As we head towards International Women’s Day on 8 March, I’m jumping into a personal project that I have been dreaming about for four years now and I’m hoping that you will join me for what I think is going to be a spectacular ride.

What started as an idea to unearth and support women working within the hospitality industry has grown into something much bigger. Something that will showcase women who work within all the diverse industries that drive the evolution of our food-and-drink culture. I hope to launch a national group (Women in Food & Drink Aotearoa New Zealand) to connect all women in food and drink across the country, a group that will help us to network, educate and support each other as we share ideas and knowledge.

To kick us off, I’ve been asking the question, “Who are the most influential and inspiring women in food and drink?” and gathering nominations from hospitality and food-and-drink experts around the country. Their response was overwhelming and, as we started to work toward recognising the top 50, it became all too clear that there are so many deserving women and so many questions that need to be asked and answered. The two main things to consider are: How, where and what do they influence? How are they contributing to a conversation about our food-and-drink story of which we can all be proud?

Inspiring people can be found everywhere and influence comes in many forms. It can be found in someone who has an established brand and access to a massive number of people, but also in someone who works quietly in the background to instigate positive change. Some of these women are high-profile executives and some are relatively unknown start-up leaders and creative thinkers. Ultimately, they are all impressive.

While compiling this list we’ve thought long and hard about whether it will be helpful to us all. I long for the day when women are recognised for their accomplishments without having gender weighing in. But that day is far off, so this list of magnificent individuals – in no particular ranking or order – is our starting point and is an opportunity to move towards a more focussed conversation about the achievements of so many talented women within our food-and-drink industry, and to lift them up, celebrate and support them. It is by no means definitive and you may feel that there are important sectors or people that have not been recognised in this first list. I hope you will celebrate it in the spirit intended: as a foundation which we can build on and develop together. From the nominations received we’ve tried to include a broad range of career categories and, in some cases, we’ve looked back over the years to acknowledge past achievements. Looking forward to 2024, we will be opening up nominations to you all and asking you to identify people who have achieved greatly within the last 12 months: but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023, we will celebrate at Soul Bar & Bistro and announce the recipients of our awards for the Hall of Fame 2023 (see the nominees here), the Evolving Woman in Food & Drink 2023 and the Supreme Woman in Food & Drink 2023. Each of these inspirational women is featured on these pages. I wonder if you can guess who they are.

Just imagine what the Women in Food & Drink Aotearoa New Zealand national group could look like; it is going to be the beginning of a huge and incredibly important network. I’m so proud to be launching this initiative with full support of Cuisine magazine as media partner, and who better than Olivia Carter, Geeling Ching, Gavin Doyle and the phenomenal team at Soul to help pull off this event?

Head down to the bottom of our list to find full event details. Hope to see you there…
Kelli Brett, Editor, Cuisine

Aotearoa New Zealand’s most influential & inspiring women in food and drink


With more than 20 years of global marketing, project management and sales experience, there’s no arguing that Charlotte is a woman who is well-equipped to support the growth of New Zealand exporting businesses. She had 10 years as the Export Marketing Manager for Villa Maria based in both Europe and China, then worked at the New Zealand embassy in Beijing as the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) Food and Beverage Programme Leader, reporting into the Regional Director for Greater China and working alongside the five Trade Commissioners. Back in Auckland as Customer Manager at NZTE, she managed a portfolio of high-calibre companies exporting globally. Now GM for Marketing for New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country’s grape and wine sector, and a board member for Pinot Noir NZ, Charlotte holds a tremendous amount of influence over how the industry body talks about and promotes New Zealand wine to the world.


As the former executive chef of Hipgroup’s cafés and restaurants, Jo was a woman with a huge portfolio of restaurants under her watch, responsible for the design and implementation of menus for some of Auckland’s great dining institutions and she can be credited with having nurtured many hospitality high-achievers. Now, as co-owner and executive chef at highly acclaimed restaurant Alma, she is respected as one of the city’s most innovative and talented chefs.


