The Dominion Post
Hospitality sector lights up the capital
Keep an eye out for Wellington-themed meals in your favourite restaurants, and world-class entertainers on stages this week, as the curtain rises on a brand-new foodie festival.
Eat, Drink, Play will run for 10 days, from today until May 16, and celebrates the city’s food and beverage scene with over 100 venues, some creating Wellington-themed meal and drink pairings, world-class entertainment and events, and exclusive accommodation offers from Wellington’s hotels.
Hospitality NZ chief executive Julie White said it was the first time the industry body had created a festival, in response to the challenge of Covid-19.
Hospitality had a wide effect on the local economy.
‘‘Twenty-five per cent of New Zealand’s horticulture revenue is generated from sales to New Zealand restaurants and there is a huge focus on showcasing local produce in this festival,’’ White said. ‘‘Venues are also major employers, hiring staff and paying for entertainers. When hospitality is doing well, we are all doing well.’’
The festival aligned perfectly with the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble, ‘‘the cherry on top’’.
At last night’s festival launch held at the
Wharewaka Function Centre, Rongotai MP Paul Eagle welcomed the collaboration of restaurants and the entertainment sector.
‘‘It’s called Eat, Drink and Play. I love those words. It’s much better than pipes, lights and fights.’’
Wellington City Council deputy mayor Sarah Free said there was a lot of talent in Wellington. ‘‘We also have a lot of goodwill for making things better.’’
WellingtonNZ chief executive John Allen said the event would bring energy and pulse into the city. ‘‘But it’s more than just that. It’s jobs, jobs for people in our hospitality industry that have been doing it rather hard last year. It’s money in the pockets of people in the city. It’s money in the pockets of food growers around our region. It creates all kinds of opportunity.’’
President of the Wellington branch of Hospitality NZ Paul Retimanu, who runs several hospitality establishments in the city, said Wellingtonians had responded amazingly well to recent events.
Eat, Drink, Play received $100,000 from the Government’s Covid-19 recovery
fund, and is a collaboration between Hospitality NZ, WellingtonNZ, and the Wellington City Council.
White said events ranged from Dirty Little Drag Bingo, where some ‘‘natural performers’’ would be running the competition, to a Psychic Supper at Leroy’s, where guests would receive an insightful psychic reading with their meal.
For one night only, renowned Press Hall chicken specialist Lucky is going vegan, and The Iron Horse in Miramar dives into the world of Burlesque, which is nearly sold out.