Back to school for Papua New Guinea’s budding chefs


Being on top of your game is vital in the highly competitive food industry, which demands an elite level of creativity and innovation. Here’s what one school is doing to help Papua New Guinean chefs stay at the top of their game.

A student in the kitchen pays attention to detail at the APTC cookery school. Credit: Godfreeman Kaptigau

At the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) in Port Moresby, commercial cookery trainer Chef Christopher Lokei aims to equip his students with the confidence required to re-enter the trade with new vigour and preparedness.

‘Candidates are not newbies,’ he says. ‘They’ve had some form of experience as dishwashers or line cooks, so they have an idea on the basic operation of a kitchen – what we do is nudge them in the right direction.’

There are 25 study units, completed over six months, undertaken by students to give them the knowledge to operate in a commercial food environment. One of the units even teaches them skills in high culinary art.

‘We show them modern techniques so they are right up there with global trends,’ Chef Christopher says.

‘An oven, for example, is thought of in terms of baking and roasting but if you understand your equipment you can also steam in the oven, proof your breads and you can sous vide (the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath), which is trending in many kitchens around the world.

‘We encourage creativity and give them [the students chefs] space to use local ingredients.’

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There are tasting events open to the public at the APTC’s Aria Restaurant throughout the year where you can try some of the culinary school’s finest creations.

I sampled octopus soused at 77 degrees in a sealed bag packed with various seasonings for five hours. The octopus was lightly grilled and served with a breadfruit puree and coconut.

Beef fillet with sweet potato fondant, roast root vegetables and a red wine reduction. Credit: Godfreeman Kaptigau

The breadfruit, usually smoked on open coals or cut up and fried in Papua New Guinea, was used in this dish as a puree.

‘It’s just something the guys [student]) came up with,’ Chef Christopher says. ‘We try to get a hint of localisation in there; we encourage creativity and give them space to use local ingredients.’

For dessert, I sampled guava pie served with miso caramel butter and sour cream ice cream – a local twist to the pear pie, with an ingredient abundant in the country.

Getting apprentices ready for the workforce goes beyond skill and creativity for Chef Christopher.

‘As a Papua New Guinean, I put a lot of effort on mind set–we do industry consultation and we often hear that there are absenteeism and punctuality issues. So we emphasise to our students that they need the right mind set for this profession,’ he tells PNG Now.

‘If someone is not cut out for this industry, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb – there are a lot of stars here; they just need to be moulded,’ he says.

The article ‘Cooking class’ was first published in the April/May 2022 issue of PNG Now, Papua New Guinea’s leading lifestyle magazine. Read it online here.


  1. Cathy Kepas says

    That is cool. I’m interested.

  2. Cathy Kepas says

    Am interested

  3. Angus Butler says

    I am interested where can I get more information on course details?

  4. James Waber says

    I,m a senior chef,where can I get the application letter?

  5. Junior Steven says

    Very impressive and I’m very interested, where can I get an application form for next year recruitment?

  6. Hodley Lyne says

    I’m interested. Where can I get an application form?

  7. Debbie Tolipi says

    I am interested, I need assistance 🙏

  8. Zipporah Jimmy says

    I am really interested in this course

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