• Wellington Culinary Events Trust

Wellington Culinary Events Trust

The Wellington Culinary Events Trust (WCET) is a not-for-profit charitable trust that was established in February 2014. WCET was established as a result of the growing success of our cornerstone event, Visa Wellington On a Plate.

WCET’s principal objective is "to promote Wellington city and region as the premium New Zealand food and beverage destination". This objective ensures WCET’s focus is on building a proposition that supports the region’s food and drink industry throughout the year.

The culinary and hospitality community provide a critical component of Wellington’s cultural offering. WCET’s role is to champion this. We work with a wide range of stakeholders and partners to deliver a delicious and diverse range of events and programmes, for consumers and for the industry.

What we do

WCET delivers three iconic food and drink festivals in Wellington:

Positively Wellington Tourism and Grow Wellington (both now part of WellingtonNZ) established Visa Wellington On a Plate in 2009 with an initial aim of supporting Wellington’s hospitality community in their toughest month. 

Visa Wellington On a Plate has since grown to become the largest food festival in the Southern Hemisphere. 

For more information, check out the Festival Information page.

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The WCET acquired Beervana in May 2015. Beervana is New Zealand's ultimate celebration of good beer, offering attendees the opportunity to sample the latest offerings from breweries in New Zealand, as well as  a few handpicked from around the world. 

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Highball is New Zealand’s most exciting cocktail and spirits celebration. The finest of New Zealand craft spirits and cocktails are mixed with education and imbibing. 

Hosted at the iconic Wellington Dominion Museum, Highball is an immersive two-day celebration showcasing some of the best purveyors of cocktails and spirits New Zealand and the world has to offer!

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Who we are

At the Wellington Culinary Events Trust we're a small team, dedicated to supporting the Wellington hospitality scene and bringing world-class events to the capital.

Sarah Meikle, Festival Director & CEO

Sarah is Chief Executive of the Wellington Culinary Events Trust (WCET) and Director of Food + Drink New Zealand. 

She has more than 25 years’ experience in both the food and tourism sectors, having  previously worked for Tourism New Zealand (in New Zealand, India and the UK) and the Wellington regional tourism organisation, Positively Wellington Tourism (now WellingtonNZ). She is well connected with local chefs, producers, and commentators, and has a growing international network of chefs and food tourism experts.

In 2023, Sarah was named one of New Zealand’s Most Influential Women in Food & Drink by Cuisine Magazine. Sarah is currently Board Director of Palliser Estates Wines of Martinborough, a trustee of Good Bitches Baking, an executive member of Eat New Zealand, a Board Member of the New Zealand Events Association, Board Member of RotoruaNZ, and a member of the Institute of Directors.

Angela Fisher, Finance Manager

Ange is our chief number cruncher; she runs a tight ship and keeps everyone in check. She'd love to say the highlight of her year is the yearly budget, but actually, it's organising and running the Beervana Merch stand and predicting which brewery t-shirt will sell best that year. She's an expert on sandwiches and is always up for trying the latest new restaurant opening.

Brandie Stephens, Office Manager

Born and raised in the USA, Brandie began her career organising teams, projects, and events in the video game industry. She moved to Wellington with her family 15 years ago and started a made-to-order sweet pie bakery during her children's school years. Being a superfan of Visa Wellington On a Plate and Beervana make her job the happiest marriage of skills, community, and interest. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters and enjoys hiking, bulk shopping and planning her next trip.

Penny de Borst, Head of Business Development

Penny is all about building connections and creating solutions. She's got 20 years’ experience in partnerships and business development, working in New Zealand and London across advertising sales, brand partnerships, sponsored content, and heading up the sales team for a business consultancy.

Penny's a coffee-fan who can’t go past a freshly baked cinnamon roll. She’s organised, strategic, and gets things done. Outside of work, she’ll be doing something related to roller derby, hiking, music, movies, or camping.