With more than 40 years’ experience, Kate Radburnd has been a highly regarded ambassador for New Zealand wine, particularly in establishing Hawke’s Bay as one of New Zealand’s premium wine regions. After seven years at Vidal, where her wines won numerous accolades, she moved to CJ Pask as head winemaker, eventually becoming part-owner and managing director. For 14 years she represented Hawke’s Bay on the board of New Zealand Wine and was instrumental in the formation of the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand programme. As chair of the Women in Wine national programme, Kate has a huge focus on encouraging women within the wine industry and she was one of the instigators of the phenomenal Hawke’s Bay Charity Wine Auction, which she chairs to this day. At Radburnd Cellars she continues to produce award-winning ultra-premium wines and to enhance the reputation of Aotearoa as a destination for serious food-and-wine lovers.


Angela is the CEO of Eat New Zealand – a food movement dedicated to connecting people to our land and our ocean through food – and is passionately committed to putting New Zealand food on the world map. She is also the managing director of Tongue in Groove Wines and the proud co-owner of The Food Farm, an organic, permaculture community- supported agriculture property.


Co-owner of award-winning restaurant Cazador, Rebecca is hugely respected within the hospitality industry and widely sought as a consultant, keynote speaker and mentor. Her restaurant has been pushing the importance of ethical consumption since 1987, slowly raising awareness and educating its clientele about wild food and sustainable choices.


Kārena and Kasey – although unique and independent women – come in an undeniably inspirational package of two. The sisters from the beautiful beachside community of Maketu combine their heritage, flavours of their childhood and ingredients from our land with learnings from culinary expeditions to more than 50 international destinations, many made during the course of their TV cooking series Kārena & Kasey’s Kitchen Diplomacy. Winners of the fifth series of MasterChef New Zealand, their first cookbook For The Love Of… led to scooping up Best TV Cookbook at the Gourmand World Cookbook awards, but it was their second cookbook Hungry that gave a glimpse of the strength of these passionate and influential storytellers. Their ‘Creation Dinner’ series – based on the creation story according to Māori lore and showcasing our world-class food producers paired with top-class New Zealand wine made by Māori winemakers, served by a fine team of young Māori women – changed the game as we knew it with regard to a dégustation at a secret location and leaves us open to infinite possibilities.


As an arable farming leader, Karen has been hugely influential in pushing the importance of the industry as a sustainable food producer. She is a former winner of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for the Wellington region, Federated Farmers Biosecurity Farmer of the Year for 2017 and a graduate of the ‘Escalator’ programme from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust. She has been producing quality food and feed on Ahiaruhe Farm in Gladstone, Wairarapa since 2000 and is currently Rural Propositions Manager at Farmers Mutual Group. /in/karen-williams


High-profile restaurateur and entrepreneur Chandni co-owns two Cuisine Good Food Award-winning Auckland dining establishments Cassia and Sid at The French Café, as well as newly opened Kol. She is on the board of Heart of the City – the business association for Auckland’s city centre – she is an outspoken advocate for better inclusion of migrants in the New Zealand labour force and is also included in Auckland University’s prestigious Alumni 40 under 40. /in/chandni-sahrawat-baba3186


As director of Element Food, we have Megan to thank for many of the artisanal and unusual New Zealand products or ingredients on our favourite restaurant menus. She has been fiercely supporting and promoting our unique food producers to the food service industry since 2011 and has earned a reputation as one of the best in the biz. If you want to know where to find a taste of Aotearoa, ask Megan. @elementfoodnz


At her renowned restaurant Hiakai in Wellington, Monique is leading the charge to change the perception of Māori food. After being announced one of TIME magazine’s Greatest Places of 2019, Hiakai became one of the world’s best places to visit according to Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel picks for 2021. Monique’s groundbreaking book Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine was, and still is, inspirational in its approach to a new era for Māori food and her appearance on the Netflix series The Final Table helped to draw the eyes of a global audience to Aotearoa. She has high hopes for women seeking a serious career in hospitality: the fact that she no longer needs to fight to be the one to break down the fish has become a huge win for Monique and she constantly reminds her younger team that it was not that long ago that they would have had to stand their ground and demand to be in the boys’ club.


