In front of industry peers, the Restaurant Association of New Zealand celebrated four of its best and brightest at the Feast by Famous Chefs dinner in Auckland last week.

It saw Sue Fleischl inducted into the Association’s Hall of Fame, Kerikeri Café owners Therese and Mats Wickbom named as the industry’s inaugural Good Neighbour, ConversatioNZ took out the Innovator Award and industry icon Don Fletcher was awarded a Lifetime Membership Award.

“We are extremely proud to honour Sue as a deserving member of the hall of Fame, and equally delighted, in conjunction with sponsor American Express, to recognise Therese and Mats as our Good Neighbour and along with sponsor Bidvest, to recognise Giulio Sturla and the ConversatioNZ movement which he founded,” said Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association.

Inductees into the Association’s Hall of Fame have made an extensive and ongoing commitment to new Zealand’s hospitality industry. The Hall of Fame award has been previously conferred on industry greats such as Simon Gault, Michael Van de Elzen, Steve Logan, Judith Tabron, Des Britten, Tony Astle and Ruth Pretty. It is voted on by members of the association.

Bidois said that Fleischl, owner of the Great Catering Company has been a major contributor to the hospitality scene in New Zealand for nearly 25 years.

Therese and Mats Wickborn, joint owners of Café Cinema in Kerikeri, are the Association’s Good Neighbour for 2016, sponsored by American Express, who selected the winner from a shortlist of worthy finalists.
Bidois said that Café Cinema owners support many local schools and community organisations. In particular, they are long time fundraisers for the
“The Wickborn’s backing of the community is outstanding. From a $3 muffin for a hungry child to a $45000.00 fundraising campaign for Kids in the Mid North Hospice, and a mammoth Guinness World Record ‘Head Shave’ Event attracting over 3000 people and raising $60k the Northland charity, Bald Angels Charitable Trust.
“The ways that the Northland community is assisted show real insight and innovation. From starting their own charity, to supporting the local Hospice, there’s almost nothing that these two won’t do to help their hometown.
“We couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient of the Good Neighbour Award. Therese and Mats Wickborn from Café Cinema have set a very high standard for others to follow.”
The Wickborn’s will receive a $2,000 grant to further their community initiatives.

Making New Zealand’s Food Famous. This is the philosophy behind our 2016 Innovator Award winner, sponsored by Bidvest, which was awarded this year to a movement initiated by chefs, media, producers and other people in the food industry with the common aim of highlighting the quality and vast array of edible resources available in New Zealand. The collaboration is called ConversatioNZ and was founded in 2015 by Roots Restaurant chef and owner, Giulio Sturla. The movement aims to provide a platform in which culinary tourism becomes much more significant in New Zealand, so we can have the opportunity to show our food and our people to the world. This is an initiative we resoundingly support!

Industry icon, restaurateur Don Fletcher was also recognised by the Restaurant Association and awarded a Lifetime Membership Award for his services to the Restaurant Association and to the industry. Don Fletcher is a New Zealand hospitality icon, running a number of prominent restaurant businesses throughout the 80’s and 90s, including Hotel DeBrett, Kilarney St and Iguacu Restaurant in Auckland. He is a past national president of the Restaurant Association and former Chairman of the Restaurant Association Education Trust.