Meet the most inspiring & influential
women in food & drink 2024


2024 International Women’s Day campaign theme underscored the crucial role of inclusion in achieving gender equality. It called for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes and create environments in which all women are valued and respected.

We hope these highlights from our magical day on 7 March at the Park Hyatt Auckland will inspire you to mark your calendars for next year and celebrate with us as we bring together women working within the diverse food-and-drink industry to connect and share their wealth of knowledge and ideas.

Congratulations to our spectacular Top 50 Women in Food & Drink 2024 and thank you to all of the wonderful women and men who came along to support, empower and help maintain an inclusive mindset at the Women In Food & Drink Awards 2024.

This year was our second awards event and the room was fulled to capacity with some of the most influential women within the food-and-drink industry. Thanks to chefs Kirsty Tie, Caroline Chang and Chika Miyawaki and to the team at Park Hyatt Auckland who made this event all the more special by demonstrating the art of true hospitality.

If you are a professional woman working within the New Zealand food-and-drink industry, why not join us by becoming a member? Together we can change the dialogue.

Hall of fame recipients 2024

With our Hall of Fame awards we recognise the pioneers who have greatly influenced, and continue to influence, the way we look at food and drink, and paved the way for us to continue their legacy.

Each of these talented women has earned a place within the hearts of our nation, unique in their strengths and approach and united by their passion and commitment to the outstanding flavours of Aotearoa. We welcome them into our hall of fame.

Meet the Top 50 women in food & Drink new zealand

Click on the images below to learn more about inspiring women

Supreme Woman In Food & Drink 2024

Nadia Lim

Nadia is the real deal having blossomed from her start as a young winner of New Zealand’s MasterChef competition to becoming a cook recognised in almost every household in the country. She has had her own cooking show and numerous TV appearances including as judge of MasterChef New Zealand and has authored many well-loved cookbooks as well as heading her own magazine. Co-founder and the face of My Food Bag, her most recent venture, with husband Carlos Bagrie, is the ownership and daily running of Royalburn Station in Central Otago. It is one of only two certified on-farm abattoirs in New Zealand and the pair run an inspiring farm shop in Arrowtown. Their genuine farm-to-plate operation produces premium-quality food that is sympathetic to their animals and the environment, and their lamb was recognised at the New Zealand Food Awards 2023, winning the primary sector award. Nadia’s energy, enthusiasm and leadership for the New Zealand food story are exemplary and she is an inspiration for so many across her diverse platforms in regards to what we eat and the consequences of the choices that we make. We are thrilled to recognise Nadia’s authentic and respected voice, incredible talent, passion and influence with this award.

Global Ambassador 2024

Jess Murphy

As the winner of our inaugural Global Ambassador for Women In Food & Drink Aotearoa New Zealand award, Wairoa-born Jess is an inspiration to all of us. Her world-renowned and award-winning restaurant Kai in Galway, Ireland is a World’s 50 Best Discovery restaurant and holds a Michelin Green Star. At Kai she uses local, organic produce, and 75% of all waste is recycled with the remaining 25% used to produce energy. She also works closely with Food Cloud, a zero-waste community which drives awareness of food-waste issues. Jess takes a slow food, farm-to-fork approach to her menu in a kitchen that is staffed 50% by women. She also finds the time to mentor emerging female chefs as well as working closely with the UN Refugee Agency. We could not be more proud of this impressive Kiwi woman who is an influential and inspirational international voice in the telling of our New Zealand food-and-drink story.

Evolving Woman In Food & Drink 2024

Aroha Jakicevich

Emerging spirits judge and liquor retail specialist, Aroha has risen to the management and board of family-owned Glengarry Wines (and Hancocks) through hard work and valuable experience on the floor. Her ability to shepherd and shape emerging brands has become an incredibly important source of feedback and insight for the New Zealand spirits industry. Her leadership and strategic input to the future of the business is seeing Glengarry on a path to a fourth generation of success, where her presence as a young Māori leader is also a significant part of her contribution. In an industry that presents great challenges for women to push to the fore, what will the conversations for the beverage industry look like over the next few years? Aroha is gaining respect and applause as she steps into the spotlight to lead us toward a more equitable future.

