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Chef bakes a Māori approach into her culinary business

Natasha Hill, Te Rito Journalism Cadet

A chef and nutritionist who started out as as a waitress in Ōtara and now owns a culinary and nutrition business is using a Māori approach to promote healthy eating.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Bridget Foliaki-Davis (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Manu) is the owner of an online culinary business called Bridget’s Healthy Kitchen.

She uses this platform to connect and help people with their healthy lifestyle journey using whānau-centred approaches.

“I started an online platform a number of years ago focusing on health and wellness. Really, I’m using the food as the focus, but good, delicious food because I’m a chef, right. It’s got to taste good.

“I don’t want that cardboard diet food. I want real food that tastes good so we started this business that is aligned with flavour first.”

When she was 14, she worked as a waitress at a Māori cuisine restaurant called Zena’s Pataka Manaaki in Otara during the 1980s.

Since then, during her 35-year long career she has worked as a chef and is also a qualified nutritionist.

One of the things we thought felt lacking was that sense of belonging and community, Foliaki-Davis said.

“Leaving the marae behind and my husband’s Tongan, so he had a really strong community group [because] he grew up in Māngere. For us, being Māori and him being Tongan, running our businesses together, we couldn’t help but inject that sense of identity into our business.”

She said the start of the business came about when she decided to change her unhealthy lifestyle.

“About seven or eight years ago I was obese, quite overweight. I had fatty liver disease and I was pre-diabetic and I was depressed. Absolutely miserable. I decided I needed to make a change because I wasn’t happy with how I felt.”

“I went out and got myself qualified as a nutritionist so I could understand the science behind it.”

With a successful business, she hopes to continue creating positive and community-based spaces.

“It’ll be our own marae but it’s all online.”

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