Amidst dramatic rainforest-laced landscapes and coconut plantations, Laucala Island, Fijian private island resort, offers tailored sustainable cooking classes hosted with ingredients entirely farmed, fished or foraged from the island.
Organic produce used in each cooking class is grown on a 240-acre hydroponic farm with 15 different types of fruit and 35 varieties of vegetables. Additionally, 85 percent of the island’s seafood is caught within a mile of the shore to preserve the natural offshore habitat of the South Pacific, with fish ranging from rock cod and tuna to mahi-mahi, crayfish and coral trout. Animals such as poultry, cattle (including Wagyu), pigs, quails, ducks and goats are also raised on the farm. Each species is kept on a specific diet, designed to assist in a healthy upbringing. Additionally, this ensures the island’s commitment to keep all products 100 percent hormone and chemical free. These combined efforts allow the resort to operate on 85 percent self-sustainability. The sustainable approach to resort cooking not only guarantees flavorful food, but also ensures that guests leave with a genuine insight into Fijian culture.
Laucala Island’s cooking classes and demonstrations may be modified to accommodate every guest’s taste, preference, or skill level. Each class may also be adapted for young children who want to explore their budding culinary interests. Additionally, Laucala Island can organize cooking demonstrations in the show kitchen for those who are interested in the chef’s gastronomic process, but are not interested in preparing the food themselves. With each of the island’s distinct chefs, Executive Chef Anthony Healy, Pastry Chef Jon Gladson and Thai Chef Piak Sussadeewong, a wide variety of cuisine is possible.
Classes with Executive Chef Anthony Healy
Classes with Executive Chef Anthony Healy are held in the Planation House kitchen but often begin at Laucala Island’s farms. Guests are invited to join Chef Healy for a guided tour through the farm and hydroponics, with the ability to pick and taste ripe produce that will be used to prepare the dishes in the cooking classes. For his classes, Chef Healy creates his signature cuisine by foraging for the freshest ingredients across the island and taking advantage of the plentiful indigenous produce and livestock. Finding truly local menu items adds to the authenticity of Healy’s modern international cuisine. Classes with the Chef can vary greatly depending on guest requests and can range from making pasta from scratch for fresh lobster tortellini or learning how to prepare a local fish for a light lunch.
Chef Healy joined the Laucala Island team in October 2013 after serving as Executive Chef of Lizard Island Resort in Australia, where he developed extensive menus based on guests’ special requirements and dietary needs. He has since been an advocate of the “paddock-to-plate” movement, which he has been able to implement in his cooking at Laucala Island.
Classes with Thai Chef Piak Sussadeewong
From street food to fine dining, Chef Piak is an accomplished chef and guests will benefit from his wealth of knowledge of Thai cuisine. Cooking classes with Chef Piak are held at Seagrass Restaurant or Plantation House kitchen and can range from simple dishes guests can make at home to a favorite dish off the restaurant’s menu. Much of the fresh produce harvested at Laucala Island’s farm is found in Chef Piaks recipes, including vanilla, pepper, tropical fruits (papaya, soursop, banana), and vegetables ranging from 10 varieties of tomato to kale, okra and more. One of the Chef Piak’s specialties is a traditional Thai dish Yaam Goong Sod (pictured above) created with diver-caught prawn salad in spicy lime sauce. The chef’s recipe includes parsley, kaffir lime, lemongrass, onion, heart of palm all grown on the island.
Piak’s career includes a long history with Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, the Souq Waqif in Doha and the Dara Samui in Koh Samui. This year marks second time Piak has called Laucala Island home in the past five years.
Classes with Pastry Chef Jon Gladson
Chef Gladson uses the ingredients at Laucala Island to create imaginative and exquisite desserts for Plantation House as well as low-key fun snacks for the Beach Bar. Baking and pastry classes are held in the pastry kitchen located in Plantation House Restaurant and can include anything from simple bread making to cake decorating and chocolate-making classes.
Chef Gladson is responsible for preparing breads, viennoiseries (puff-pastry style desserts) and wedding cakes for all venues on the island. He also creates the desserts at the Seagrass Restaurant, including sorbets and ice creams. Many of his dessert creations feature coconut and with almost a quarter of the Island covered in copra plantations, coconuts are one of the signature themes of the culinary experience at Laucala Island. The coconut’s uses are wide and varied including shaved coconut, coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut meal and flour.
Chef Gladson comes from highly-acclaimed background in the pastry world. At the young age of 28, Chef Gladson already held positions including Executive Pastry Chef at 2 Michelin Star Guy Savoy Las Vegas and Executive Pastry Chef at the Setai hotel in Miami.