If you are talking perfectly suited job titles, then Food & Beverage Ambassador is an absolute fit for Justine at Northland Inc, an initiative to grow economic development across Te Tai Tokerau. An entrepreneur at heart, Justine combines her love of hospitality and tourism with project management and marketing expertise and is the dynamo-in-the-know with regard to the intricate layers of the Northland food story.


Renowned for her time as food editor at Cuisine magazine and as a columnist for The Listener, Lauraine is internationally respected as a food-and-wine writer and an authority on the food of Aotearoa. Author/editor of nine cookbooks and one travel book, she is a tireless advocate for our hospitality industry, small artisan producers and farmers’ markets and enthusiastically promotes the importance of New Zealand’s regional food stories.


Accomplished cookbook author, entertainer, broadcaster, food stylist, recipe developer and food editor, Nici is all about no-fuss, confidence-building cooking. With five seasons on her TV cooking show World Kitchen and more recently in search of New Zealand’s best backyard barbecue team as a judge on Cooks on Fire, six years as food editor for Viva and five years creating, testing and styling over 200 recipes each year for New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, she’s the real deal.


It’s a common misconception that it all started with MasterChef New Zealand. Actually, it was Jamie Oliver who planted the seed in the mind of a young Nadia Lim about writing cookbooks and having her own cooking show. In 2011 Nadia cooked her way to the top of the big MC and then in 2013 launched My Food Bag, solving the puzzle of ‘What’s for dinner?’ for thousands of families across New Zealand. In 2016 she launched Nadia Journal and in 2020 she appeared on her own TV series Nadia’s Comfort Kitchen. In 2022 she graced our screens as one of the three judges on the long-awaited seventh series of MasterChef New Zealand, and also in an inspiring new series Nadia’s Farm, which documents the vision of Nadia and Carlos Bagrie as they reimagine the farming sector to find more sustainable and circular solutions to help our land, animals and food sources. Add in 12 cookbooks and a swathe of charitable partnerships and that’s a lot of influence.


Drawn to locally grown oats because of their nutritional and sustainable profile, Morgan set about creating quality products to increase the demand for oats and contribute to a more diversified farming landscape. She launched Boring Oat Milk in August 2021; look closely at the labels and you’ll find that, to date, Morgan’s brand is the only New Zealand-grown and -made plant milk to be found on our supermarket shelves. That’s a big tick.


Owner of Nourish magazine – a free quarterly publication for foodies in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty – Vicki produces content that proudly feeds the souls of her local community. Co-founder of The Feed, a digital platform dedicated to sharing the food stories of Aotearoa, she is also founder of Waikato Food Inc and hugely responsible for putting the Waikato on the New Zealand food-and-drink map.


Writer, speaker, broadcaster and business strategist in tourism and hospitality, Tash is co-founder of The Feed, a digital platform for sharing Aotearoa’s most important food stories. She is also co-founder of Grow Tourism, a learning platform dedicated to equipping a workforce with the skills needed to build a high-value tourism future. She’s the president of Food Writers New Zealand, a networking organisation for all professional food communicators, and she is personally developing a reputation as one of the best.


If you have ever listened to Jessica discuss indigenous politics around food growing for communities and the potential of the hua parakore model – an indigenous system and framework for growing product and food – for Māori food sovereignty, you will realise how important a role she plays in the reimagining of our food future as a nation. A widely published author and research leader trained in the fields of environmental and indigenous studies, Jessica is also an organic farmer on a small family farm. Among many diverse roles, she is the co-founding trustee of the Papawhakaritorito Charitable Trust with a founding purpose to undertake research, education and development in relation to Māori food sovereignty. She also co-leads the team on Kai Atua: Food for Hope and Wellbeing, a project that is focussed on diverse Māori food-growing communities posing indigenous critiques of modern-day food systems and making visible the production, retail and entrepreneurial experiences of kaupapa Māori food actors who live and work within a broken global food system. The project is as influential as it is inspirational, explaining the growing symbolic and social significance of Māori food stories.


