Kelli Brett shares her vision for a new era of Cuisine.
Not everyone is lucky enough to get to a time and place where their varied career paths meet in a role that is the perfect mash-up of life skills, knowledge, strengths and passions.
When making the move from Australia to New Zealand to take up the role of editor of Cuisine magazine, I had to take a huge leap of faith. I hit the ground running in December 2015, inheriting a small but fiercely dedicated and talented team, and I have never looked back. This job just feels right. At the time it was obvious that the New Zealand food and drink industries were on the edge of something very special – there seemed to be a smouldering desire to collaborate and define New Zealand food. I had found my dream job.
I never imagined I would have the opportunity to be one of the owners of Cuisine. The premium title was widely referred to as the jewel in the crown of the Fairfax magazine portfolio, and a year into the job I was firmly hooked. The thrill of seeing each issue come off the press, that first flick through the pages to see all of the brainstorming and ideas come together. The knowledge that the content within provided a vital platform for so many to tell their stories and inspire others. The ability to drive a conversation around food that plays a major part in developing a national pride in what New Zealand has to offer.
I hatched a plan with my sales manager Vanessa Stranan (who is as passionate about and devoted to Cuisine as I am) and we let Fairfax know that if anyone was going to be given the opportunity to buy Cuisine, it needed to be us. Our persistence paid off. On December 22, 2017, Slick & Sassy Media Limited became the proud owners of New Zealand’s most respected and trusted food and drink publication. (I’ll save the story behind our company name for a glass or two of Tony Bish’s Fat & Sassy Chardonnay).
At a time when the future of print is being questioned and dominated by downsizing and turmoil, we know that the iconic Cuisine brand has great potential for expansion. Cuisine has an authentic and direct relationship with its audience, built over three decades. The current addiction to phones, laptops and tablets gives a specialised print publication such as Cuisine a valuable opportunity. The luxury of immersing our audience in a polished, aspirational and inspirational collection of carefully created and curated content without the distraction of emails, texts or social media. Time away from screens. “Me time”.
The Cuisine that Julie Dalzell created in 1987 was ground-breaking and one of a kind. That first 100 per cent New Zealand food publication was designed to bring global culinary inspiration to NZ food and wine lovers. A publication for professional foodies and aspirational home cooks. Thirty years later, Cuisine is still leading the way, although we are redefining ourselves and working on ways to actively adjust to new realities in media consumption. Cuisine as we know it has to change. Like it or not, technology is transforming every single phase of the magazine business, but at our core, our focus will still be Our People, Our Stories, Our Food, and a new commitment to take the New Zealand food and drink story to the world. While continuing to provide original recipes that showcase New Zealand flavour, we will develop a new digital footprint for Cuisine, and we’ll keep championing excellence within our hospitality industry with the Cuisine Good Food Awards and the Cuisine Good Food Guide. These awards now form the basis of New Zealand’s ranking in a number of international restaurant guides and lists and provide crucial feedback for our restaurant industry. We will continue to support and acknowledge the talent and determination of our artisan producers, who are the future of New Zealand food, and we will focus even more on the much-valued Cuisine wine tastings to provide a rigorous and trustworthy analysis for the New Zealand wine industry.
Food and drink touch everything we do, and behind that food and drink are the talented people who grow, produce, cook, serve, create, study, write, design, shoot, educate, debate and innovate.
Vanessa and I feel privileged and excited to take the reins of Cuisine and have it once again become an independent publication. We hope you will continue to support Cuisine and share the journey with us. Our people, our stories, our food. It’s going to be a hell of a ride, and one you shouldn’t miss.