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Kaitaki Food Leaders

Kaitaki Food Leaders

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Meet our 2023 / 2024 Eat New Zealand Kaitaki

Now into its fourth year, we are incredibly excited to introduce you to our Eat New Zealand Kaitaki for 2023/2024 - a collective of next generation food leaders telling the Aotearoa food story.

This year we welcome another 40 individuals from across the food system, each of them are the embodiment of what comes next in food in Aotearoa. Together they join our three previous cohorts taking our Kaitaki Collective to an army of over 135 future food leaders!

We are grateful to have the support of our major sponsor Our Land and Water National Science Challenge to help us champion and facilitate this powerful cohort.

The cohort is led by Kate Underwood, a Kaitaki herself, she is a Freelance Food Writer and Communicator (@relishthememory) from Te Puke, who has worked alongside Angela Clifford for the last five years as the Communications Specialist for Eat New Zealand.

Over the next 12 months we'll continue to share stories and content from our Kaitaki across various platforms including:

Read on below to meet the new voices in the collective...

Te Tai Tokerau / Northland

Memphis Brooks - Rural Professional / Red Meat Auditor

Memphis (Ngati Whatua O Kaipara) is red meat auditor, a mama, a gardener, a cook, and a homesteader tending to a small number of animals on the west coast of rural Northland with her partner. As a rural professional she graduated from Massey University with a bachelor of agricommerce majoring in international agribusiness, has a supply chain background and is an inaugural council member of the NZ Food and Fibre Youth Network. She grew up in the city and has been hungry for connection food and land her whole life. Next year she is completing her post-grad in teaching so she can empower rangatahi to become more food secure. @em_dubs_

Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland

Chloe Eberly - Student / Hospo Professional

Chloe is an AUT Master of Gastronomy student and hospitality professional with an interest in sustainable food systems and the future of food. Currently a senior waiter at Hugo’s Bistro and Omni (wine & yakitori bar), she also collaborates with Carlo of Strawberry Pig, for a monthly pop-up at Annabel’s Wine Bar. With more than a decade in hospitality she believes this has formed the basis of her food literacy. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania she comes from generations of Amish farmers and moved to Aotearoa after graduating high school. She loves gathering people around a table with kai and appreciates the stories that this inspires. @chlo.eberly

Andrea Bravo - Chef / Health Coach / Photographer

Andrea is a chef, health coach and photographer. Originally from Chile, New Zealand has been her home for the past 12 years. She is a solo mum of two girls and started cooking professionally when she left home. She is passionate about creating whole food recipes and living a life closer to nature. As a certified health coach she loves guiding people on their journey from sickness to health and does so by providing a personal chef service for people healing from chronic autoimmune conditions which are rapidly escalating right now in New Zealand and around the world. She truly believes it starts with the food we eat and the soil we grow it in. @dandelionkitchennz

Jessabel Granada - Chef / Restaurateur

Jessabel is a chef and the co-owner of Nanam Eatery, a Filipino/Spanish inspired restaurant on the North Shore in Takapuna, Auckland. After arriving in New Zealand from the Philippines when she was just 23, she has found her home here. Alongside her partner Andrew Soriano, they’ve been introducing Filipino cuisine through food and stories to New Zealanders and in 2015 started selling “Taco Pao” (taco siopao) with pork cooked in humba sauce at the Auckland night markets. She admits life in hospitality is difficult, but believes with purpose comes responsibility and fulfilment and the challenges of the past few years have made her stronger. @nanamrestaurant

Danijela Armitage - Content Creator / Nutritionist

Danijela is an NZ Registered Nutritionist and the content creator behind the digital platforms Nourish and Tempt. She aims to bridge the nutrition and culinary worlds through sharing nutritionally-considered recipe ideas, alongside nutrition information communicated in an easy-to-digest manner. Her professional career included community nutrition, private practice and workplace wellbeing. She believes the kitchen is a wonderful gateway to better nutrition, and hope readers can build their kitchen confidence and nutrition knowledge through Nourish and Tempt recipes. @nourishandtempt