As the food editor at Metro magazine, Jean is deeply immersed in the Auckland dining culture and has a hefty measure of sway with regard to driving its food-and-drink story. Jean is one to watch: a great storyteller dishing up interesting and thought-provoking angles and never afraid to ruffle a few feathers. Oh, and she eats a lot!


With more than 30 years of global corporate experience in communications and PR, Fiona is committed to developing a strong authentic profile for Marlborough through its food-and-beverage sector. Founding chair and board advisor of Feast Marlborough, she is also an integral part of the national Women in Wine programme. Through her business, fifteenminutes, she works with leaders who are serious about making the most of their careers.


It was in early 2011 that Desiree, managing director and CEO of Cardrona Distillery, first dreamed of making a New Zealand single malt whisky that would stand tall on the international stage. Today, she leads this now iconic distillery producing internationally award-winning spirits with her all-women distilling team and attracting the eyes of the world as a leader in an industry once dominated by men.


Having spent more than 24 years promoting Aotearoa as a world-class producer of food and beverages, Rachel’s list of accomplishments is magnificently long. Eight years as US Trade Commissioner honed her skills and passion for selling New Zealand to the world, then she returned home in 2006 to open Yellow Brick Road, a sustainable fishing company in Wellington. In 2015 she became the CEO of Kono – a Māori-owned food-and-drinks company – and in 2016 she was honoured as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the food-and-hospitality industry. A member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council from 2018 to 2020, Rachel was named Māori Woman Business Leader for 2018 at the University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards and in 2019 she was appointed to represent New Zealand on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC). Alongside managing her current role as co-founder of business design and brand strategy firm Oho, Rachel currently chairs the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust (Sky Stadium) and Moana New Zealand, and serves on the boards of the Warehouse Group (chair of the Environmental Social Sustainability subcommittee), ANZCO Foods, Sealord, the Young Enterprise Trust and Queen Margaret College.


Highly respected Wellington chef and restaurateur, Julie Clark of Floriditas is an integral part of the Wellington food scene and drove the establishment of the day eatery and brunch culture that is now a thriving aspect of the local dining scene. Building a business that sets trends, that has stood the test of time and has positively influenced and developed so many hospitality careers deserves our applause. Julie was honoured with the supreme individual award at the prestigious Felix Awards 2022 for her legacy in the Wellington hospitality industry.


After 15 years in FMCG marketing, working for Unilever, Fonterra, Heinz Watties and Cadbury’s, Lisa co-founded Eat My Lunch, a social enterprise that donated over 1.8m lunches to Kiwi school kids. She was named 2019 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by business platform MYOB and in 2020 she launched AF Drinks – an alcohol-free range for the sober-curious to explore a different relationship with alcohol. /in/lisa-king


Heilala Vanilla chief executive Jennifer Boggis has a deeply-held purpose to transform the future of her company’s vanilla-growing partners in the Kingdom of Tonga. Developing an in-depth understanding of their international customers has resulted in this world-renowned humanitarian vanilla brand being featured on the menus of some of the world’s best restaurants, driving global recognition for a premium New Zealand food story.


Florence is Head of Sustainability at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and as co-founder of Businesses for Climate Action she supports hundreds of businesses as they tackle the challenges and opportunities of climate change. This impressive sustainable-business leader and entrepreneur is also co-founder of Chia Sisters, an accredited Living Wage employer and zero- carbon, climate-positive and B Corp-certified drinks company which she co-founded with her sister Chloe.


As chair of the Aotearoa New Zealand Seaweed Association (ANZSA) and CEO of AgriSea NZ Seaweed Ltd – a Māori-owned and family-operated business that has been making products from seaweed for more than 25 years – Clare Bradley is determined to develop this high-value, nature- positive industry that has been largely overlooked. As the world begins to really understand the various benefits that seaweed has to offer, Clare believes that New Zealand – with its vast ocean environment hosting a large number of seaweed species, many of which are unique to our shores – is ready to step up and build an industry for the future that is good for the people and good for our planet. Clare drove the formation of the ANZSA in 2021 with a promise to grow this incredibly valuable industry to deliver healthy marine ecosystems and thriving communities and become a significant contributor to the Aotearoa New Zealand economy.