Annabel Langbein

Joyously celebrated by New Zealand foodies far and wide, it would be fair to say that Annabel is a true queen of Cuisine. The very first edition of this magazine in January 1987 showcased her already-impressive repertoire across al fresco summer eating, picnics with panache, getting moreish with mussels, festive with nibbles and bringing us the scoop on homemade ice creams and sorbets. Her love of good food has resulted in more than 30 cookbooks and three seasons of an award-winning television series sharing no-fail recipes on a national and international stage, and motivating us to cook simple, healthy meals.

Fleur Sullivan

The journey of this magnificent woman has been inspiring: from wild culinary adventures across the pubs of the West Coast; the glamorous 1970s hospo life in Queenstown; the establishment of the much-acclaimed Olivers in Clyde; and, of course, the now-legendary Fleurs Place where she drew the eyes of the world to the tiny town of Moeraki. Fleur has been instrumental in transforming two sleepy regional towns into international destinations and is instantly recognisable as one of our most-loved New Zealand restaurateurs with a career spanning well over 40 years. Fleur’s legacy is the story of her deep connection to the landscape around her, that of a charismatic woman steeped in unshakeable southern spirit. Fleur is what great and true hospitality is all about.

Alison Holst

A former columnist, radio host, food stylist and celebrity chef, Dame Alison passionately promoted New Zealand ingredients by showcasing them on her programmes. She has been a household face since the early days of television, has sold more than 4.5 million copies of her vast range of cookbooks and has taught thousands of New Zealanders to cook family-friendly food. Her influence was so effective that she was recruited by the Fishing, Dairy and Meat Boards to travel the world promoting the flavours of Aotearoa in overseas markets. Her service was recognised with several honours including being appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011, and her cookbook Meals with the Family is held at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Angela Clifford

As CEO of Eat New Zealand, Angela has influence across the entire Aotearoa food system from fishers and farmers to chefs to food banks, from health professionals through to food waste and food-security advocates. She is passionate about the traditions of Māori food systems being the key to our food sustainability and management of our future. “Angela is a visionary in so many ways. Her work with multiple agencies in local and regional councils, government and growers and producers is tireless. She runs workshops and educates so many, inspiring a desire to make a difference through food. She advocates for the future voices of our food system through Eat New Zealand Kaitaki and ensures that their voices are heard.”

Anna King Shahab

A talented freelance food-and-travel writer, Anna is perhaps best known for driving the Lazy Susan Facebook community of 36,600+ passionate Auckland-based foodies. She co-published Auckland Eats in 2021 and 2022 and has a new publication to be released this year. “Anna drives an approachable and community-driven conversation that showcases the diversity of Auckland eateries. In 2023, Lazy Susan has evolved significantly to become a fierce supporter of local restaurants and the people behind them. Her work helps keep our restaurant doors open.”


Aroha Jakicevich

Emerging spirits judge and liquor retail specialist, Aroha has risen to the management and board of family-owned Glengarry Wines (and Hancocks) through hard work and experience on the floor. “Her ability to shepherd and shape emerging brands has become an incredibly important source of feedback and insight for the New Zealand spirits industry. Her leadership and strategic input to the future of the business is seeing Glengarry on a path to a fourth generation of success, where her presence as a young Māori leader is also a significant part of her contribution.”

Ava Nakagawa

Ava is a cheerleader for women in the brewing industry and an advocate for a safe place to share stories and strive for change in the beer industry. She is a Pink Boots Society committee member, owner of Christchurch brewery Beer Baroness and one of three people behind the @nzbeerfam Instagram community. “Ava is fighting the good fight for females in the New Zealand brewing community, advocating for it to be a safe space through the likes of RespectED Aotearoa, a charitable trust which works to prevent sexual harm through education and training.”

