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The Visa WOAP team - Festival highlights 2022

September 5, 2022

Most of the Visa Wellington On a Plate team at the Sea Breeze Inn. From left to right: Sarah, Kelly, Clem, Brandie, Alice, Jade, Rose, Jessica, Riki and Beth (missing are Ange, Gillian, Ryan and Castle)

Visa Welly On a Plate is done and dusted for 2022. Thanks to everyone who went out to Eat Curious and Experience a Taste of Change. Our theme this year was 'A State of Flux' and once again, all the participating venues pushed the boundaries and flexed their creative muscle to serve an innovative and delicious festival programme. We hope you created many fond memories with friends and whānau. We are looking forward to serving you Visa Wellington On a Plate in 2023, which will kick off for the first helping in May for festival events, pop-ups, Dine and Cocktail Wellington. In August we will be all about beer and burgers with the return of Beervana alongside Burger Wellington. Until then, enjoy these festival highlights from the team!

Sarah Meikle – CEO

I’m so lucky each year that I get to try lots of events and dishes throughout Visa Wellington On a Plate. It’s hard to pick a favourite experience, but this year I had a number of memorable ones…! Early on in the festival I just loved the Crayfish Poneke at Boulcott Street Bistro and Fly Away at Mr Go’s. These were both awesome Dine Wellington dishes that both told their own special story about what “Wellington On a Plate” truly is. This year there were also some fantastic events. I loved Dine like a Royal at Bellamys by Logan Brown. What a treat to have the restaurant to ourselves to mark such a special occasion! This year’s collaboration between Atlas and Black Estate Wines from Wairarapa was super special. It was great to see Olly, the Black Estate chef, back in the kitchen in Wellington. Finally, right at the end of the Festival I just loved the Beast of a Feast at Wellington Zoo. This dinner was cleverly designed based around some of the zoo’s most loved animals and it was so special to pair the evening with a private tour of the zoo!

Beth Brash – Head of Programming

I was blown away by many of the events I went to which had a personal story and exploration through food. Shout out to Jonny Taggart and his deeply moving exploration into his first nations Canadian roots, still thinking about that oyster custard, and both Dhruv Mohan of Whistling Sisters and Kab Khun Yāy of Kisa remembering their grandmothers food.

I also enjoyed heading to Everybody Eats every Monday for the Next Gen Cook Off, not only to see what Wellington's "one-to-watch" chefs could do with the mystery box of produce they got that day, but to also see the food of Wellington's top chefs accessible to such wide and varying community.

Chaat Street 'Dabeli' burger for Garage Project presents Burger Wellington

Gillian Monahan – Head of Marketing

This year’s festival was a delicious reminder of the creativity, eccentricity, and sense of community that brought me back to Wellington after too many years overseas.

I loved the glamour of World’s Four Seasons of Fragrance & Flavour, the feel-good food of the Next Gen Cook Off at Everybody Eats, and the spicy hybrid of Jewish Indian cuisine at Field & Green’s pop-up - Kosher & Spice. I indulged in several burgers and beers during the month, but my favourites were Chaat Street’s vegetarian Dabeli burger and Brown’s Bay Brewing Company’s Toffee Pop Porter at Beervana.

For me, the absolute highlight of Visa Wellington On a Plate 2022 was Made in Syria by the team at Damascus. The hummus, labneh, baklava and salads were all amazing, of course. But what made this event truly special was the family behind the food. We were greeted on arrival at the Vogelmorn Bowling Club by a charming four-year-old, seated at shared trestle tables, and heard Hasan and Flora’s story of immigrating to Wellington and starting Damascus. After eating far too much we sat on couches, drunk wine, and told stories. It genuinely felt like a family event. That’s what I love about Wellington On a Plate: the opportunity to meet new people and discovery more about our city’s communities through food.

Our Wellington Food Stories Speaker Series at Te Papa

Kelly Fleming – Marketing Manager

Events, burgers, cocktails ... oh my! This year I really tried to dive into all the different types of festival offerings, and I am sure glad I did! Pre my employment with the Festival I hung out with the ticketed events and burger crowd however the highlight for me this year was the pop up offerings. I managed to hit The Sea Breeze Inn, Saigon Street Eatery at Egmont St. Eatery, the Wellington Food Stories Speaker Series at Te Papa, Milk & Cookies by the team behind Le Samouraï and Lost In Space: Hong Kong to Xi'an by the incredible crew at Atlas

Along with that hefty list, I adored Kosher & Spice at Field & Green with Laura Greenfield putting on an absolute joy of a culinary journey. 