What could be more important than teaching children aged 7-10 years how to grow, harvest, cook and share food? Catherine is the co-founder of the Garden to Table trust, an inspiring programme now established nationally in over 200 schools. Co-founder of Dish magazine and a respected food and travel writer, her business Epicure Trading distributes single-use tableware produced in an ethical manner with an earth-to-earth philosophy and a focus on sustainability.


Co-owner and director at Lot Eight in Martinborough, Nalini was awarded Pacific Woman In Business 2016 and is renowned as one of the most innovative olive oil makers in the business for her highly original flavour profiles. Nalini produces some of our finest extra virgin and cold-pressed olive oils and it is the relationship that she has developed with leading chefs that puts her at the forefront of the highly competitive New Zealand olive oil industry.


As one of the leading photographers in the commercial food photography sector and realising that only 15% of the imagery you see in advertising was being shot by a woman, Victoria founded the Women’s Work Collective in 2019. It’s a unique collaboration of female photographers to level the playing field within the industry, sharing skills to create a better world with equality and compassion at its core.


The woman behind the New Zealand School of Food & Wine – the largest provider of wine education for consumers in New Zealand – Celia is the author of the New Zealand Wine Guide, a qualified chef, former restaurateur and founding chair/president of the New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals Association. Through the comprehensive courses offered by the school – founded in 1995 – and as a food-and-beverage specialist and educator, Celia is responsible for shaping and developing our future hospitality champions.


A passionately food-first author, food stylist, recipe developer and writer, Jennifer is also a food scientist and New Zealand registered dietitian. Her roles have encompassed public health and nutrition and product development and she has worked closely with the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, the Health Star Rating advisory group and the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council to express nutrition science in meaningful and relevant language for consumers. @culinaryjourneys


There has never been a better time for a publication that connects, empowers and inspires rural women so, bravely bucking the trend of media closures, Kristy launched her magazine Shepherdess in the autumn of 2020. Celebrating the accomplishments and discussing the challenges of these women, many of whom are the backbone of our food-and-drink story, Kristy and her team offer a unique space to tell the stories of our rural communities.


What began as a desire to eat high-quality New Zealand-made charcuterie has grown into the creation of A Lady Butcher – a business producing meat traditionally cured in New Zealand using grass-fed lamb, New Zealand wagyu and local free-range pork – and Hannah is the lady behind the lady, so to speak. She’s stuck her knife in the sand and is carving her way toward producing ‘purposeful meats’ and encouraging customers to consider their food when choosing where to dine or what to buy from the butcher. All of the meat for her charcuterie is sourced directly from the farmers ensuring full traceability and her range, which includes Southland lamb prosciutto, free-range pancetta, free-range coppa and New Zealand wagyu bresaola, is currently available at speciality retailers nationwide. Hannah uses her product as a means to tell a premium New Zealand food story, demonstrating a strong female voice within a category that is predominantly run by men.


A fierce food champion, community wealth builder and curator of the original North Wharf restaurant strip at Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, Connie was the dynamo behind The Kitchen Project, an inspirational programme designed to support emerging indigenous food entrepreneurs and an initiative that has helped develop tremendous business and employment opportunities in south and west Auckland. Connie is also a key member of the executive for the Lewisham Foundation, which was formed to encourage excellence in the Auckland hospitality community and is now Head of Business Development – Homeland and The Kitchen – The Food Embassy for Aotearoa & The Pacific.  /in/connieclarkson


As a hard-tech entrepreneur, Shama is reimagining the food system, starting with meat. She founded Sunfed with a desire to create plant-based products that were an alternative to chicken, pork and beef but which provided similar high-protein, low-carb benefits, and a vision to create regenerative end-to-end food systems from the soil to the water to the human. Despite having no prior food-industry experience, her first foray into the meat-free world was chicken-free chicken made only from healthy, natural ingredients. With a firm belief that food production represents the single largest human impact upon our planet, Shama thinks that foundational changes in the food system can significantly transform the world and with a pragmatic and market-led approach she is fully focussed on building a global company with mass scale that can remain fully sustainable as it grows.


