Kitchen Who

Island Life - - Contents -

Aset of lovely glass bot­tles filled with con­tents of a deep red colour sits pret­tily in a line on the kitchen counter. “You came at the right time, I am just fin­ish­ing bot­tling,” Kandy tells me as she pushes cork tops into the glass bot­tles. “What is in­side?” I ask. “This is ‘Mum’s Tomato Sauce’, made with my mother’s recipe,” she replies. It looks ter­rific, thick and bright red, made with lo­cal toma­toes from the mar­kets, a ‘gift of na­ture’ all bot­tled up and pre­pared with love, ready to reach other kitchen coun­ters around the is­land. “Ev­ery­thing is or­ganic, fresh and nat­u­ral. We use lo­cal pro­duce and what­ever is in sea­son. We do not use any preser­va­tives, it is made just like your mum would, the old way, us­ing oil, vine­gar and sugar as the pre­serv­ing in­gre­di­ents.” Orig­i­nally from Van­u­atu, Kandy moved to New Zealand at the age of five. As a chef, she has worked in many kitchens around the world, from Lon­don to NZ and France, re­fin­ing her fine cook­ing skills and lov­ing the cre­ative and ge­o­graph­i­cal ex­plo­ration that many Chefs en­joy through their ca­reers. It was in a res­tau­rant back in New Zealand, that she first started to experiment mak­ing dif­fer­ent pre­serves. About six years ago, she de­cided to re­turn to Van­u­atu and took the po­si­tion of Head Chef at Ratua Is­land where she spent the next year get­ting their menu and kitchen or­gan­ised. For the past four years, she has been the Head Chef at lovely up­mar­ket Eratap Re­sort. “I have al­ways wanted to run my own busi­ness, so af­ter six years back in Van­u­atu, I thought it was time to give it a go.” She took the plunge and de­cided to start her own cater­ing com­pany and range of deli prod­ucts. The cater­ing side of Kandy’s Kitchen is noth­ing if not dy­namic. She can cater for four peo­ple look­ing for fine din­ing and an elab­o­rate five-course meal or for large func­tions of up to 80 peo­ple. “I have catered for small lunch par­ties, some of them very ca­sual, even BBQ style and oth­ers much more for­mal with high-class cui­sine. We can also take care of big­ger func­tions with a se­lec­tion of hot and cold canapés and mini desserts,” she ex­plains. er range of pre­serves is in its in­fancy and some of the cur­rent prod­ucts avail­able are lovely ‘Cu­cum­ber Pickle’,

‘Mango Chut­ney’, the spicy ‘Chilli Jam’ and ‘Chilli Paste’, ‘Bal­samic Onions’, the pop­u­lar ‘Mum’s Tomato Sauce’ and ‘Ar­chad’, a mix of cur­ried veg­eta­bles which is great with meals such as steak. Her ‘Is­land Muesli’ is made with lo­cal fruit that Kandy dries her­self and is regularly sold-out be­fore it hits the shelves. “This is the be­gin­ning of the range and we will be ex­pand­ing and adding many sea­sonal prod­ucts. I have just made a great mango coulis and when the rasp­berry sea­son comes around again, we will be cre­at­ing some rasp­berry pre­serves.” The pre­serves and deli prod­ucts are also very rea­son­ably priced, so if you think this could be more than you can af­ford, think again. T here is a great deal of cre­ativ­ity in­volved in cook­ing and mak­ing good food and Kandy has drawn a lot of in­spi­ra­tion from a cu­ri­ous lit­tle book called “Is­land Recipes”. The book, pub­lished by the Bri­tish Red Cross in 1947, is a col­lec­tion of recipes from South Pa­cific is­lands. “I love this lit­tle book, it has ‘real’ recipes, from the South Pa­cific, us­ing the best of lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. One of the recipes is from my grand­mother, which was how the book came into my hands.” Kandy is fourth gen­er­a­tion ‘woman-santo’. Her great-grand­fa­ther was a Ja­panese man who mar­ried a woman-santo back in the day, and from then on, the Santo blood line con­tin­ued to the present. I ask Kandy her grand­mother’s name. “Lili Stevens” she says, “you know the Stevens in Santo?” I lived in Santo for a few years so I rack my brains try­ing to think if I know ‘the Stevens’. “No, I don’t think I know the Stevens,” I fi­nally say. Kandy gives me a look of slight dis­be­lief. I feel I should know these peo­ple. “The Stevens”, she re­peats, “in Fanafo?” she says. I get it then. “You mean the Jimmy Stevens, Stevens?” “Yes, yes,” she says “My grand­mother, Lili Stevens, was the sis­ter of Jimmy Stevens.” Well there you are, pre­serves that are not only de­li­cious but come with a rich his­toric past! Which re­minds me of why I love Van­u­atu so much. Whole­some, or­ganic, nat­u­ral, hand-made and im­bued with tra­di­tion, just like Van­u­atu, Kandy’s Kitchen is a real gem. So what next? Well, if you can keep a se­cret just be­tween you and I, Kandy has just fin­ished her very own cook­book, which bar­ring any dis­as­ters, should be avail­able around now.

Kandy’s Kitchen range of deli prod­ucts is avail­able at Li­ba­tion, on Nam­batu and at Or­ganic Par­adise in the Van­u­atu Hand­i­craft Mar­ket. For cater­ing and other info, con­tact Kandy on [email protected], Ph +678 7735602, kandys-kitchen.com.

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