Food for the Soul By Divya Joseph
“He called me and waited for me to come to Him.”
If you were to fly over the small village of Onenoa in Samoa on a Sunday afternoon, you’d see it covered with fragrant smoke from all the cooking. After church, the men of the village chop down wood and set up the umu, a big outdoor earth oven built out of lava rocks and banana tree trunks, where they make an abundant meal. As he cooked elaborate meals with the men in his house, Sualua Tupolo knew from an early age that he had a passion for cooking. He just didn’t realize that God would take his passion and turn it into a powerful ministry. Tupolo has served as the exclusive chef for three governors of American Samoa, preparing meals for special government functions, legislators, and heads of state. However, he learned that God had a bigger plan for him when He brought him to Southwestern Adventist University as the Director of Food Service and Executive Chef. In high school, while working an after school job at Meals on Wheels, a chef spotted Tupolo’s talent for cooking. The chef encouraged him to apply to culinary school. Tupolo excelled in school and quickly climbed the ranks to becoming the personal chef at the Samoan Governor’s kitchen. There he cooked extravagant meals for special events that hosted anywhere from 30 to 1,500 people, including dignitaries from around the world. Tupolo was also responsible for starting the first culinary school in American Samoa. He even conducted a cooking demonstration for the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives who prepare food for congressmen and congresswomen in Washington, D.C. Despite these notable accomplishments, the memory he cherishes most is when he found a meaningful relationship with Jesus; a relationship that would change the way he approached food. Tupolo was raised as a Christian, but it was when he started attending the Seventh-day Adventist Church that something clicked for him. His change inspired most of his big family of 12 to convert to Seventh-day Adventism. “The biggest blessing in my life is that God never gave up on me,” he said. “He called me and waited for me to come to Him.” Aside from gaining a deep, personal relationship with Christ, Tupolo also loved the health principles of the church and saw the positive impact of a healthier, plant-based diet. “I realized that I am more spiritually aware when I am eating, sleeping, and exercising well,” he said.