Development Squadron of the Engineer Regiment. “Cooking for 53 people is a small number for me, I have catered for 200 people in camp and once for 600 people at a private function.” Life as a chef in the military has its challenges, however, especially at times when rations run out and Rotavisoro has to find ways and means to cook for his hungry troops. “But my brothers here are very resilient
people, I know if there comes a day in Rotuma when we run out, we will escape to the sea to fish – and there are abundant root crops here that I believe locals will be happy to supply us with.” He said some of the men come into the kitchen to help him chop vegetables and other ingredients, which lightens his workload.Yet Rotavisoro is the first one to wake up and last one to sleep because he has to prepare the first and last meals of the day. “And yes, I am the last to eat at meal times.” Newlywed Rotavisoro has left behind in Fiji his wife, Sereana Nuku, eight months pregnant with their first child.. “We don’t know yet if it is a boy or girl but are happy with whatever God blesses us with.” He would “give an arm or a leg to be able to witness the birth of my first child”. But if his comrades have made the sacrifice to be deployed far from home, he feels he can do the same. “I am grateful I have a very understanding and caring wife in Sereana. Before I left she assured me not to worry
Lance Corporal Jope Rotavisoro in his area of work.
Lance Corporal Jope Rotavisoro (in green tshirt) with his comrades in Rotuma.
Hungry troops enjoy their first meal of the day in Rotuma before they start a hard day’s work.