Through her restaurant, Hiakai, and cookbook of the same name, Kiwi-Samoan chef Monique Fiso is giving Maori cuisine its long overdue place in the spotlight. She tells dish about her passion for pav and her best Christmas gift ever.
dish: Where will you spend Christmas?
Monique: At my parents’ house, like most years. We have an extended whānau get-together on Christmas Eve and then it’s just my parents, my siblings and their kids on Christmas Day.
How do you usually spend the day?
Lots of family time and kai but also sneaking in a few naps.
Do you have any special Christmas/festive period traditions?
We have an ongoing Secret Santa every year for the extended whānau.
What do you love to prepare and eat on Christmas Day?
I can eat an entire Christmas pavlova on my own. No joke.
Who does the cooking?
My mum handles the cooking on Christmas Day. It’s a much-needed day off for me!
Most treasured Christmas item?
My Christmas stocking. I’ve had it since I was about three years old; my mother sewed it herself and embroidered an italic ‘M’ on it. It has huge sentimental value for me.
Worst/best Christmas gift ever?
Best Christmas gift was the trampoline and swing set my parents set up in the backyard in the dead of night when I was five years old. We woke up on Christmas morning and they told us to look out the window and “see what Santa had done”. It was pretty magical for a little kid.
All you want for Christmas is…
A year's supply of socks and undies.
Fave Christmas movie?
40 Wallace Street, Mount Cook, Wellington