Beth Brash, Visa Wellington On a Plate Manager

A lifelong passion for food and drink has taken her from sneaking olives and blue cheese from the fridge as a kid and elaborate multicourse flat dinners, to blogging about the lesser-known faces behind Wellington’s beloved restaurants, to publishing a book on Wellington’s most famous street. She has a love of beer, which led her to running Beervana, New Zealand’s ultimate celebration of good beer, for several years.

Today she is the Visa Wellington On a Plate Manager, the southern hemisphere’s largest culinary event. To call her a foodie is an understatement, Beth lives, breathes and eats her passion for Wellington hospitality. 

Ryan McArthur, Beervana Manager

Ryan has been involved in the Beer Industry in various forms, guises and disguises for 16 odd years (very odd years). His association with Beervana began when he volunteered in 2008. He then followed the festival to Wellington Regional Stadium, overseeing the beer for four years. He eventually started managing the festival at the end of 2018.

He lives in Featherston with a cat, a dog, some chickens, two kids and is married to a German.

Gillian Monahan, Head of Marketing & Communications

Gillian has over 20 years of experience in marketing and communications, leading inhouse and agency teams for leading brands, including Tourism New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, Qatar Airways, and Intrepid Travel. In 2017 she was named Travel PR of the Year by Travel Weekly Australia. After 17 years in the UK and Australia, she is now rediscovering Wellington’s food and beverages, especially the cheese scones.

While Gillian won’t claim to be a culinary genius, her great-grandfather was a chef for the Governor General and one of Wellington’s first restaurateurs.

Kelly Fleming, Brand & Marketing Manager

Kelly has been a marketing professional for over 10 years. She's a fierce defender of brand and thrives on seeing campaigns come to life.

As a long time fan of the festival and food lover, Kelly was thrilled to join the Trust in early 2022. 

In her spare time Kelly is a Surf Lifeguard for the Paekākāriki Surf Club and competes in Surf Boat rowing. She loves getting out and about with her dog, Arlo, and exploring the bush walks the region has to offer. When the weather won't play along for her outdoor loves, she's checking out the latest restaurants or getting into her kitchen to bake.


PR & Social Media Manager

Governance

Wellington Culinary Events Trust is governed by the WCET Board. The Board is made up of an inspiring group of leaders in their field.

Grant has spent his career working in marketing and communications, across numerous roles. Grant has served on the WCET board since 2015 and chaired the Audit and Risk committee before taking over the role of Trust Chair in October 2017.

Mike has been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years. Mike currently co-owns Boulcott St Bistro, Burger Liquor, Monsoon Poon Wellington & Auckland as well as Terrace Villas Serviced Apartments. Since 2007 he has been the National President Restaurant Association of New Zealand.

Marty has more than 20 years of experience in financial services and payments across the UK, Europe, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.  Marty is currently working with a number of emerging New Zealand/United Kingdom companies as an investor and advisor.

David Perks has held leadership positions in the promotion and development of Wellington for more than a decade. David was instrumental in leading the creation of Visa WOAP and the establishment of the WCET back in 2009 when he was the CEO of Positively Wellington Tourism.

Terry is enjoying life in her second career.  After 18 years in the IT industry, Terry moved to where she can focus on what she is most passionate about. She is the Chief Excitement Officer for Young Enterprise Trust and is Chair of PledgeMe, a social enterprise helping Kiwis fund the things they care about.

Paul Sinclair is a co-owner and Director of OFNZ Ltd, an exporter of professional services, technology, and FMCG products to the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

As a former commercial fisherman, Parliamentary administrator, PR and advertising executive, with a decade of start-up and early-stage commercialisation experience in his background, Paul brings a commercially pragmatic and international perspective to the WCET’s work programme.

Sarah was the co-founder of the highly successful natural skincare company Trilogy. She and her sister sold this business in 2010 and Sarah now focuses her time on philanthropic endeavours as well as supporting various exciting entrepreneurial projects.

Contact us

If you have any questions about WCET, please email us.

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