Bridget McCarthy - Sourdough Baker / Photographer

Bridget is a bread baker, photographer and barista with over ten years of hospitality experience. For the last two and a half years she’s been working as a whole grain sourdough bread baker at Florets Bakery in Grey Lynn, Auckland - under the guidance of Maya Handley. Over her time there she loved using local suppliers, and making something highly nutritious for the local community. She’s an amateur fermenter, a model, a budding green finger and is passionate about slow food production, accessibility and food education. She lives to eat and is an avid lover of Dominion Road’s diverse foodscape. @bringomac

Jonathan Thevenar - Chef / Restaurateur

Jonathon (Ngāti Rangiwewehi (Awahou) and Ngati mani) is a passionate chef and co-owner of three wel-loved Auckland restaurants including; Pici - a small pasta restaurant in St Kevin’s Arcade, Ooh-fa a woodfired pizza spot on Dominion Rd and Tappo - a new wine bar next to Pici. His true passion is in permaculture, gardening, hunting, fishing and building with natural products, but also preserving and leaving places better for the community. He sees himself as a Kaitiaki of the land and the communities he interacts with and always has improving the health of our environment front of mind. @chef_jono_t / @pici.krd / @oohfa__ / @tappo.krd

Lavinia Small - Chef / Writer

Lavinia (Lavi) is a chef and writer whose mahi is focused on exploring food as a means of storytelling. Her work weaves together poetry writing and food design to create emotionally rich, evocative culinary experiences through which the stories of land, sea and peoples are made wholly consumable. She is currently finishing her first book and has worked as head chef across various Auckland establishments. She's also a big fan of cooking over fire! @laviniasmal

Laura Wieland - Regenerative / Community Gardener

Laura is an organic, regenerative gardener and community builder based in Piha. After growing up in Amsterdam with no connection to where her food came from, seven years ago she fell in love with a New Zealander and moved to Aotearoa. She works for The WayGood Foundation, organising weekly volunteer days at their permaculture garden and delivering educational workshops. She is driven to connect her community with their food, by inspiring them to grow their own produce and share plants, seeds and homemade compost. She lives off grid in a tiny house on her partners family farm and is in the process of creating a regenerative homestead. @laurainpiha @waygood_foundation_piha

Anna Worthington - Dietitian / Researcher

Anna is an NZ registered dietitian and PhD researcher focused on behaviour change. Currently in her third and final year, her PHD research investigates how we can use behaviour change science in nutrition research. She loves blending science with spirituality for a holistic outlook on life and is constantly seeking ways of creating positive ripples through our communities. She co-facilitated a six week community nutrition programme with Tō Wāhi and the Oranga Community Centre, alongside a personal trainer which taught practical cooking skills, how to shop healthy on a budget and movement practices.

Matua Murupaenga - Chef / Māori Wine Producer

Matua (Ngati Kuri, Ngati Kahu) is a chef, wine producer, DJ, keen cyclist, and carb lover from Tamaki Makaurau. He’s an urban Māori hailing from West Auckland who grew up navigating the weekday kitchen on a low budget with high inspiration and preparing big marae feeds in the weekends. He is about to release his first vintage of natural wines with a focus on Māori practices and tikanga. He recently worked at Pici restaurant making fresh bread and pasta daily. When not in the kitchen, he’s on his pahikara taking on the bike haters of Tamaki. @ngatibarkteryx / @tawhiti.wines

Thomas & Sheena Southam - Youtubers / Content Creators

Thomas and Sheena Southam are the creators of Chasing a Plate, a YouTube channel that celebrates great food and the people behind it. They capture their food experiences through engaging videos, celebrating the work of small producers, chefs and food focused community organisations and share it with their audience of over 200,000+ food lovers. For the past few years they’ve used their platform to focus solely on Aotearoa’s food culture - including individuals from our previous Kaitaki cohort. They live to eat and travel and started Chasing a Plate as a Melbourne-based food blog in 2013 and over the past 10 years have travelled to over 30+ countries. @chasingaplate

