The National Chef’s Conference was an event not-to-be-missed by any foodie wanting to experience what the Manawatū food and hospitality industry has to offer.

Held over the second weekend of July across multiple venues, it was the NZ Chefs Associations first visit to Palmerston North thanks to the support of Palmerston North City Council, CEDA, Food HQ, Massey University and UCOL.

The event featured an expo held at UCOL’s Manawatū Campus where big names such as Nestle, Fonterra and Gilmours were on-site among local suppliers stalls.  As well as a food-lovers dream, the event was also an opportunity for upcoming hospitality talent to experience the various opportunities for growth and business in an ever-changing industry.

Damian Peeti, the Manawatū/Whanganui President of the Central Branch of the NZ Chefs Association was behind the successful proposal to have the 2019 Conference hosted in Palmerston North.  Damian, who also works at UCOL, said the event was a great opportunity for local businesses to promote their product and to inspire professionals in the hospitality industry.

“This event was a great time for chefs across the country to come together to celebrate industry talent and keep up to date with current trends.  We are grateful that UCOL contributed their space for the expo part of the event.  This was a great way for the community to join in with the conference and for students to see how their learning can be developed into a career.”

Other local sub-committee members of the Central Branch of NZ Chefs Association include Grant Kitchen from Brew Union, Reuben Leung-Wai from Gilmours, Matt Jeanes from Manawatū Chamber of Commerce, Sean Kereama from Wharerata, Helen Brown and Ken Thompson from NZ Chefs.

From left – Damian Peeti, Sean Kereama, Vonese from Poutama, Grant Kitchen, Reuben Leung-Wai & Joe Hanita

Poutama has great relationships with Māori chefs Sean Kereama, Grant Kitchen and Damian Peeti so through this network Poutama was able to support the event by showcasing some of the products from the Poutama Cuisine Cluster.  As the organisers for the event, the Māori chefs were keen to have a Māori theme for the 3 day event.  This started with a pōwhiri and opening ceremony to welcome all the attendees.  At this event they showcased the Poutama Cuisine products – Cloudy Bay Clams, Apatu Aqua, Biofarm, Torere Macadamias, Tiki Wine, Te Pa Wines, Taha and Mata Beer.

The conference also featured a five-course degustation event called Dinner of Provenance, featuring more local chef talent being hosted at the Awapuni Racecourse.  It was a celebration that showcased producers and suppliers from the Manawatū Region.

Each course was prepared by talented local chefs representing quality local restaurants with Head Chef Grant Kitchen overseeing them all.  Chef Grant also used wines from the Poutama Cuisine Cluster to match with each course – Tiki Chardonnay, Te Pa Rose and Taiao Merlot & Semillon.  Popular television and radio personality Annabelle White was the MC for the evening and guest speakers included Kelli Brett from Cuisine Magazine and Scott Kennedy from Nero.