Becky Erwood

Becky is instrumental behind the scenes helping the Restaurant Association lobby and shape policy and deliver messaging and communications. She is also the dynamo behind meal-delivery service FED, which makes great-quality, convenient food accessible to Kiwis, using fresh, local produce. “FED was recently named as one of the fastest-growing companies in New Zealand, ranking 10th on the Deloitte Fast 50 list. Their offering champions reducing food waste and now also delivers 7,500 fresh school meals per day to school kids through the Ka Ora Ka Ako healthy school lunch programme.”

Beth Brash

For more than six years Beth has been the mastermind behind the creativity and programming of Visa Wellington On a Plate. She has her finger on the pulse of the industry, knows who’s who and will always know what’s coming. Beth lives and breathes the Wellington hospitality sector and cares deeply about it and its success. “Beth has an uncanny way of knowing what’s trending in food before it’s even a trend. Visa WOAP has become a barometer of where restaurants and hospitality are heading in Wellington and Beth’s relationships and connections are a huge part of this.”

Celia Hay

As director of the New Zealand School of Food and Wine, Celia’s personal goal is to inspire curiosity and learning in the refined and diverse world of hospitality so that people can build long and satisfying careers. She has shaped an admirable career herself that brings with it a huge amount of influence within our world of hospitality, food and wine. “As founding president of New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals, Celia supported and mentored Andrea Martinisi in his bid to win ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2023 where he was placed 8th in the world. Celia has been on the management board of the Heart of the City, Auckland central city’s business association since 2017, retiring in 2023. Celia is a hospitality superstar.”

Charlotte Muru-Lanning

As a writer for The Spinoff, in 2023 Charlotte delivered a thought-provoking newsletter The Boil Up which helped us all feel proud of where we have come from and where we are going as a food nation. Now we’re excited to see her take next steps as Metro magazine’s food editor. “Charlotte is an engaging cultural and kai storyteller, who brings a unique perspective. She continues to challenge the traditional rhetoric and she speaks life into the underbelly of New Zealand food, from snacks to kai Māori, to hidden gems and global food issues.”

Charlotte Read

As the General Manager Brand at New Zealand Winegrowers – the national organisation for the country’s grape and wine sector – Charlotte is one of our most influential women in wine, working to protect and enhance the reputation of New Zealand wine, while supporting its sustainable growth in new markets. “Charlotte maximises the impact of New Zealand wine wherever she goes. 2023 saw a stronger-than-ever push for telling our wine story using the pillars of purity, innovation and care. She holds a tremendous amount of sway over the shaping of our brand on a global stage and is highly respected both here and abroad.”

Christall Lowe

A food photographer and stylist, recipe developer and educator, Christall is a leading visual-content creator based in the Manawatū who tells our food-and-drink story with an ethereal sense of mood and depth that captivates the senses. “Her cookbook Kai is making traditional Māori recipes more accessible and she is one of our best visual storytellers, who cooks, styles and photographs everything herself. Winning an Ockham award and bringing Māori food into the mainstream in this way is an amazing achievement.”

Claire Aldous

Claire, a former caterer, private chef and cooking-school operator, is the much-loved and admired food editor of Dish magazine and has dominated its pages since the very first issue 20 years ago. “Claire’s clever recipes and food styling are instantly recognisable and she has great influence over a large and loyal following among home cooks who love to entertain and to bake. She is known for practical, delicious food that is easily understood and simple in both preparation and delivery.”

Claire Edwards

Tora Collective started in 2019 with a dream to supply Aotearoa with the freshest seasonal seafood available, sustainably harvested to order and sent to you overnight straight from the nutrient-rich salt waters of Tora. Claire is co-owner and head of order-taking, marketing and logistics, occasionally doubles as fisherwoman and is passionate about keeping our best kaimoana available to New Zealanders. “Absolutely everything Claire does at Tora Collective is considered. Not only does she provide chefs and the public with fresh shellfish, she also thinks heavily about the environment. Shellfish is packed on seaweed, sea water is collected to make ice packs and all packaging is compostable. You can’t ask for a more thoughtful and valuable operation than that.”