Lily Henderson - Dietitian / Food and Nutrition Communicator

Lily is a NZ Registered Dietitian and is the Nutrition Manager and in-house nutrition expert at My Food Bag. Lily is passionate about keeping meals simple, nourishing, locally sourced while minimising food waste wherever possible (get those broccoli stalks in). When Lily isn’t cooking, baking, or thinking about food she is often writing about food. Having recently left a role at the Heart Foundation where she was National Nutrition Advisor, she’s joined the My Food Bag team and works closely with the chefs and Development Kitchen team to source ingredients from 200+ mainly NZ-based suppliers and ensure meals are brimming with goodness. @nutritionwithlils


Logan Wait - Food Entrepreneur

Logan (Ngāti Tūmatauenga) lives on the family farm and is CEO & Founder at Earth First Food Ltd. Taking a stand against the global food system, the way it treats our farmers, its impact on our soil, and on our wellbeing; Earth First is building a local food network that prioritises the biological health of soil, animal welfare, and human nutrition. Their NOMAD Unit travels from farm to farm processing Forward Orders of meat that customers place on Earth First Food. Previously, Logan was CEO & Co-Founder of Eco Portal, he holds a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, and enjoys gardening with his partner and their 11-month-old son. @knowyourfoodnz

Jaron Slipper - Chef

Jaron is the food and beverage manager and chef at the Agrodome in Rotorua, where they prioritise using locally sourced ‘farm to table’ food. Having grown up on a sheep farm in Invercargill, he now lives on a lifestyle block in South Waikato and is passionate about gardening. working the farm and often thinks about ways to better help the environment. With over 20 years experience as a chef he is focused on cooking sustainably, with less waste and is committed to serving fresh, locally grown ingredients to strengthen the New Zealand story for our global visitors. @jaronslipper / @agrodrome

Luke Andrews - Butcher / Farmer

Luke is a young whole animal butcher who works in his family business, Wholly Cow Butchery. They farm and finish prime beef and lamb, processing them in their on-farm micro abattoir. As the lead butcher and retail butchery manager, he prepares, cuts and sells all of the meat for local customers in their independently owned butchery in Cambridge in the Waikato. He’s come a long way, having grown up attending the farmer markets every weekend to help establish the family business, which he is now a major part of. He’s grateful for an upbringing that has taught him the importance of the relationship between the farmer and the eater. @whollycowbutchery

Te Moana a Toi / Bay of Plenty

Monique Macfarlane - Educator / Biodynamic Practitioner

Monique is a holistic food systems facilitator and educator who teaches a variety of workshops including biodynamics, planting by the moon, no-dig food growing and self sufficiency as well as consulting. She also contributes a beautiful biodynamic planting and gardening cosmic calendar to OrganicNZ magazine each issue. Currently based on 8ha in Waihi that is certified organic and co-created with biodynamic principles, her heartfelt passion for food, localisation, and thriving nature is the foundation of all she does. She loves to grow, loves to cook, loves to eat and wants to help more people to have access to delicious nutrient dense holistic food. @_natural_wisdom_

Varsh Lutchman - Food Photographer / IT

Varsh is a food & beverage photographer, and allergy friendly recipe developer. She is the ‘Head Geek’ behind Foodographer - a food & beverage content creation studio based in Tauranga. As a South African Indian woman and mum, who has lived in Aotearoa for over 25 years, she has always had a great interest in anything food related - from eating it to experimenting with it and photographing it. She is an advocate for changing how inclusive the food world needs to become, in order to allow those with allergies to still be able to enjoy and connect, through food. She’s also a web developer and has a Bachelor's degree in IT. @foodographer.nz

Te Tairāwhiti / Gisborne

Sam Rowland - Environmentalist

Sam is an environmentalist, conservationist, nature system-change expert, vege gardener, preserver and composter. She understands the positive role that the food system can have in creating a future where nature is thriving in Aotearoa. As a self-confessed ‘nature-nerd’, Sam works on system-change and grassroots movements to establish opportunities for people and organisations to be connected and take action for nature. She is deeply passionate for te taiao and leads a piece of work at the Sustainable Business Network that looks at how we create system change to help nature regenerate in Aotearoa New Zealand. @sam_nznature


