World leaders to dine on traditional PNG cuisine

World leaders and foreign dignitaries attending the APEC Forum will dine on a range of traditional Papua New Guinean foods including mudcrabs, organically farmed beef and hand-caught Spanish mackerel.

The food, cooked in a three-metre earth oven, styled on a traditional mumu, will be served to hundreds of dignitaries from 21 countries attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Port Moresby later this year.

APEC is an economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific region.

Around 50 local chefs and 100 wait staff will work around the clock to prepare meals under the direction of Hilton Port Moresby executive chef, Paul Brown.

Brown says he will be taking his culinary inspiration from traditional Papua New Guinean food preparation but adding his own modern twist.

Sago, cassava, yams, sweet potato (kaukau) are just some of the local staples he will be utilising along with coconut cream, clay pots and a ground oven (mumu) to bring out the flavours.

“The mumu menu will be driven by the concept of mixing technical plated entrées, shared plates, large cuts and sides. We will create two or three menus that will guide guests through a dining experience of modern and traditional dishes,” he says.

Brown states the area is fortunate to have an abundance of wild greens (kumu) and these include watercress, pumpkin shoots, aibika, pak choi, bok choy, kangkung and taro leaf.

This produce along with chicken, prawns and other foods, will all be chosen from local suppliers with a limit on any imports to keep the cuisine authentic but also support the local economy, says Brown.

“Our brief is to obviously use as much from PNG as we can to showcase the unique food offering we have, but to also ensure that we are supporting our local farmers and producers,” he says.

Brown says APEC provides a unique opportunity to showcase PNG food as the country is still in the early stages of its hospitality offering.

“It’s not a situation as in other parts of the Pacific where most chefs create Thai and Vietnamese food for guests. We have the chance to use some of these more traditional recipes and cooking techniques and take them to a new level and turn some of the foods into a fine dining dish, it's a challenge but it's a really exciting one,” he says.

Along with management of the menu, Brown is responsible for overseeing and training the team of chefs and wait staff, he says it's an excellent opportunity for locals and graduates to upskill in the hospitality industry.

“We will be hiring trained chefs alongside new graduates, and we’re happy to be able to nurture some young talent and allow them to be part of a culinary experience, where they will test their skills on world leaders.

“We hope the event will provide an enviable foundation for their future careers in the hospitality industry,” he says.

Brown says members of the public are able to see the type of PNG foods that will be served to visiting world leaders in sample menus on the Star Mountain Plaza website: from today.

(Hilton Port Moresby Mumu Restaurant)

Press release