As chief executive of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand – a membership organisation that represents thousands of restaurants across the country – Marisa is positioned at the crossroads between good food and good business for a hospitality industry that is worth over $13 billion. A mentor, cheerleader, advisor and mediator, Marisa is constantly advocating for change in the sector, better conditions and a kinder culture for those in the hospitality business.


Co-founder of Raglan Food Co, Latesha went from experimenting in her home kitchen to make vegan coconut yoghurt for her partner Seb – who had decided to go dairy-free due to allergies – to supplying major stores across New Zealand and internationally with delicious dairy-free products. Through it all, Tesh has remained true to her company’s Raglan roots despite being recognised in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Food Entrepreneurs Working Toward A Cleaner & Healthier Future in 2020, being a New Zealand Women of Influence finalist in 2021 and the company winning the Ministry for Primary Industries Supreme Employer Award in 2022. Before starting Raglan Food Co, Tesh ran a digital agency working with ethical and sustainably-focussed brands and she believes that business can and must be a tool for doing good.


In her own words, Damaris is a ‘hustler for a better world’. A seasoned hospitality professional, after many years co-owning and operating popular Auckland restaurant Coco’s Cantina, she’s now the fearless woman behind The Realness. This is a digital platform with the stated aim of championing owner-operated, independent and First Nations’ offerings and making it easy for customers to connect with them. It epitomises Damaris’ determination to redefine how people discover and support independent businesses.


With bylines in prestigious titles such as the Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Eater and the Los Angeles Times, Hillary is that rare species of New Zealand-based food-and-drink writer with global muscle. Recently turning restaurateur and co-managing a magnificent trio of Auckland venues – Pasture, Boxer and Alpha – has added an in-depth understanding of the world of hospitality from the inside that adds a richness and depth of flavour to her words. @hilleaton


Sarah’s voice is impressive: she is the woman behind Visa Wellington On a Plate, New Zealand’s most inspirational food-and-drink festival; the event director of Beervana; CEO of the Wellington Culinary Events Trust which was formed in 2014 to promote Wellington as the premium New Zealand food-and- beverage destination; and Vice Chair of the New Zealand Events Association. As a culinary tourism specialist, her valuable thoughts on the important role that food tourism plays in our country’s branding and positioning are respected locally and internationally and have led her to form Food + Drink New Zealand, a food-tourism consultancy that helps organisations and destinations identify and tell their food story. In addition, with governance roles on the boards of Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough Ltd (Director), Good Bitches Baking (Board Member) and Eat New Zealand (Executive Committee), Sarah is a must-have at the table when the conversation turns to food and drink. /in/meiklesarah


There is no denying that a passionate baker with a global Instagram audience of 364k has a voice. Erin Clarkson grew up in Nelson, studied geology and geography, moved to New York, became homesick and started baking her favourite New Zealand recipes. In 2016 she launched Cloudy Kitchen and has now returned home bringing the eyes of her massive audience with her.


Candice has worked as a sommelier in some of the world’s finest Michelin- starred restaurants and has been part of the New Zealand hospitality industry since 2009. When one of New Zealand’s most experienced wine communicators, Raymond Chan, sadly passed away in 2019, Candice was determined to see his legacy live on. By stepping up and taking over at Raymond Chan Wine Reviews she has ensured that more than 10,000 valuable reviews by Raymond remain available and accessible and she continues to review and build on his work. Candice is a major player in the wine world and is developing into one of our most prolific wine reviewers, building a voice that is hugely respected. From her base in Queenstown with the Central Otago wine region on her doorstep, in 2019 Candice launched Candice Wine Chat.


