Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Metita is leading Sāmoan chef Michael Meredith’s latest restaurant, serving up mouthwatering dishes with the rich and diverse flavours of the Pacific.
Beside the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand is where you’ll get a little taste of Pacific cuisine.
“I wanted to bring, obviously, our food culture and elevate it a little bit and, you know, I think our food is very comforting food,” Michael says.
The award-winning Sāmoan chef is serving up a menu of some of his favourite Pasifika foods at Metita, a restaurant named after his late mother.
“Most people though, in the food industry, they’re always honouring their grandmother or mother,” he says.
“For me, my mother was a big part of influencing me in food in our culture in Sāmoa, because you cook quite early on as kids; it becomes part of your chores.”
His appetite for cooking grew early on in life, raised by a single mother who ran a panikeke stall at Apia market to support their family.
“What holds quite close to me is just her ability to be herself and have that sort of amazing talent and putting flavours together because I remember when she left Sāmoa and came to New Zealand, we didn’t see her for a little bit.
“But we came here and I remember trying some of the European food that she was making, it impressed me.”
It gave him a taste of the industry that’s inspired his love of cooking so much so his former restaurants, Meredith’s as well as Mr Morris, have won awards.
Now, with Metita adding a Poly flavour to the Sky City precinct, Michael is proud to showcase his Pasifika roots. But he is feeling the pressure when it comes to plating up our traditional dishes.
“I keep those things as close as it can be to what people remember because it is sort of those things that people sort of reflect on or what they enjoy or their mother’s cooked.
“But I think a lot of the things that I’ve done are inspired by the ingredients. And then I sort of add texture and spices. The whole menu is predominantly sourced here, New Zealand ingredients grown here.”
Yes, it’s a fresh exploration of Pacific cuisine for others to indulge in.
“I know because my heritage is Sāmoan, but I’m sort of extending the whole range of Pacific because I think it’s a region in the world that needs to be celebrated a little bit more.
“We’ve got some amazing ingredients. Our culture as well, we’ve celebrated the culture, but in the food, there’s a few of us now, Polynesian chefs, pushing that forward, which is a great exposure of the region.”
And it’s exposure he hopes will leave you wanting more.