Amber Mathew - Food Writer

Amber is a food writer/blogger who has spent the past two years creating content to promote the local food scene in Taranaki - through her blog ‘Tasty in Taranaki’. From farms and butcher shops, to authentic French pastry bakers and handmade pasta makers - if there's something delicious being grown, cooked, or created in the Taranaki region, she likes to celebrate and support the small businesses who are doing the mahi. She has written for local Taranaki publications including Live & MOOD Magazine and served as the Market Coordinator for the Taranaki Farmers Market. @tastyintaranaki

Palmerston North - Te Papaioea

Summer Rangimaarie Wright - Dietitian / PHD Researcher

Summer is a dietitian and researcher, currently doing a PhD as part of Te Rangahau Taha Wheako mō ngā Kai o Āpōpō/Consumer Dimensions of Future Foods, where her research is focused on Māori enterprise and plant-based foods. She is also a climate-health researcher in association with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, where they are exploring the contribution of mātauranga Māori to climate health outcomes in Aotearoa. She trained as a Dietitian at the University of Auckland and sees kai as a lever for fundamentally transforming the ways we relate to nature, animals, and each other. She also represents Te Kāhui Manukura o Kai Ora (Māori Dietitian Rōpū) on the Dietitians NZ Council. @sumwamp


Alex Morrissey - Organic Vegetable Grower

Alex is an organic regenerative food grower and the co-founder/managing director of Little Farms - which provides weekly organic seasonal vegetable boxes to the Wairarapa and Wellington with food from other Wairarapa growers (including her own.) She lives on a 1/4 acre market garden in the small rural town of Pirinoa in South Wairarapa, with her husband and two kids. Her ‘vegetable wonderland’ has about 20 different species in each garden bed. She’s across social media sharing behind the scenes of the veggie box business to show people what it takes to get food from seed to their doorstep. Alex is also a garden educator where she hosts workshops, community events and gives free gardening advice online. @wearelittlefarm / @wearelittlefarmsboxes

Kāpiti Coast

Sarah Hopkinson - Farmer / Writer / Teacher

Sarah is an earth dreamer, a front yard farmer of ancient ideas and a curriculum designer for thriving futures. She grows regenerative organic food at The Green Garden, a suburban farm on Te Atiawa ki Kāpiti whenua, where she focuses on syntropic principles to create nutrient dense food for her family and community. Alongside regenerative education, Sarah works in curriculum design with special interests in environmental education, Te Tiriti justice and Pākehā identity. She’s also written several articles about the importance of reimagining our relationship to land and food production. @thegreengardennz

Pōneke / Wellington

Eden Skipper - Mahika Kai Specialist / Podcaster

Eden (Ngāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Ngāti Kahangunu ki Wairoa) is a Māori boy who is connecting food, whakapapa, people and place to Wairewa. He hosts a podcaster called Tiaki Kai Tiaki Oranga (healthy kai healthy wellbeing) who focuses specifically on how financial wellbeing may impact our health. He works for MPI and loves to forage, dive and gather kai and seaweed.He’s currently developing a mahika kai programme for his marae so families who whakapapa to Wairewa know how to gather kai in their own takiwā and is writing a whānau cook book which includes historic food stories and traditional gathering practices. @TiakiKaiTiakiOranga : https://open.spotify.com/show/...

Jack Rainey - Chef / Restaurant Manager

Jack is currently the Restaurant Manager of Everybody Eats Wellington. He is first and foremost a qualified chef with over 15 years experience and now has a good understanding of both charity and restaurant operations. He’s a big foraging fan and believes food preservation is key to his skill set! He’s deeply passionate about the Everybody Eats kaupapa - a koha based charitable dining concept that weaves a community and manaakitanga through the reduction of food waste. @mangaweka / @everybodyeatsnz