Dominique McMillan

A successful chef collaboration with Floriditas as part of Visa Wellington On a Plate lured Dom and her chef-partner back to New Zealand in 2018 after living and working overseas. Now she is part-owner of the famed Floriditas and Loretta in Wellington. “Dominique is a complete natural in the front-of-house environment. She knows how to look after people, is very engaging and has worked hard to instill that same level of drive and passion into the team that she has built around her across both restaurants. Dominique is driven and very dedicated to great service; she is training up one of the best front-of-house teams in New Zealand.”

Elle Armon-Jones

In opening The Big Foody, culinary-tourism specialist Elle embarked on a delicious journey of showing off New Zealand to visitors through their tastebuds. She also co-owns and operates Vineyard Cottages in the north-west Auckland region. Her vision is to build New Zealand as a food-tourism destination and grow the solid roots we have into a much bigger and brighter experience for our visitors. “Elle is all about people, place and taste, and her food tours have shown so many just how unique the flavours of Aotearoa can be. In 2023, Elle assisted TāTakui Auckland Unlimited in hosting William Sitwell on the Auckland leg of his visit, resulting in the renowned UK food writer and critic deeming the city’s dining scene ‘twice as good as London’.”

Emily King

Emily King is an internationally recognised thought leader in food-systems change. She created Spira in 2017 to help more organisations build sustainabilaity and food resilience. “In 2023 Emily published her book Re-food: Exploring the troubled food system of Aotearoa New Zealand in which she skilfully unpacks and explains the complexities of how we produce, distribute and consume food and what each of us can do to be part of the solution and help create a more equitable, climate-positive and culturally responsive food system.”

Emily Wolmarans

In 2023, mixologist Emily opened Angry Fox – her dream cocktail bar in Whanganui – curating and leading an all-female collaborative team that celebrates local distillers. “Em is dynamic, tenacious and uniquely contributes to our community. She’s a passionate crusader for developing the art of mixology in regional areas and a much-needed showcase for female mixologists across the country.” 


Erica Crawford

A champion of organics and New Zealand organic wine, Erica is one of the foremost visionary thinkers in the wine industry. She and her husband pioneered Kim Crawford Wines, growing it into an international brand and selling it nine years later to Constellation Brands. Erica launched her new organic wine venture Loveblock in 2014, after gaining a degree in viticulture. “Erica is recognised as a sustainability expert and has addressed the US Soil Erosion Society, various panels for New Zealand Winegrowers, Drinks Biz (UK), Wine Enthusiast and Oregon Pinot Celebration among others and is regularly quoted in the US wine press. As the industry grapples with the two main contributors to carbon release – packaging and freight – Erica has led the field to source and find sustainable wine packaging, bottles, kegs and containers that help to facilitate bulk export shipping. Loveblock is more than a wine brand: it is a linking point for a more sustainable world.”

Esraa El Shall

Esraa wears two very important hats within the New Zealand food industry as Head of Innovation & Development at Fonterra Brands New Zealand and the President of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST). “At Fonterra, Esraa is firmly focussed on product and packaging innovation and how technology will evolve to enable us to continue developing solutions for a sustainable future. At NZIFST she has initiated an inspiring project to refresh the overarching strategy of the institute so it can continue to honour its heritage and work towards building a sustainable and vibrant food industry.

Fiona Hugues

An art director, stylist and photographer, Fiona is a powerhouse within the world of content creation and through her social channels, website, recipes, workshops, events and multi-platform work for her clients she constantly teaches us the fine art of making things look good. “Fiona inspires us to eat well every day with food, food, food and all of its magic. She also stands proud on the world stage with her images often placed in some of the world’s most prestigious competitions.”

