Chef Sam Choy says he is honored to be here
The very popular Hawaiian celebrity chef Sam Choy is on island to be part of the “Ulu Summit” that will kick off today at the Tauese Sunia Ocean Center, and he will be cooking up some of his most delicious dishes, using — of course — breadfruit.
Chef Choy, who has cooked for stars like the Lakers basketball team, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, and various celebrities, is here with the help of the Department of Agriculture's Lealao Melila Purcell, who is an old high school friend.
The Ulu or Breadfruit Summit is sponsored by the American Samoa Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the AS Dept. of Commerce, the University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program and the U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) National University Center.
The summit is designed to introduce breadfruit to the world market; and one of the exciting aspects of this introduction is an introduction of new recipes and new dishes. Chef Choy will be adding his special accent to the summit, by introducing a variety of ulu dishes to taste — to “expose this wonderful product of the islands to the world.”
Samoa News spoke with Choy, whose career has spanned some 40 years. He is currently from Kona, Hawaii, and owns a restaurant there called the Kai Lanai. He stated, "I’m here in American Samoa as an honored guest, to be part of the Ulu Summit.”
“As you all know, I’m an island chef, and I’ve been cooking all my life — for over forty years... it’s unbelievable... and yes I am still cooking, but more importantly, I love the island products that we have, and ulu is one of my favorites” he added.
The chef noted that he was really fortunate to travel on a cruise to see where the Mutiny on the Bounty ship (the Bounty) ended up. "We also went out to Tahiti on the same voyage" he said, explaining that the purpose of the Bounty's sailing into the Pacific had been to bring ulu back to England.
Chef Choy said he felt blessed to be hosted by the Department of Agriculture. “I would like to thank Mel Purcell and the Department of Agriculture in American Samoa for really exposing this wonderful product called “ulu” to the world.”
He also especially acknowledged his host and ASG departments for their tremendous support to this program and “for reaching out to me in Hawaii.” The chef noted, “I'd also like to thank his assistants and administration for bringing me here. It's not only and honor but it's a great feeling to feed the world something different."
Chef Choy explained that breadfruit is by far one of the healthiest starch products in the world. “As we all know, everyone is looking for healthy products, and we find out more and more that ulu is one of the healthiest products for several reasons — one being that it’s gluten free, so if you have allergies it's a great thing to eat. Ulu also has Vitamin C in some of the species.”
"I'm here to expose different methods for cooking ulu" he added.
"I've cooked for a lot of big celebrities, I’ve worked for the Lakers out there in Los Angeles and many others. But most importantly, I am here to help expose this wonderful product of the islands to the world.”
Asked about possible dishes for today’s Ulu Summit and tomorrow’s Market Place Ulu Festival, Chef Choy said "one of my specialties is sort of like a crab cake, but this one is an ulu cake and I am doing a curry lay over it which is like a sauce over the top... it's very, very good... very tasty, very nice. I'll also be making an ulu chowder, and I'll be using a lot of the local seafood in my chowder.”
He added that the chowder is one of his most popular dishes.
"Of course, I'm looking to make beef stew and potato salad using ulu — also very, very tasty."
He says that one of his main goals while here is to show the people of American Samoa that there are many different ways to cook breadfruit.
"One of my main missions here is to let the people of American Samoa know that they can do anything with ulu — it's okay to do something different with it! Aside from cooking ulu our traditional way, by putting it in the umu or cooking it with coconut milk, we can try doing something different with it; I'm here to give people ideas. There are a lot of great chefs here that can do that and I'm excited."
Samoa News understands that local Chef Sualua, CEO of the American Samoa Culinary Institute and restauranteur may be cooking some dishes with Chef Choy; and possibly Chef Charles of Sadie’s and Sadie’s by the Sea, who is from Fiji — curry is one of his specialties — will also be there.