Chandrika Khullar - Chef

Chandrika is the co-head chef of the well-loved Wellington restaurant, Loretta. Originally from India, food is her absolute reason for being and she feels incredibly lucky to have had the chance to learn about the beauty of spices and Indian food growing up. She loves that now she gets to make a beautiful marriage of the flavors and techniques from both her childhood and her time here in New Zealand. Her ultimate goal is to have a no waste restaurant and create simple delicious food from humble ingredients - she also believes she’s the keeper of the best secret spice mixes. @chandrikakhullar /@lorettaoncuba

Joshua Cruzat - Chef

Josh is the senior sous chef and soon to be co-head chef at Floriditas in Wellington. He is half Chilean and half Tongan and recently won 2023 Emerging Chef of the Year at the Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards. He spends every spare minute at Floriditas working on his craft and learning whatever it can teach him, and loves how hospitality is a place that encourages discipline, growth and community. Josh believes there is more to food than just cooking the best meals and appreciates the shared love of food you can find everywhere from local producers and fish mongers to community gardeners, organic specialists and even the delivery drivers! @just_your_average_cook_ / @floriditas

Victoria Bernard - Educator / Teacher

Victoria is an educator and teacher living in her dream job as Curriculum and Community Relations Manager for Garden to Table. She is on a mission to change Aotearoa’s future by engaging tamariki in the world of food all around them. She writes teaching resources for teachers and has a love of good, simple food and the skills it takes to get it to the table. These resources make links between subject areas by connecting students to ratios in maths by making salad dressings, connecting kids to the ancient techonologies of early Māori through the Aotearoa Histories Curriculum through growing kūmara and connecting them to their digestive system through Rude Food. Through her work she is committed to bringing children into the food conversation. @gardentotablenz

Fiona Williams - Nutritionist

Fiona is an Associate Registered Nutritionist who is passionate about all things kai. She currently works for He Puāwai Trust, an organisation that is working toward resilient local kai across Te Awa Kairangi / Lower Hutt. She believes food is a powerful tool we have to benefit our hauora wellbeing. In her mahi she aims to support healthy people, through investing in education and hands on experience with kai to build kai resilience. Having just completed her Master of Applied Science in Advanced Nutrition Practice, here she studied nutrition, food security, health promotion and how kai impacts health. Fiona's Linked In

Abigail Stewart - Red Meat Industry Graduate

Abigail is a passionate female working in New Zealand’s Red Meat Industry, as a 2023/2024 Alliance Farmers’ Produce Graduate. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Business Management at Otago University, she received one of the few graduate positions, where she rotates around all aspects of the business, and is currently based at the Dannevirke Meat Processing Plant. She has a special interest the red meat industry and NZ’s primary sector and is eager to add value to our food system in this space. She’s loved learning to aitch-bone in the boning room and even ran her own egg and produce distribution business during high school. @abbystewarts

Whakatū / Nelson

Lauren Yap - Brewer / Winemaker

Lauren is a brewer, a winemaker, and potter, who loves hops, grapes and honey bees and is passionate about inclusivity and equity in the beer and wine industries. Hailing from Portland, Oregon - it was here she studied environmental science and horticulture. Alongside her partner Jim, she owns Brood Fermentation, where they farm an organic vineyard and make minimal intervention wine and brew unfiltered beer. At her day job in the hop industry, she preaches the good word of NZ grown hops to brewers all over the world. As a trained beer judge, she also sits on the board of Pink Boots New Zealand, a nonprofit that supports women in the craft beer sector through education and scholarships. @lozyap / @broodfermentation

Canterbury / Waitaha

Olivia Johnson - Fermenter / Small Food Producer

Olivia is a mum, wife, an artist, a fermenter and small food producer. Through her business Wild Child Ferments, she is working hard to create a product for the North Canterbury community that makes them feel great. She primarily makes sauerkraut for sale at her local markets, and through her range she wants to encourage people to think about where their food comes from, what’s in it and the processes it goes through to get to the product they see, smell and taste. She believes fermentation is a beautiful transformative process that occurs through respecting and nurturing microbes. @wildchildfermentsnz

