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The Visa WOAP Team Festival Highlights - Looking back on a month of feasting

August 30, 2019

Well, we’ve made it. We’re almost at the end of the very first ever FULL MONTH of Visa Wellington On a Plate. (Are you full yet?!) 

Obviously, a lot has happened…. International chefs, dishes to send your tastebuds into the stratosphere, burgers to wrap your laughing gear around (over and over), cocktails to sup, events, pop-ups, masterclasses and more. 

With one more day of the festival to go, we thought we would take a look back on the Visa Wellington On a Plate and Beervana team’s Festival highlights (cue Vitamin C’s ‘Graduation’).  

Sarah Meikle, Festival Director   

“I just love the diversity of the festival, and the chance to work with, not only local chefs, but chefs from all over the world. It’s so cool giving them to opportunity to visit Wellington and New Zealand, and see their reactions to our restaurants and local ingredients. 

“For many, it’s their first visit to New Zealand and they are totally blown away by the hospitality and friendliness of the people they meet here. This is a real legacy of the festival, which is awesome!”

Eduardo Jordan.

The Hiakai Hangi team.

Beth Brash, Festival Programme Manager

“For me, there has been some great moments that have happened in the background, such as seeing the long-lasting friendships form between the visiting chefs and their hosted restaurants

“Seeing social media posts of [restaurant and bar] owners giving their staff huge props for the amazing work they’re doing over the festival. 

“Lastly I love reading the in-depth discussions online about burgers. Who knew maneuverability, juiciness and slippage could be contributing factors when deciding your next meal?” 

May Chow with the team at Mr Go's.


Lucia Cameron, Festival Intern

“My favourite part of the festival was being able to immerse myself in what is probably (definitely, Lucia!) the greatest food festival in the world! 

“And being able to experience food I had never tried before - looking at you, scallops!”

Lucia's first scallop at Escape to Ngā Manu.


Andy Stantiall, Festival Marketing Coordinator

Kismet at Rita [with Los Angeles chef, Sara Kramer] was as close as you can get to a spiritual experience with food. I'm also now a ‘shared plates’ convert. 

“It was also amazing to see the foundation of a lifelong foodie friendship between the teams at Rita and Kismet.” 

Kismet at Rita

Naomie Lye, Festival Sponsorship Manager

“Having the opportunity to experience events in places from my local cafes and restaurants to the likes of the Beehive (at Bellamy’s), both the British and the Australian High Commission residences and Rimutaka Prison. It really demonstrates the diversity in how Visa Wellington On a Plate brings the community together.”   

The Visa WOAP team with the Australian High Commissioner at "A Night at Bonnie Doon".


JoAnne Carr, Festival PR & Communications Manager

“Culinary highlights included [Kiwi-born London chef] Margot Henderson’s anchovy dip, served at her chef collaboration with Loretta (can’t stop thinking about it); Cocoro and Logan Brown’s chef collaboration, Heart & Soul (Japanese food at Logan Brown - heart eyes!), and Beervana, which is such a fun time, and showcases New Zealand’s stellar beer community. 

“I also loved working with restaurants, chefs and journalists to tell the wonderful stories behind Wellington’s food scene and its people. We have such a special culinary community here, who simply love food and work so hard to share that passion with others. 

“Something I’ve constantly heard from Aucklanders in the last month was how envious they were of the capital’s culinary festival, how the city gets behind it, and of our hospitality community. I think that speaks volumes. Kind of like your older sibling giving you a pat on the back.”

"Heart & Soul" with Cocoro at Logan Brown.

"BFFs" with Margot Henderson at Loretta

Ryan McArthur, Beervana Manager

“Survived producing a Beervana that continued the evolution of the festival whilst keeping the high standards of previous years.

“I also loved seeing smaller breweries pull large audiences at Beervana. It was all about good beer doing good things for communities. 

“Lastly, meeting and introducing our brewers, who were here on the Beervana brewers exchange from the United Kingdom, to New Zealand and the Kiwi beer community.” 

Ryan with our visiting UK brewers, Gaz from Tiny Rebel and Dave from Fierce Beer.


Leisa Robb, Festival Project Manager

“I loved learning about the incredible conservation work Dan Steele at Blue Duck Station is doing, when I attended the Blue Duck Station at Homewood event at the British High Commissioner's residence. 

“Other highlights included meeting and working with some inspiring international chefs - and, of course, bringing No Way Crochet to life with Chili Philly!” 

"No Way Crochet". Photos by @alicelloydcreates 

Melissa Davey, Marketing & Communications Manager

“Where to start? Visa Wellington On a Plate 2019 has been incredible. I've been so lucky to experience the transformative Rimutaka Prison Gate to Plate programme, meet and interview amazing international and local chefs and creative talent, channel my inner shazza at A Night at Bonnie Doon, meet dedicated Festival fans, and see and hear the love people have for the festival. And, of course, I've thoroughly enjoyed eating and drinking all the delicious treats. 

“But overall, a personal highlight has been the pleasure of working with a highly committed, skilled and hard working team that brings this unique culinary festival celebrating the very best of Wellington to life each year. To see this from the inside has been exhilarating. 

“Now for a lie down and a cup of jasmine tea.”