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Chef Mena crowned island chef 2020 Lihir island

Island Chef winner - Chef Mena & team

What do you get when you cross hit TV shows ‘Master Chef’ and ‘Survivor’ with a good dose of PNG creativity and humor on a tiny gold mining island cut off from the rest of the world in the midst of a pandemic? Why, ‘Island Chef’ of course!

‘Island Chef’ is the brainchild of PNG catering and camp management company, NCS. It was in direct response to COVID-19 and provided some light relief and entertainment to thousands of workers stuck on the remote island of Lihir. It showcased the best of PNG resilience as well as the skills and culinary expertise of NCS’s catering team.

Eleven teams of four, expertly lead by a professionally trained chef battled it out to be crowned ‘Island Chef 2020’. Some amazing dishes were served over the competition, until only two teams remained – Chef Mena and Chef Leonard. The two teams battled it out to serve a three course dinner to VIPs on Lihir Island. The competition was fierce and, in the end, only a few points separated the teams.


Word is that his main course could rival similar dishes at Michelin star restaurants worldwide! Congratulations must also go to Chef Leonard and his team who put up an amazing fight and produced dishes that they can be proud of.

Patrick Doekes, CEO of NCS’ parent company, Anitua, was relieved to see so much enthusiasm for Island Chef. “COVID-19 and its associated travel bans has meant that just about all of us are well and truly stuck on Lihir and away from our loved ones for a long and indefinite period of time. It’s a really tough position for everyone and we’ve been worried about how it will impact people’s health.” He says that Island Chef has “most definitely lightened the mood”

Video footage and images of the teams who competed in ‘Island Chef 2020’ can be viewed on Facebook (@islandchefpng). Some great videos were produced, showcasing the amazing talents of the teams who competed, so go ahead and check them out.

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