Wednesday, June 4, 2008


For music lovers in the West, Serafina Wedlock or 'Fina', as she prefers to be known, is the sassy weekend host of popular radio show 'Classics' on 88.6 Mix FM.
The week days find her serving up sandwiches, frothy cappuccinos and the odd latte at the Chilli Tree Caf on Tukani Street, just around the corner from the Lautoka Hotel.
The quaint little coffee shop is unique in that it is the only 'real' espresso bar in Lautoka City and boasts a regular clientele of coffee-loving locals and wandering off-shore drifters.
Originally from Vatuwaqa in Suva, Fina is a graduate from the School of Hotel and Catering and had the privilege of completing the practical aspects of the course at the Tokatoka Hotel in Nadi.
"I really missed Suva when I first moved here, the hustle and bustle, night-life, there was always something to do, places to go, people to see,"
she reminisced.
"But I have to admit Lautoka grows on you and before you know it, you, but slowly, surely become a west-side girl," she said in-between serving a mid morning surge of caffeine cravers.
"The climate here is better, the people are friendlier and the grog is out of this world," she proclaimed, much to the bemusement of customers.
"When I left school, I worked at numerous cafes and bars until I landed my dream job at Beachcomber Island Resort, it was so much fun!" However, her dream was short-lived.
While employed at Beachcomber Island, she became a victim of the 2006 military takeover, losing her job as the tourism industry nose-dived forcing the resort to reluctantly shed casual staff.
"It was really devastating," she said, "there I was newly trained, enthusiastic, eager to go and really enjoying working on the island when the rug was literally pulled out from under my feet."
Determined not to give up as hundreds of former hotel employees combed the country in search of employment, Fina answered an advertisement for a barista and landed the job at the Chilli Tree. She found the change from resort to coffee shop challenging and the skills she had acquired not being utilized as much in her new role.
"The menu is set in a caf," she said, "unlike resorts where chefs are given the opportunity to be creative."
She has, however, observed an interesting trend, "the coffee shop is the new bar. Where business deals were once made over a beer at a noisy bar, cafes and coffee have become the venue and drink of choice."
Fina puts it down to the soothing music, the refreshing aroma of fresh coffee and relaxing environment.
Asked about her dreams and aspirations, she replied, "Who knows? I wanted to be a nurse but this is me now, coffee and sandwiches" she said, "I hope one day to have my own caf called La Fina."