The most outstanding for me was Italiani D'Argentina at Cicio Cacio Osteria in Newtown - I'd never made it out to the restaurant before and I can tell you without a doubt I have been missing out. The gnocchi and dulce de leche crepe are going to live rent free in my head for a long time yet - bellissimo and muy bien!

Rose Cunningham – Programme Coordinator

The biggest highlight for me was joining the team during the festival! It's been a great experience and I’m excited to be getting into the planning process for next year. This year I particularly enjoyed ‘The Orb of Power’ event at L’affare, ‘Made in Syria’ at Damascus (can’t wait to see their new space) and attending my first Beervana

Next Gen. Cook Off by Everyobdy Eats pop up event at LTD.

Jade Lucas – PR & Communications Manager

August was a whirlwind to be honest, however the stand outs for me were the pop-ups. I loved Hong Kong to Xi'an at Atlas, who knew something as simple as fried rice could taste so good? The fun vibe and super fresh flavours of Saigon St. Eatery by the team at Egmont St. Eatery were great, and the Kosher & Spice pop up at Field & Green was amazing, I am still thinking about the vibrancy of flavour in the curries and chutneys. Beer has a special place in my heart, so Beervana for me was a real love affair and I got to finally meet Bruce Jones who is our biggest fan and happens to be the coolest octogenarian in the world.  But, if I had to choose one thing my favourite event of them all was The Next Gen Cook Off at Everybody Eats at LTD.  I hadn't been to Everybody Eats before, and was blown away by the energy each of the chefs brought every week, the communal vibe of eating at a shared table, and being treated to a phenomenal three course meal made from food that would otherwise have gone to waste. I can't wait to do it all again! 

Jessica Hewitt – Content Creator & Marketing Support

My highlights were the range of vegetarian and plant-based options available this year. Especially Chaat Street's Dabeli burger for Garage Project presents Burger Wellington, whose potato patty had such unique flavours (definitely not what you would expect from any burger)! As well as Beach Babylon's plant-based alternative "Wholly cow" which had great textures and flavour pairing. Although Sea Shore Cabaret didn't have a vegetarian option for their burger, I'm still thinking about their curly fries to this date! It also came with the Garage Project beer Kohaku, a roast rice amber lager, which was super tasty!

Visa Wellington On a Plate new opening event: the Sea Breeze Inn

Andrew Castle – Sponsorship Manager

It was fantastic to be able to come back to the normality of an uninterrupted August of fantastic events, dine dishes, cocktails, burgers and beers. The month of festivities could not have got off to a better start with the Sea breeze Inn presented by Visa. The talent in the kitchen, the scores of people in the pop up restaurant made this one of our best ever launch events. The love of Seafood is set in New Zealanders and the kaimoana on offer was some of the best I’ve ever had.

Beervana is always a highlight in the middle of August, with the boundless creativity of the breweries festival beers and their stands is astonishing! A couple of festival events highlights would have to be Orb of Power at l'Affare and Made in Syria at Damascus. The Orb of Power was extremely interactive and engaging. The story line and theatre of the event provided excellent entertainment. Made In Syria at Damascus was a true highlight. It is genuinely hard to put into words how amazing the taste, flavours and food combinations were. Last but certainly not least Garage Project presents Burger Wellington. It’s so very hard to choose some highlights from these amazing burger creations but I have to do a shout out to the Thistle Inn, Huxley's and Neo Café as my Burger picks for the festival. Can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Ryan McArthur – Beervana Manager

Oysters. Oysters and Cocktails. Oysters at the Sea Breeze Inn. Oysters at InterContinental. Oysters at Beervana. and a bunch of great cocktails around town with Pravda a particular highlight. 

Bambuchisan pop up: Around the World

Clem Rebouillat – Content & Digital

This year has been the year of the Pop-ups for me! I was amazed by how creative and delicious all the pop-ups were:

  • The Milk & Cookies pop-up at the Little Cookie Shop fulfilled all my sweet tooth cravings (can't go wrong with a cookie + milk combo)
  • the Italiani D'Argentina pop-up at Cicio Cacio took my taste buds to Argentina and introduced me to flavours I never experienced before
  • I also went Around the World with Bambuchisan. The best gluten-free food I've ever tasted
  • the Pickle & Pie's NYC Hot Dog which brought back some sweet memories from a trip to the US East Coast back in 2017
  • Field & Green's Kosher & Spice pop-up made me travel back in time and space in an incredible exploration of Chef Laura Greenfield's Jewish legacy. Such a great interpretation of this year's theme: A State of Flux.