From her Auckland-based restaurant Forest, outstanding chef and restaurateur Plabita is quietly fighting the war on waste and our disconnection with where our food comes from. Her low-to-no-waste philosophy and practice of only presenting two set menus offering vegan or vegetarian options first gained traction as a pop-up dinner series held at organic community farm Kelmarna Gardens and grew into a fully-fledged restaurant in 2019. Plabita’s food and her innovative menu earned her a prestigious hat at the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2021/2022. It is her relationships with growers at organisations such as Kelmarna and OMG (Organic Market Garden) that allow her to deliver food that is completely plant-based while knowing where absolutely every ingredient comes from. Her inspirational approach to the humble vegetables that so often play a supporting role results in an experience that takes the diner far beyond the fact that it is plant-based. More importantly, it is outrageously delicious.


With a desire to focus on significance rather than success, in 2011 Deborah dropped her career as a lawyer to research the concept of food rescue. She went on to develop KiwiHarvest, an organisation that rescues quality surplus food and diverts it to people across New Zealand who are struggling. Recognised as the 2022 Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year, Deborah is an invited lecturer at the University of Otago, a past member of the Board of Advisors of the University of Otago Legal Issues Centre and is a member of New Zealand Food Waste Champions 12.3 – a coalition of 12 champions from New Zealand’s food-supply chain who are committed to halving food waste by 2030. KiwiHarvest has provided the equivalent of more than 20 million meals from rescued food that might otherwise end up in landfill – which would then contribute to greenhouse gas emissions – and Deborah is a leading voice in advocacy, strategy and education on food-waste issues.


There is much more to this story than just beer. Kirsty co-owns Sawmill Brewery + Smoko Room in Matakana, north of Auckland where the commitment to preserve our shared resources – land, sea, soil and water – is massive. An independent, New Zealand-owned brewery run by a small team, for more than 18 years it has been brewing quality beer using New Zealand-grown hops and malted barley. Nothing ground-breaking there until you start to look at the ethos of resourcefulness and creativity with regard to how this brewery is run. Sawmill operates right at the reality end of sustainability, not as a strategic marketing advantage but in order to have a positive impact. As the woman behind Aotearoa’s first B Corp-certified brewery, Kirsty is dedicated to building a business that makes the future look brighter across governance, workforce, community, customers, environment and social responsibility. The result is outstanding beer with the deepest of roots.


A senior writer for the New Zealand Herald news team and Canvas magazine, Kim is, in our opinion, one of the best in the biz. A Masters in Gastronomy from Auckland University of Technology fuels her obsession with food and food journalism as she produces restaurant reviews and feature articles that always answer the questions that we really want her to ask. @kimknightnz


With more than 20 years’ experience in global food companies, Julie is the founder and director of Foodcom, a specialist consultancy with expertise in food that connects businesses to consumers. With qualifications in human nutrition and dietetics, she has worked closely with Food Standards Australia New Zealand, giving her a rare ability to understand everything from regulatory requirements through to clear and effective communication and advertising.


One of Aotearoa’s most respected senior wine judges nationally and internationally, Jane is a Master of Wine (in 1993 she was the youngest female to pass the exam), founded the New Zealand School of Wines and Spirits in 2006 and is a WSET Certified Educator. She is the New Zealand editor of Gourmet Traveller Wine and a regular contributor to publications in New Zealand, Australia and China.


Awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in 2020 for her services to Māori and sustainable food production, Aunty Arohanui (Hanui) Lawrence is the impressive woman behind Aunty’s Garden. She spends her days tending to the garden at Waipatu Marae in Hastings, where she has built a valuable network of Māori and non-Māori sustainable food producers. /AuntysGarden

Join us on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023, at SOUL BAR & BISTRO.
Sip on champagne, enjoy a delicious three-course lunch and celebrate with us as we present three prestigious awards:
HALL OF FAME 2023 (see the nominees here)
Can you guess who they might be?

We’ll also be announcing the formation of Women In Food & Drink Aotearoa New Zealand – an exciting networking group that will offer women across the country the opportunity to connect and share knowledge and ideas.

Date: Wednesday 8 March
Time: 12.30pm–3pm
Price: $99 per person includes a flute of Mumm RSRV champagne on arrival and a unique three-course lunch.
Tickets on sale Monday 13 February

Call the friendly team on 09 356 7249 or email to secure your tickets. Full payment is taken at the time of booking.