Hospitality Business July 2021

Page 28


Chatham Islands Food Co Quality & Texture Tempt Chefs


early 800kms from the nearest civilisation, the windswept Chatham Islands – a land of misty skies and 60-knot winds clearing a straight run down to Antarctica – is producing some incredible kaimoana from its surging, nutrient-rich waters. A seventh generation Chatham Islander and third generation farmer, Delwyn Tuanui grew up on the family farm, however, high transportation costs forced him to rethink a future in the land that he loves. Delwyn came up with the idea for Chatham Island Food Co, now renowned for its delicious, sustainablycaught blue cod, pāua, kina and crayfish, while studying agri-business at Victoria’s Marcus Oldham College in 2011. The lightbulb moment occurred 28 JULY 2021 - HOSPITALITY BUSINESS

after a cook-up of Chatham Blue cod was met with raving reviews from hard to please flatmates. It was then that he realised just how special this island bounty was. It wasn’t long before Delwyn was importing Chatham Island blue cod to Australia. “I borrowed a mate’s ute once a week and set off on very early morning deliveries to some of Melbourne’s top restaurants,” he says. “The chefs were blown away with the quality and texture of our champion fish.” With top reviews from some of Melbourne’s best chefs working in the likes of the Royal Mail Hotel and Flower Drum in Chinatown, he knew he was on the right track. The unique quality of Chatham seafood can be explained by looking at the rare-waters from which it comes.

The Chatham Islands sit at the edge of a rare carbon sink, created as warm tropical currents from the north mix with cold sub-Antarctic waters from the south. These nutrient rich waters support vast phytoplankton fields – feed for fish in a thriving marine eco-system. Moreover, the island’s remoteness ensures this environment remains pristine — protected from the harm caused by large built-up areas. For Delwyn, wife Gigi, and the Chatham Island community as a whole, it’s imperative that this unique and bountiful fishery is protected for generations to come; islanders go to great lengths to ensure this is the case. “We’re about as far from civilisation as you can get. The culture here is strong. Many of the old ways are still

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