STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Now ConversatioNZ has achieved its crowdfunding target, what’s next for the movement? THOMAS HEATON reports.
The ConversatioNZ team tells Thomas Heaton what’s in store for the future
CONVERSATIONZ BEGAN with unanswered questions. Chef Giulio Sturla, whose Lyttelton restaurant Roots was named Restaurant of the Year at the 2015 Cuisine Good Food Awards, wants answers. He, at least, wants a discussion about New Zealand’s food system.
“I’m a very curious person, and have many questions in my head,” Sturla says.
“Why are we creating food just to sell, rather than making it delicious? We are losing the taste of good food.”
He also wants the government to recognise what the country has in terms of food. “It’s just a conversation, it’s not criticising.”
As a way of addressing these questions, last year Sturla gathered together a group of like-minded people from the New Zealand food industry at the inaugural ConversatioNZ event in Christchurch. The aim was to create a new food community.
It was successful, but that success has been hindered by the fact that no one has had enough time to dedicate to the cause. Roots was acting as the driving force behind ConversatioNZ, and that wasn’t sustainable.
That’s where crowdfunding came in. While Sturla and his associates were obviously passionate about the cause, the PledgeMe campaign was required to reveal if the rest of the country was of the same mind. They also needed to raise enough money to employ someone to co-ordinate the conversation, and there was only so much they could give out of their own pockets. The goal was set at $30,000 and the campaign ran for a month. Ninety per cent of the pledges came in the final week, and in the final hours the target was reached, and then surpassed – finishing at close to $35,000.
The co-ordinator who will now be paid to work for ConversatioNZ parttime is Angela Clifford (pictured top right with Giulio Sturla). Clifford ran the crowdfunding campaign. “Just as beneficial as the money we raised is the awareness of the movement,” she says.
Restaurants from all around the country contributed in their own way, offering rewards for people who pledged a certain amount to the cause.
“What I found the most meaningful was the support around the country,” Clifford adds.
Sturla says the success of the campaign proves why this movement is needed. “The people in New Zealand decided, it’s not just us.
“Everybody wanted to talk, everybody wanted to say something.”
CONVERSATIONZ SYMPOSIUM 2016
ConversatioNZ will be holding one of its most important events to date in November. Themed “Why Kai?”, it will be hosted by food writer Lauraine Jacobs and speakers confirmed so far include Harlequin Public House’s Jonny Schwass, Monique Fiso of HiaKai, Tony Rogers from Tourism New Zealand and Jade Temepara from Kākano cafe. The symposium will be an opportunity to learn about the issues facing New Zealand’s food industry, as well as the beauty of the country’s produce. Sturla says it’s a similar concept to the annual MAD conference (the brainchild of Noma’s Rene Redzepi). The symposium will be held in coordination with Taste of Auckland from 9am on Sunday, November 20, at Western Springs. Tickets are $95 from iticket.co.nz and include entry to Taste of Auckland as well as lunch and drinks. • Cuisine is proud to be the media partner for ConversatioNZ. Stay tuned for updates in each issue.