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5 minutes with Rachel Taulelei

We talk toWellington on a Plate Chair and 'Master Shucker' Rachel Taulelei about this year's festival highlights.

5 minutes with Rachel Taulelei

1.   Why did you decide to get involved with WOAP and what does it mean to you? 

I have a couple of WOAP hats.  I participate in the festival Events programme as Master Shucker at The The Oyster Saloon, and Co-Curator of Pecha Kucha: Imbibe; I’m also Chair of the Wellington on a Plate Advisory Board.

I decided to get involved as I’m a really passionate Wellingtonian and an active member of the hospitality community – when you couple them, it’s a no brainer. The festival is a showcase of Wellington’s excellence in the cuisine space, and a demonstration of how collegial the hospitality community is – it’s truly unique in that respect.

2.  What is involved in organising such a large event? 

Organising the event takes an inordinate amount of planning – and so far in advance. For the 2014 event, planning starts just as the last plate is put away in 2013! It’s a balancing act with so many stakeholders, but the team do an incredible job balancing the number of events, mixing new events with perennial favourites, and ensuring there’s always a fresh approach.

The advisory group is a sounding board – we’re all in the industry so provide a litmus test of sorts. Everyone leaves their agendas at the door as quite honestly what’s good for the city is good for all of our respective businesses.

3.  What can visitors to WOAP expect at this year’s festival? How does it differ from other years and what are some of the highlights? 

Visitors can expect to eat and drink, a lot. It’s not uncommon for people to spreadsheet the two and half weeks of the festival so they don’t miss out…it serious imbibing!  But an enormous amount of fun.

Whatever your interest is, you’ll find it at Wellington on a Plate – fashion, art, kids cooking, craft beer, music, food trucks, hands on classes, cerebral presentations about food, trips back through a region’s history, cocktails, coffee, photography and food styling, every kind of cultural food…and on it goes.

I’d say 75% of the events are new this year, and 100% of the Dine menus are new – it’s refreshed every year to keep people in their toes. Highlights for me – The Oyster Saloon, Martin Bosley’s Gate to Plate, The Roxy’s food film series, Monsoon Poon’s Burgundy and Peking Duck lunch,  Ti Kouka and Hummingbird burgers, and Ruth Pretty’s Pipi Trail.

4.   Why Wellington? What do you think it is about this city that draws so much interest in and around food? 

I say why not!? Wellington has everything you can ask for in a big city, only without all of the fuss and noise.  Our geography provides a stunning natural amphitheatre, inside which you find some of world’s best wine, beer, restaurants, coffee, artisan producers, cocktail masters, markets, and above all, people.  Wellingtonians are undeniably parochial and we’re passionate about people enjoying the time they have in the city.

5.  As a business owner yourself how important are festivals like WOAP to local businesses? 

WOAP is huge for local business.  It’s intentionally held at a time when the industry is quiet, and it gives it a much needed shot in the arm.  It’s an opportunity to meet new suppliers and clients, for consumers to try new restaurants, and across the board for the industry to stay on top of their game.

Wellington on a Plate kicks of with the MiNDFOOD hosted dinner at Prefab on August 9th. For more information visit:

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