Haylee Simeon

Haylee established Hayz at the Anchorage in Bluff – formerly a small bar and café in the most southern town on the mainland – to serve up the authentic kaimoana of the Southland region, and she has turned it into a must-visit destination. “Haylee’s vision is to connect people with food by offering a wealth of regional kaimoana, serving dishes with careful respect paid to the traditional Māori kai she grew up with. She tells the stories of Muruhika/Southland, attracting locals and tourists alike and showcasing the exemplary products of the Bluff fishing industry.”

Jacqui Dixon

In 1993, Jacqui started the ground-breaking store Sabato in Auckland, together with her husband Phil. Thirty years later, she is still excited about sourcing a wide range of quality – and often unique – ingredients from Europe, along with specially selected New Zealand products. Sabato has been massively influential for the food-and-drink industry in New Zealand. “Gathering information on trends and sourcing new, interesting products to excite and inspire us is what Jacqui does best. Supporting New Zealand cheesemakers and telling their stories through a dedicated cheese bar (along with imported cheeses), has seen Sabato take a gold in the Top NZ Cheese Stores in 2023. It has also extended its own range of ingredients and deliciously ready-to-eat products made in-house.”

Jane Cooper

A highly experienced winemaker and wine judge, Jane is co-owner of Alexia Urban Winery in Greytown in the Wairarapa. Under the Alexia label she produces wines that represent the strength and beauty of her family matriarchy. “It is no small feat starting a new national wine show and over 2022/23, Jane has successfully launched the National Wine Awards of Aotearoa NZ an important event to recognise and celebrate our magnificent wine industry.

Jane Torrance

Jane is an outstanding food-and-beverage PR with more than 20 years in the business, 10 of those within the music industry. She then transitioned to working with chefs, food producers and restaurateurs – who many would say are the rock stars of the F&B scene. And while Jane would agree with that, she also enjoys the unsung heroes of the industry who work hard behind the scenes. “Jane is the phenomenal powerhouse behind some of New Zealand’s best-known chefs and restaurateurs. She works tirelessly to make sure their stories are heard and their brands are visible. An extremely effective champion for hospitality, Jane also makes sure that the women in our food-and-drink industry are getting recognition and are not the silent halves of the conversation.”

jannine Rickards

With more than 20 years as a winemaker, Jannine is head winemaker at Urlar and produces her own label Huntress Wines. “She has contributed to the industry in many ways, through countless hours of unpaid local wine-committee work to helping to shine a light on the Wairarapa, to hiring and mentoring young women in beginning their careers. An avid huntress who honours the whole animal, she educates us on the importance of eating everything. She grows her own food in her massive gardens, forages and is always fermenting. When it comes to being connected to the land she is the genuine article.”

Jo Pearson

One of Aotearoa’s most-respected chefs, Jo has always been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement and her Auckland restaurant Alma reflects her passion for Mediterranean cuisine and a deep connection to the flavours of Aotearoa. “As one of New Zealand’s few executive women chefs, Jo (together with partner Natasha Parkinson) earned two prestigious hats at the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2023 and is determined to lift the hospitality bar for women, building a dedicated team of professionals who admire her greatly. She is a giant in the industry.”

Kate Underwood

A freelance food writer, Kate is a communications specialist who proudly leads the Eat New Zealand Kaitaki – a collective of next-generation food leaders telling the Aotearoa food story. She also helps deliver Feast Matariki and holds the general communications role for the organisation. “Kate is super-talented: a writer, an event organiser, someone who has her finger on the pulse of everything from hospitality to food production, and who is fiercely dedicated to telling stories of place. She is also co-conspirator in the establishment of award-winning Auckland restaurant, Forest.” 


