Kelli Brett gathers some stories that matter. As we slowly start to gather momentum, our website is finally up at wifd.co.nz and every day it becomes more and more clear that our ideas, ambitions and dreams are important and can play a role in shaping a better community for all of us. If you are a woman working within the diverse and exciting field of food and drink, head to the new website and become a professional member. Meanwhile, we continue to showcase the wonderful women who work to drive the evolution of our food-and-drink culture. At the very heart of this initiative is the hope that we can inspire and motivate more young women to consider building a career within one of a multitude of industries that contribute to our important food-and-drink story.

PR / Hospitality / Media
Jane Torrance

Jane is a food-and-beverage PR who has worked in PR for more than 20 years, 10 of those within the music industry. She then transitioned to working with chefs, food producers and restaurateurs – who many would say are the rock stars of the F&B scene. And while Jane would agree with that, she also enjoys the unsung heroes of the industry who work tirelessly behind the scenes, of which Jane herself is definitely one. She has worked with inspirational chefs, restaurateurs, commentators, foodies and food producers, including Sid and Chand Sahrawat, Ben Bayly, Nic Watt, Richard and Helen Dorresteyn, Isabel Pasch, Nick Brown and Becs Caughey Brown, Lesley Chandra and Simon and Lisa Levy. In the past year, highlights have included TV culinary food adventures with Ben Bayly for A New Zealand Food Story, raising awareness of Grey Lynn Farmers Market and the important role it plays in connecting growers and producers with communities, encouraging foodies to visit over 100 eateries that grace the 1.6km strip during restaurant festival Eat Drink Love Ponsonby and pro bono work for DineAid, a charitable trust that exists to facilitate food people (the industry) to feed people that need food (via the City Mission food banks). Jane says that working in food-and-drink PR is dynamic and no one day is the same. “I am inspired daily by my clients’ resilience, passion and their drive to be the best in their field. That is my ‘why’ – my clients and doing what I can to support their storytelling.” jane@jtlpr.co.nz

Brand Development / Technology / Sustainability
Esraa El Shall

Esraa El Shall wears two very important hats within the New Zealand food industry. Her day job sees her as Head of Innovation & Development at Fonterra Brands New Zealand, focussed on product and packaging innovation and how technology will evolve over time to enable us to continue developing solutions for a sustainable future. Esraa delivers the best of dairy nutrition to our tāngata and to the world with brands such as Anchor, Mainland, Kāpiti and Fresh’n Fruity and her team passionately crafts award-winning dairy goodness that is recognised industry-wide. She absolutely loves that she can play a role in bringing pleasure to Kiwis by producing some of Aotearoa’s most iconic brands. Esraa’s second hat is worn as the President of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST). In this role she works with talented minds from both the industry and academia to shape the future of this organisation that has been instrumental in the development of Aotearoa’s food industry for the past 60 years. In 2023 the NZIFST embarked on a journey to refresh the overarching strategy of the institute so it can continue to honour its heritage and work towards building a sustainable and vibrant food industry. Esraa feels that the amount of support and collaboration invested in the refreshed strategy is something to be proud of. “It is a proof point that we are at our best when we come together, collaborate and embrace diversity of thought.” fonterra.com, nzifst.org.nz

Brand Communications / Wine / Sustainability
Chrissy Powlesland

After decades working in marketing and advertising, Chrissy discovered a career as a marketer in the wine industry when she shifted to Marlborough. She now lives on Waiheke Island and has recently joined the team at New Zealand Winegrowers as Communications Manager supporting all areas of the organisation including branding, advocacy, sustainability and research. Putting New Zealand wine on the global stage is a huge focus and Chrissy recently hosted UK wine legend Oz Clarke, showing him an insider’s view of life on Waiheke Island. They visited wineries that he had very fond memories of from almost a decade ago and it was an inspiring opportunity for her to work with one of the greatest with regards to the telling of the global wine story. “I genuinely believe in supporting and helping people, and I think those values are strong drivers for clear communications. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and always asking, ‘How am I helping to solve a problem or offer a solution?’, creates meaningful and authentic communications.” nzwine.com

Media / Hospitality / Content
Creation Fiona Hugues

Fiona is in the business of making images scream ‘eat me’ or ‘drink me’ and she effusively jumps into projects and campaigns for print, digital, television and retail, mainly employed as a stylist or an art director. Currently, this encompasses developing or redefining brands, creating elaborate scenes, building tablescapes and sourcing props, designing recipes and menus, cooking and preparing, and turning up on set to arrange food and tweak it as the cameras roll. This year she has been particularly excited to be working alongside chefs and seasoned hospitality stalwarts to create spaces and add top-level styling to their dining offerings. You can find Fiona’s award-winning photography in magazines and social campaigns as well as on her own website and social pages, and her food-writing skills express ideas that are refreshingly – sometimes brutally – honest. I love that. Feeding and sharing food with people in beautiful ways is what gets Fiona up each day. “Food is the glue that keeps us together; with this in mind, we need to preserve and promote the ritual that is dining together and share the experience of enjoying great produce with many. It’s my job to help make that happen so we’re all deliciously visually feasting and being inspired to eat well on the daily.” fionahugues.com

Hospitality / Luxury Tourism / Community
Fiona Winger

After 15 years abroad working in the luxury tourism sector, in 2021 Fiona Winger returned to New Zealand to join Robertson Lodges and lead the team at Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown. This ignited a passion for our world-class food-and-beverage offering, confirming her thoughts that Aotearoa matches and often exceeds the offerings of international foodie havens. Fiona is now the general manager at Matakauri’s sister property, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay, and there she works closely with her team to deliver a spectacular taste of New Zealand to guests who are used to experiencing only the very best. With a clientele that has tasted sensational food and wine in many parts of the world, Fiona understands that perfecting the art of seamless hospitality is a key ingredient for success and she strives to create extraordinary moments that will produce uniquely special memories of The Farm and its outstanding lodge. Fiona is most proud of the culture that has been created at Robertson Lodges to connect with local producers and suppliers, to ensure that they contribute to a thriving community, and strive to keep New Zealand on the map of must- visit destinations. “I couldn’t be more excited for the summer. I have a feeling it is going to be a reminder to us all that we have something very special right on our doorstep.” robertsonlodges.com/the-lodges/cape-kidnappers