ConversatioNZ rebrands as Eat NZ, teams up with Restaurant Association of New Zealand

Former Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey, food writer Lauraine Jacobs, Richard Hall from Kai Pasifika and ...
Meredith Dyer

Former Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey, food writer Lauraine Jacobs, Richard Hall from Kai Pasifika and KPMG Vanessa O’Neill from KPMG

New Zealand food organisation ConversatioNZ has changed its name and teamed up with the Restaurant Association of New Zealand.

The organisation is now called Eat New Zealand, a move announced on Sunday at its third annual symposium, held as part of Visa Wellington on a Plate, where some of the biggest names in New Zealand food assembled for a day of talking, listening and thinking about New Zealand food.

The collective represents some of New Zealand's best chefs, producers, food media, event organisers and tourism operators.

Taranaki-born chef Ben Shewry, who made the trip from Melbourne, talks about New Zealand food.
Meredith Dyer

Taranaki-born chef Ben Shewry, who made the trip from Melbourne, talks about New Zealand food.

Eat New Zealand's founder, chef Giulio Sturla from Roots restaurant in Canterbury, also announced that Eat New Zealand and the Restaurant Association of New Zealand were committed to developing a platform where travellers to the country could find out more about New Zealand food.

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The aim was to grow the international profile of New Zealand food and the number of visitors travelling here for a food experience.

The panel discussion, led by Cuisine editor Kelli Brett, touched on plenty of themes.
Meredith Dyer

The panel discussion, led by Cuisine editor Kelli Brett, touched on plenty of themes.

Chief executive Angela Clifford said: "Our ingredients do have an international profile, but it's often difficult to explain our food culture, or show people what New Zealand food truly is when they arrive here in the country."

The group's  goal was to attract the rest of the world to eat and drink New Zealand food, she said.

Speakers at the symposium included Kono New Zealand chief executive Rachel Taulelei, New Zealand-born chef Ben Shewry of Melbourne's Attica, one of the world's top 50 restaurants, and Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold. Other speakers included producers and academics and a panel discussion was hosted by Cuisine

 A variety of issues within the food world were discussed, such as sustainability, authenticity and the future of New Zealand food.

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Clifford said it was amazing to have some of the country's most highly regarded food-interested people at Victoria University for the symposium.

Wellington Culinary Events Trust chief executive Sarah Meikle said having the symposium in Wellington was good, but it was crucial that a national conversation  take place to help sell New Zealand as a food destination.

Consumers, here and overseas, were important, so what made the food unique had to be very clear, she said. 

Cuisine editor Kelli Brett presided over the panel discussion on "what a recipe for success might look like".

She said kindness and excellence were central themes of the day,  which are important ingredients in the future of New Zealand's food culture and industry,  as are accountability, future trends, defining and verifying premium products and food tourism.

 - Stuff

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