Akshay Kumar – Chef de cuisine at SHERATON SAMOA AGGIE GREYS HOTEL & BUNGALOWS At Samoa
Akshay Kumar is the Chef de cuisine at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows at Samoa. A very interesting article about working in paradise.
After a great chef career, you work today as Chef de cuisine at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows at Samoa. How did your chef career started/ what motivated you to become a chef?
My name is Akshay Anish kumar and I’m from a small island called Fiji that is located in the South Pacific with so many beautiful things provided by nature. The island itself is a beauty and will amaze you with all that is available to make your journey and a visit one of the most memorable things in your travel calendar.
It was back in the days when I was at college and my mom got sick and there was no one to do the house chores. Food was one of the major issues for me and my father who was a farm laborer working the whole day in the hot sun to make my life and my family’s life better. Once, he said to me “son I’m hungry and tired, can cook something?”.
I went into the kitchen and asked myself what I could cook since I had never cooked at home. I decided to make fried rice for all 3 of us.
From that day I slowly started to spend more time in kitchen while my mom used to show me how to cook and I decided that yes, now I can cook and I decided to become a chef.
Which cooking school did you attend?
After completing grade 6 I decided to attend the Fiji national university, where I graduated with a culinary certificate 3 and 4 and a trade diploma in the culinary arts.
I started working for Sheraton Fiji as a trainee chef and later joined as commis chef at Hard Rock Cafe Fiji. I worked for Jacks group of restaurants based in Denarau island Fiji. After working in the restaurants, I applied as a chef in the Sheraton Fiji again and got lucky to get a place. I was placed in one of the celebrity chef Peter kuruvita’s (tv presenter,author,industry speaker,restaurateur and restaurant consultant) in his signature restaurant Flying Fish Fiji. Herr peter is my mentor and he is one of the people who always motivated me to succeed in this culinary world.
How could you describe the Fiji islands from a culinary point of view best?
Since fiji is a tropical country, I am used to working with a huge variety of local produce such as fish and vegetables.
What are some of the lesser known sorts of local fish you use and in which way?
The most common fish that we used to work with was mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, Parker Parker, red snapper, wahoo, walu and many more. I also used to get local mud crabs, lobsters and slipper lobsters. I always used to fillet the fresh fish daily and prepare them in different ways per guest request or how it was on the menu. Grilling, baking, steaming, and making kokoda were some of the most common ways I used to prepare the fish that I got back in Fiji.
You also worked as Chef de cuisine at Samoa. Are there any culinary differences between Samoa and Fiji?
After working in Flying Fish a got chance to work in a brand new hotel in samoa, where I am currently. Chef Peter opened his signature restaurant called Aggie Greys by Peter Kuruvita at Sheraton Samoa Hotel & Bungalows.
I was promoted to chef de cuisine and experienced a lot of new things. Especially the samoan culture and there food.
Samoa has totally different methods of cooking and ideas of what they do with the produce here. It’s very expensive to get imported items so mostly people here go for the local produce.
It’s sometimes hard to work with resources available here but at the end of the day it’s always fresh and if you sit back and think ,you can do a lot from the local produce here.
Working as chef is great, Fiji island is beautiful and lots of foreign chefs would love to combine it and work as chef at Fiji. Is it difficult these days to find an chef job at the Fiji islands?
This is my 3rd year here in samoa and becoming a chef de cuisine was not an easy journey. One of the most difficult aspects is a lack of chefs, since not many are from culinary background or a culinary school, but it’s always fun to work with the locals and teach them.
Locals here are very nice so it’s always a good time working with them.
I have also learned some new things from the locals here, which are simple, easy to prepare and delicious.
Can you share some of your latest creations with us?
The most common fish that is always available here is tuna. You can find fresh tuna in the market daily at a reasonable price and a good quality. Two favorite dishes from tuna that the locals love are poke and oka. Oka is made from diced fresh tuna, fresh coconut cream, tomato, cucumber, onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Oka can also be made from fresh tuna with soy and ginger dressing while some just add a little bit of chilli to boost the taste.
Is there any place in the world you would like to work as chef in the future?
Since I have been working on the islands from the start of my career, now I’m thinking of moving to Canada and maybe settle down there because most of my family is there now, so I am looking forward to working and learning some new things and techniques there.
Thank you Akshay for your time.
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