22 May 2014

Samoa cookbook a recipe for success

7:41 pm on 22 May 2014

A cookbook that celebrates Samoan cuisine has won a top international award.

New Zealand chef Robert Oliver's Mea'ai Samoa - Recipes from the Heart of Polynesia won the Gourmand Award for best TV chef cookbook in the world for 2013.

The Gourmand Awards handed out in a ceremony in Beijing on Wednesday are considered the Oscars for cookbooks. This year there were finalists from 187 countries.

Mr Oliver said the award signals that Samoan cuisine has truly arrived on the world stage.

"Samoa is a small nation with a big story, because at the heart of its cuisine is the amazing fact that this small country in the South Pacific has close to 1000 organic family farms, thanks to a brilliant local women's group called Women in Business Development, and I want to thank them first for letting me be a part of their family.

"By presenting the real people and culture behind the food, we have a winning formula."

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said Mr Oliver had taken Samoan food from the villages and transformed them so they can be served at hotels and restaurants.

"What he has done has recorded and elevated our food culture, our organic farmers and our country. We are both proud and grateful to him."

The winning cookbook accompanies Mr Oliver's cooking show Real Pasifik made by New Zealand company Zoomslide.

Filming has begun for a second series to be shown in New Zealand later this year. The first series is now being shown throughout the Pacific.

The Gourmand Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau from the French family famous for the Remy Martin brand and for establishing the international Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.

Second place in the TV chef cookbook awards went to another New Zealander, Nadia Lim, for Nadia's Good Food Cookbook and other finalists included Oprah Winfrey's chef Art Smith.

Mr Oliver's debut cookbook Me'a Kai - the Food and Flavours of the Pacific won the main award in 2010 for best cookbook in the world.