Yes it’s true – we have a new genius in our midst. This is the man whose clientele includes celebrities and even royalty – the Prince Khalifa no less. If he’s impressed the prince, he’s certainly impressed us! We had a fabulous evening dining at Breakas Beach Resort this week and enjoyed learning more about the man behind the food. So let us tell you some of the story… Chef Paolo Zanella is originally from the North of Italy, from half way between Milan and Venice. He is really enjoying living in Vanuatu for the past 6 months now with his wife and son. Before moving to Vanuatu to join the Breakas team, Paolo lived in the United Arab Emirates for 6 years serving many famous people and building his reputation. The cuisine he is offering to Vanuatu clientele is a fusion of Italian with South Pacific ingredients. Chef Paolo loves cooking seafood. When asked what his favorite South Pacific ingredients are other than the seafood, he mentions “Coconut milk, ginger, the sweet bananas, sousout (chayote leaves), nangae nuts and kumala”. His plans for Breakas restaurant includes being very focused on keeping the food and presentation consistent, and also creating interesting dishes using local ingredients.

Our evening started at sunset with a gorgeous table on the beach and a welcome by our gracious host and general manager, Isaac Boyle. We were quickly served a selection of the new dishes starting with spaghetti scoglio which is pasta with prawns, calamari, mussels, baby clams and wahoo fish meat in a napoletana tomato sauce with lemon zest and thyme. Nicky didn’t want to share much of this with us, but it looked and smelt amazing. Then the coconut crab ravioli which includes homemade fresh pasta stuffed with coconut crab and served in creamy nemo sauce with cherry tomatoes. For mains we enjoyed the grigliata mista a delicious seafood mix including marinated and grilled yellow fin tuna fillet, calamari, Teouma prawns and mussels with sides of vegetables and potatoes wedges and served with extra virgin olive oil. My personal favourite was the next dish the Cartoccio which is baked wahoo fish fillet, cooked in tomato sauce with black olives, capers, onions and oregano. It is wrapped in baking paper and oven baked served with steamed coconut rice and sautéed vegetables.

The boys raved about the Scaloppine di vitello ai funghi e tartufo (yep, say that three times!). It is thinly sliced veal, sautéed in mushrooms and a truffle creamy sauce served with market vegetables tossed in garlic butter with potato wedges. And to top off a wonderful meal, we all had the very rich delicious Chocolate soufflé with “a soft heart” served with local vanilla ice cream.

Not only did the food impress, but it’s not every day that we enjoy such great entertainment. We loved the Nakaruai cultural group and string band’s local rendition of ‘Knocking on Heavens Door’. This band provided seriously good ambience with soft jazzy songs and cultural entertainment that hit the right mark. We look forward to returning with family and visitors to dine at Breakas in the near future. Amazing to sit on the beach where you can hear the waves, right next to the pool, under the stars. And yes we have to say best of all is enjoying really tasty sensational food – the chef Paolo’s great mix of Italian and South Pacific cuisine. We’ll be back!

Story by the girls behind the man behind the food, Jackie Potgieter and Nicola Barnes of Pandanus Consulting and Hotspots Vanuatu