Eileen Prasad - Chef

Eileen is a Fijian-born chef with a strong heritage mix of Polynesian and Indian. She came to New Zealand when she was just 12 years old, was brought up in Taranaki and has been living, studying and working in Christchurch for the past 6 years. She completed her Diploma in Advanced Cookery Level 5 at ARA, where she was named top cookery student in 2019. Since then she has been working as a chef across Christchurch, currently for the Aikmans Group at various establishments including Aikmans and Brigittes. She is looking forward to getting a chance to represent her ethnic group on a bigger platform. @iameileenprasad

Kaitlin Dawson - Food Waste Champion

Kaitlin leads NZ Food Waste Champions 12.3 Trust, a nonprofit that has a vision of an Aotearoa where food is valued and not wasted alongside Kai Commitment, an agreement for businesses to reduce their food waste. With a personal drive to find collaborative solutions to our systemic problems, Kaitlin has entrenched herself in waste minimisation for the past decade. When she isn’t tackling waste you’ll find her exploring the hills around her home in Ōtautahi with her young family. @_kaitlindawson / @nzchampions123 / @kaicommitment

Theo Dubost - Chef

Theo is a chef with a background in classic french cuisine and is currently working at Greystone in North Canterbury. He’s had years of experience across France and Canada, including three restaurants holding coveted Michelin stars. Since being in New Zealand he has learned a lot about local produce and seasonality and is passionate about producing food in harmony with the local environment. At Greystone he’s enjoying having the freedom to creating dishes from organic and sustainable farm-to-table produce and changing the menu regularly to reflect the seasons. @tdubost / @greystonewines

Ōtākou / Otago

Daniellé du Plooy - PHD Student

Danielle is a compassionate, values-driven individual who deeply cares for both the human and more-than-human world. She strives to help cultivate impactful socio-ecological relationships and strengthen community resilience through thoughtful action and everyday decision-making. She is currently nearing the second year of her PhD at the University of Otago, focused on human behavior and food networks.

Alby Hailes - Food Writer / Doctor

Alby is a doctor, mental health advocate and food writer, with a passion for flavour-packed food that makes us feel good. His work and food philosophy are built around the power of food in connecting us to whenua, whānau and self to promote mental wellness. For the past decade he’s been writing recipes for New Zealanders which has led him to recently publishing his debut cookbook Good Vibes: Eat well with feel-good flavours. Knowledge and understanding of mental health (from medical education, work and lived experience), and the wide-reaching impacts of our food systems and nutrition on mental wellbeing. @albyhailes

Murihiku / Southland

Louise Evans - Storyteller / Designer

Lou is the imaginative force behind Wee Magazine, dedicated to eating her way through Southland's many food stories. As a storyteller, connector, and experiential designer, her work is a celebration of the creativity, craftsmanship, and courage of Southland's foodies and artisans and their love for what they do. Previously the Chief Activator at COIN South, she connected and nurtured food-based startups in the region. She is driven to continue to elevate Southland's food culture however she can. @weeandfree

Nicole McKnight - Regenerative Flower Farmer / Food Grower

Nicole grows stunning sustainable flowers, delicious nutritious food and open pollinated seeds - together - creating thriving ecosystems that support soil, plant and animal health. She dreams big and thinks creatively. Above all she truly believes in the transformative power of growing and connecting to our kai for individuals and communities. Alongside her husband and two boys, over the past decade they have been transforming their land into a permaculture farm where they grow a large percentage of what they eat. @festival_farm

Toni Auld - Farmer / Distiller

Toni is a grain and sheep farmer in Southland who alongside her husband has built Auld Farm Distillery from the ground up. Seven years ago they looked beyond traditional farm income streams and started producing award-winning whiskies, gins and other spirits from the wheat, oats and barley grown on their 200ha Arable farm. Fueled by passion and a vision to create a future for her children and her local community, sustainability, story telling and connection are super important to her. A budding Clinical Hypnotherapist Toni loves to see and celebrate others successes and believes everyone deserves to thrive in life. She and her husband Rob were recently named 2023 Arable Food Champions. @aulddistillery

*Stay tuned over on our Eat NZ Socials over the next few weeks to learn more about these epic humans.*


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