Kathie Bartley

Kathie is a food-and-beverage industry marketing expert. She was the marketing mind behind the former Corbans Wine & Food Challenge and has helped numerous wineries with their marketing. In tandem with her wine consultancy business she was a part-time lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, before creating Marvellous Marketing with Nicola McConnell. Through this business, the well-respected Outstanding NZ Food Producers Awards were set up seven years ago. The NZ Champions of Cheese Awards, NZ Chocolate Awards and NZ Ice Cream & Gelato Awards have been added to their portfolio. “Kathie works tirelessly and with extraordinary vision to champion not just artisan food-and-drink producers but also continues to promote and give a voice to more mainstream and well-established companies growing, producing and manufacturing great New Zealand food-and-beverage products.”

Kathy Paterson

A well-respected food writer, Kathy’s work has been seen in the New Zealand Herald and she is the author of New Zealand classic cookbook, Meat And Three. More recently, she edited the award-winning The RNZ Cookbook. A past president of Food Writers NZ, she is a life member and works loyally and tirelessly to promote professional food writing. “Kathy is a quiet achiever, but one who has been working hard for many years, often behind the scenes, to elevate and improve New Zealanders’ knowledge and perceptions around food. Her contribution is vast, her recipes can be found everywhere and she is considered a New Zealand expert on meat cookery. Kathy has also just launched a project to offer a scholarship for food writers through Food Writers NZ.”

Kim Ballinger

At AsureQuality, Kim helps Aotearoa shape a better food world by overseeing the company’s NZ wide ‘paddock to plate’ assurance services and food testing laboratories that keep our food safe to consume and unlock market access for our food exporters. Equipped with a Massey chemical technology degree, Kim is a shining light for women in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with extensive knowledge within the food industry. “Kim is an inspiring leader with superb analytical and critical-thinking skills, who understands that great leadership is about equipping and inspiring others to do what excites them to deliver outstanding results.”

Kirsty Schmutsch

Kirsty is the co-owner of Pembroke Pâtisserie, a multi-award-winning bakery and café and iconic food destination in Wānaka, Central Otago. “Passionate about Central Otago as a food-tourism destination and promoting and showcasing regional produce through her products, Kirsty has had a remarkable influence on the Wānaka food scene by creating a highly successful destination food business. She has served as chair of the Wānaka Artisan Market and influenced the wider New Zealand baking scene through serving on the Baking NZ board. With a 25-year career in the hospitality industry and a passion for artisan food and good service, Kirsty tirelessly promotes Central Otago as a food-tourism destination.”

Latesha Randall

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, writer, connector and co-founder of Raglan Food Co., Tesh has some hefty notches in her belt. She was on the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and her company won the Ministry for Primary Industries Supreme Employer Award in 2022. “In 2023, Tesh has added the position of director at Daisy Lab – leading developers in fermentation food technology – and become a co-founder of Weave Cacao, making a difference for cacao farmers around the Pacific. Tesh has helped build the largest dairy-free yoghurt company in New Zealand and is dedicated to a multitude of charitable projects. She is the real deal.”

Lauren Yap

Wearing several hats in the beverage industry, at Brood Fermentation Lauren is an innovative brewer and winemaker and also the quality, innovation and sales manager for Clayton Hops. “Lauren consciously promotes the New Zealand hop, beer and natural-wine industry, working with customers and distributors all over the world to shed a light on the high-quality products New Zealand has to offer. She supports women in the industry, having sat as a regional coordinator, the scholarship coordinator and now as the treasurer for Pink Boots Society New Zealand. She’s also joined Eat New Zealand’s Kaitaki, a collective of next-generation food leaders telling the Aotearoa food story.”

Maggie Gray

Maggie heads up The Food Truck Collective, an events company dedicated to the support and wellbeing of Auckland’s most promising street-food businesses with a dream to connect people and good food. “Maggie is unstoppable and her mission in 2023 is still a relentless pursuit to change the popular perception of food trucks as low-quality hot chips and hotdogs into an appreciation for owner-operated businesses with unique street kai offerings, and highlight the talented people behind them. The Food Truck Collective has revolutionised the industry by creating a fair commission-based model that has been welcomed by food vendors and she has built a strong community of stakeholders and a home for Auckland street food.”

