I’ve been trying for days to meet the chef here at Ratua. She seems a bit mysterious to me but Frederick says she’s just shy. A couple of times he’s brought me back past the pond where the ducks, who provide us with eggs, live to the kitchen. Each time she’s been elsewhere—out in the organic garden or off to the markets at Port Vila. But tomorrow is my last day here and I really wanted to talk to this chef who has made us such fabulous meals so this morning at breakfast, Frederick went into the back and came back dragging the chef by her arm sleeve.
Her name is Kandy Tamagushiku and, over coffee, she told me a little bit about herself. She was born in Port Vila but her father, a park ranger, moved them to New Zealand when she was five. After that, she’d make it back to Vanuatu maybe once a year to visit relatives.
“Vanuatu was always in my heart,” she said. “I never forgot it.”
A year or so ago, she was working in a café near Auckland when a cousin of hers who was doing some electrical work on Ratua told her that the resort was looking for a chef. She knew immediately, she told me, she’d apply. “It was an experience I simply couldn’t turn down. And it was a chance to return to Vanuatu.”
I asked her if there was a difference between living in New Zealand and living here. She said life was much simpler here and, because of that, she thought the people were happier. “They don’t know troubles the way we know troubles.”
We talked a bit more about her life here on the island and then she looked at her watch and told me she needed to get back to the kitchen. “I’m roasting a whole pig for dinner tonight,” she said standing up and shaking my hand. “And a pig waits for no man. Or woman either.” And then she walked past the ducks back to the kitchen.
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