A new reality TV cooking show set in our South Pacific backyard will offer "kindness, warmth and inclusivity", in a move away from the nastiness so prevalent in the popular genre's previous offerings.
Pacific Island Food Revolution, which will screen on TVNZ this year, celebrates Pacific cuisine as 12 teams of two from Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa compete in challenges that highlight their culinary skills and educate viewers on what's possible using traditional foods.
Executive director and host Robert Oliver, a Kiwi chef who has judged on My Kitchen Rules NZ, said the show was very different from the reality cooking shows it followed.
"There's a lot of humour. There's nothing bitchy. We are offering kindness, warmth and inclusivity. At heart, they want to win . . . but the contestants will go and help each other. In one scene a team is eliminated and the other team are upset.
"There's still emotional hooks, just with the moments of kindness, and that's right for [this part of the world]."
It's a change people are ready for, the show's producer Cindi Lucas told the Herald on Sunday.
"It's different. it just feels like [the nastiness in forerunners] has got a bit out of control. We're coming out at a good time."
The show is produced by New Zealand firm Pacific Island Productions and co-funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It will be broadcast on more than 20 TV channels in the South Pacific.
The mission behind the show was to get people eating real, healthy food, Oliver said.
"These dishes that belong in Pacific heritage are extremely valuable and have all the kind of things societies need to sustain themselves. When food is fundamentally based in nature and heritage, you can't go wrong from a health perspective."
But it was important the health messages didn't overwhelm the fun of the show.
"It's really fun and it's in the guise of edu-tainment. The message gets through in a fun way. We're not lecturing people."
The dishes created by the contestants were as good as he'd seen on other shows, Oliver said.
They included taco shells made from breadfruit and patties made from a mix of cassava root, island spinach and river fern.
"There's all this talent here . . . and Pacific Islanders are incredible on camera."
Expert co-hosts and special guests featured in different episodes, including The Princess Royal of Tonga, Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita, and UNICEF ambassador and Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua, who became widely known after footage of his oiled and shirtless appearance at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics went viral.
Kiwi viewers would gain much more than just an increased understanding of the food of their neighbours, Oliver said.
"If you learn about the food, you learn about the people."
Cook like a Pacific Island reality TV star
TEUILA GRILL BY JOHN TU'U
2 brown coconuts
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp coconut oil
Peel breadfruit and cut into slices and boil for 20 minutes in coconut cream.
Once cooled, blend or mash until shapeable.
Make into a patty and grill for approximately 5 minutes each side.
Cut tomatoes in half.
Peel guava and cut into quarters.
Cut lime in half.
Grill all the above until juices flow, then set aside.
For the dressing, mix soy sauce, coconut oil and lemon juice.
Place breadfruit patty in centre of plate.
Top with grilled tomato and guava.
Dress well, then garnish with grilled lime and diced mango.