Marisa Bidois

Chief Executive at the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, Marisa has steered the organisation towards agility in addressing industry needs while maintaining the capacity to drive impactful change. “In 2023, Marisa joined the Board of Rotorua NZ. Her contributions were recognised with the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality and Tourism Community Award by AUT, while the Association received acclaim at the 2020 New Zealand Food Awards for its industry support. Beyond member advocacy, Marisa dedicates significant efforts to fostering industry interest and opportunities, elevating its profile. Following Cyclone Gabrielle, Marisa and chef Al Brown launched the Cooking up a Storm fundraising initiative, which raised more than $370,000 to aid individuals and hospitality businesses severely affected by the cyclone and through extensive media coverage put a major spotlight on the industry.”

Michal Garvey

Michal is founder and director of food-rescue business Foodprint, a mobile app which allows people to buy food that would otherwise go to waste. The app lets people know when food is about to be wasted and connects them to the supplier and it currently engages with more than 45,000 customers and 350 eateries across Aotearoa. “In New Zealand alone, cafés, restaurants and supermarkets produce 50,000 tonnes of food waste. Over 60% of this is completely avoidable. Michal is a one-woman powerhouse making it possible for us not only to rescue food and reduce food waste but also enjoy delicious meals at a fraction of the regular price.”



Michelle Blau

At Fair Food Michelle is changing lives one bite at a time. Fair Food partners with supermarkets and food manufacturers to collect unsellable but edible produce, meat, dairy and bread and prepare it for distribution by more than 50 community groups whose clients have limited access to fresh food. “In 2023, Fair Food’s team of 2,095 volunteers rescued and shared enough fresh food for 1,711,509 meals. Michelle chaired a food-policy forum for the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance, spoke about food waste at Parliament, ran a campaign for people to donate their homegrown surplus citrus and feijoas rather than letting them go to waste in their gardens, and contributed significantly to the national conversation about the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on families.”

Miranda Mirosa

As the director and research leader for social innovations for the University of Otago Food Waste Innovation theme, Miranda harnesses the best scientific expertise to provide effective solutions to New Zealand’s food-waste problems, studying how consumers respond to the use of recycled/repurposed food within their food chain. “Miranda is a passionate advocate for finding ways to reduce Aotearoa New Zealand’s food waste and she passes this passion on to her students and team members. She works with, and is hugely respected by, some of the biggest decision makers championing food waste in Aotearoa.”

Monique Fiso

Leading the charge to change the perception of our food, Monique is pushing boundaries from her renowned Wellington restaurant Hiakai. Already recognised by TIME magazine and Lonely Planet for her exploration of Māori & Pasifika cuisine, Monique and partner Katie Monteith were awarded two prestigious hats at the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2023. Monique is inspirational in her thoughtful and creative approach to the telling of our food-and-drink story. “Monique’s menus continue to evolve using indigenous ingredients to take us on a journey like no other and to make us think about our future. In late 2023, her Wai Tai menu explored the importance of water in our lives – such an important element – culminating in a sensational semifreddo dessert infused with wild kombu leaves. Now that’s inspiring.” 

As we announce our awards we have news that Hiakai will close in March. We wish Monique and her team well and look forward to seeing her next steps.

Nadia Lim

Nadia has blossomed from her start as a young winner of New Zealand’s MasterChef competition, becoming a cook recognised in almost every household in the country. She has had her own cooking show and numerous TV appearances including as a judge of MasterChef New Zealand, has authored many well-loved cookbooks, is co-founder and the face of My Food Bag, and headed the magazine Nadia. “Her most recent venture, with husband Carlos Bagrie, is the ownership and daily running of Royalburn Station in Central Otago. They have established one of only two certified on-farm abattoirs to process their Royalburn Lamb and run an excellent farm shop in Arrowtown. Their genuine farm-to-plate operation produces premium-quality food that is sympathetic to their animals and the environment, and their lamb was recognised at the New Zealand Food Awards 2023, winning the primary sector award. Nadia’s energy, enthusiasm and leadership for New Zealand food are exemplary.”

