Meet The Chef: Josua Rasolo, Summerset Falls, Warkworth

Hailing from the beautiful island of  Vanua Balavu, Lau in Fiji, 39 years young Josua Rasolo is the head chef at Summerset Falls, Warkworth.

“I started out as an apprentice in fitting and machining but somehow found my way into the kitchen and never looked back,” Rasolo told Aged Plus magazine.

Rasolo has been a professional chef for 13 years now, working in several parts of the South Pacific including Fiji, Niue, the Cook Islands and even onboard a diving boat. Rasolo was in the Cook Islands when a friend told him about the position at White Tie, the catering company for Summerset Falls.

White Tie Catering offers contemporary, high-end cuisine with a proud focus on showcasing the best of New Zealand's pantry, Canterbury. White Tie is constantly developing and testing new techniques and ingredients to give its clients an exceptional food experience delivered by the hand-picked and trained front of house teams.

“I applied, however it took a long time for me to get here due to my visa application,” explained Rasolo. “Luckily I was blessed as the company was very patient and helped me get my visa through. This is my first time in New Zealand and so far it has been unreal.” 

The day starts at 8 am for Rasolo, opening the kitchen, taking temperature readings of the chillers and freezers - safety being of high importance in the aged care sector, replying to emails and making any changes to the daily menu that might need to be made. He starts prepping lunch to be ready for 12pm.

“But during this, I have to make sure that morning tea is prepared and ready, I also have to ensure that our café cabinet is filled and ready by 10 am as this is when our café opens. When dinner is ready and packed away in our scan box I start placing orders and planning for the next day.”

Summerset Falls is located in a beautiful environment alongside the tranquil Mahurangi River and was designed for maximum sun and relaxation in a peaceful, rural environment. The village’s Divine Café and in-house catering offer contemporary food menus prepared on site with wholesome, seasonal, and locally grown produce.

Cooking in an aged care facility comes with its own challenges. Rasolo had to adjust to these quickly as this is his first time working in the sector. 

“I count myself lucky as my sous chef has worked in age care for a while and has been a big help to me,” noted Rasolo. 

“I think for me the major difference is the pace at which meals are prepared. In a restaurant, it’s more or less a la carte where care is taken but it has to be pumped out within a certain time and is fast paced. In the aged sector a great amount of care needs to be taken in preparation as residents have different dietary requirements.”

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the biggest challenge for the chef and his team was getting the goods they needed. The supplier reduced deliveries which meant Rasolo had to adjust how he ordered and stored his supply, an obstacle he took in his stride. 

"His teamwork is phenomenal, he is passionate, has an exceptional work ethic, and his love for the elderly resonates in his can-do attitude,” said Dawnette Le Roux, White Tie Health Services contract manager.

It was a love of food that first attracted Rasolo to a career as a chef. Seeing the smile on someone’s face after they have eaten the food he has prepared is the most rewarding aspect for him. 

“I’ve also seen some beautiful places and met some great people along the way.”

Rasolo can’t wait to road trip again and explore more of Aotearoa, content that he has accomplished most of what he set out to achieve professionally.

“Right now my goal is to mahi hard and support my family back in Fiji. I just want to thank White Tie for giving this island boy an opportunity.”