Sunday, August 5, 2007


WHEN he left Fiji twenty-two years ago to look for greener pastures overseas, Solo Williams had no idea his quest would lead him to learn how to cook and bring him back home as owner of a fine dining restaurant.
Mr Williams who is originally from Rotuma was in the Royal Fiji Military Forces before he left in search for a better life in Sydney, Australia.
He was posted to the Middle East in the 1970s and when he returned from his peacekeeping duties, Mr Williams decided to resign from the army and went to Australia.
"I left Fiji in 1984 and migrated to Australia and when I was in Sydney I was looking for a job. My first job was as a kitchen hand at a French Restaurant,'' he said.
He said he saw an advertisement and decided to go for the interview.
"When I reached the venue for the interview I was shocked to see a long queue of people vying for the position and got nervous.
"All those people who were being interviewed before me had a lot of experience while I on the other hand knew nothing about the kitchen and the job that I was hoping to get,'' he said.
But when asked by the people interviewing him about his experience and expertise, Mr William's reply was honest. He said if he was given the opportunity to learn then he would be the best student and do a good job.
His reply got him the job!
"I was quite surprised when I did get the job and I worked very hard at it and found the kitchen a very interesting place because there were people speaking different languages.
"Eventually I began to observe how the cooks were doing their work and decided to learn cooking.
"The head chef had been observing me and my growing interest in cooking and one day he asked me if I would like to learn to cook and I said yes.
"The next day, I came with a pen and my notebook and began to watch them closely while they cooked the various dishes. I was sent to a chef's school where I studied for four years and then I began my career in cooking,'' said Mr Williams.
Mr Williams said when he was serving in the Middle East he used to watch the Arab women cooking on open fire and they would grind their own herbs and spices.
"I had not paid much attention to their cooking then but as I slowly got to cook, I began to recall the types of herbs and spices they were using and use them."
He met his wife Kim while he was in Tasmania and they got married and have a daughter. Tasmania was also where he won a big chef's competition and surprised a lot of locals and famous chefs.
Mr Williams moved back to Fiji last year and recently opened his fine dining restaurant in Suva's Midcity Plaza called "Green Olive".
The restaurant boasts Mediterranean influenced cuisine with lots of fresh tomatoes, vegetables, olive oil and other fresh greens. Mr Williams said the restaurant was open to anyone who had a taste for fine dining.
Recipe: Turkish bread
BOREK (TURISH BREAD)- Filled with spinach, Basil, fetta, cottage cheese and sundried tomatoes
2 eggs; 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt;
1 cup milk (warm);
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil; 1 1/2 tsp yeast; 1 1/2 cup warm water; 1 kg plain flour; 1 tsp salt; 4 tsp sugar.
Combine eggs, yoghurt, milk, olive oil, yeast, warm water, salt and sugar. Mix well. Add flour to the mixture slowly and knead till it forms a firm dough. Rest it for 30minutes or till it is double in size. Knead it down and cut cup size dough, knead again.
Rest for 15 minutes
Roll out the dough and fill it with spinach, cottage cheese mixture, close the ends and brush it with egg mixture
Bake it in the over (160 degrees) for 20 minutes or until its all brown.