Naomi Toilalo

TV presenter, content creator, recipe developer and cookbook author, Naomi is literally one to watch with a return to our TV screens coming in 2024. “Naomi has made te reo accessible for words we use everyday. We all need to eat, so having a bilingual cookbook that shares the recipes in both languages in the mainstream market is fantastic. Naomi has started a conversation that will only get better, and more people will start their journey to include te reo in their everyday language.” 


Nicola McConnell

An inspiring woman who wears many hats – one of which is the Marvellous Marketing partnership with Kathie Bartley – Nicola is part of the driving team behind the likes of the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards and the bi-annual NZ Chocolate Awards. Based in Dunedin, what Nicola doesn’t know about the local food scene simply isn’t worth knowing. She’s worked hard to build the profile of the burgeoning dining scene in the city and established the Dine Dunedin festival. “Nicola is a committed food marketer who strives to help New Zealand food products tell their brand story by understanding their ‘why’, the truth and authenticity behind why they do what they do.”

Plabita Florence

Our Evolving Woman in Food & Drink for 2023, chef and restaurateur Plabita still leads the way with her low-to-no-waste restaurant Forest in Auckland, at a time when more than one-third of all food produced in the world goes to waste. “Plabita is not one to search out the spotlight, yet her restaurant – newly located in 2023 to Mt Eden – is fast becoming the most talked-about vegetarian restaurant in New Zealand. Her menu fosters strong relationships with growers and her approach is simply inspirational.”

Rachael Everitt

Rachael is the driving force behind the global growth and recognition of Invivo – a renowned New Zealand wine company – and during her 3.5-year tenure she has significantly elevated its profile, particularly in key markets such as the US and UK. “Thanks to Rachael, Invivo has become known for its innovation and distinctly Kiwi identity in both the trade and consumer markets. Commercially, her marketing strategies are yielding impressive results, with Invivo x SJP now being the fastest-growing premium New Zealand sauvignon blanc in the US. She continued the global conversation about New Zealand wine in 2023 with her ‘Invivo Air’ initiative which went viral, even appearing on CNN in the US. Using her creative and strategic mind she brings together amazing people and audacious ideas and she continues to make an indelible mark on promoting New Zealand food and drink.”

Rachel Hall

In 2014 Rachel became the woman behind the making of Lighthouse Gin in Martinborough, Wairarapa, a trailblazer as the first female head distiller in New Zealand and a shining example for female distillers everywhere. “Incredibly hardworking and inspirational, from gathering botanicals and regularly making a 100km round trip to collect the purest spring water, to distilling, bottling and packing orders, Rachel does it all.” While 2023 saw Lighthouse Gin being exported to the US, Rachel also oversaw the installation of a custom-built distillery at The Runholder, Lighthouse Gin’s magnificent new home.

Sophie Gilmour

Co-owner of Auckland foodie institution Fatimas and event space The Village, Sophie is also hospitality consultant at Delicious Business, a member of the steering committee at Future Food Aotearoa, board chair at Co. of Women and a board member at Everybody Eats and DineAid. “Her work at DineAid as lead trustee saw the charitable trust raise more than $50,000 for those severely affected by the February 2023 floods, which pushed it past the magic million-dollar milestone since inception in 2012. Sophie provides support and business advice to drive positive change for a multitude of women in the industry.”

Suze Redmayne

Suze and her husband Richard Redmayne developed the niche premium brand Coastal Spring Lamb, which has grown to include more than 15 family farms from the east and west coasts of New Zealand’s North Island. The company distributes to chefs and supermarkets throughout the country and has a sizeable international export market. “In 2023, Suze became the MP for Rangitikei, one of the largest rural electorates in New Zealand, winning the seat with a crushing majority, and is the first woman to represent the electorate and one of a handful of farmers in the House. She brings vast knowledge and experience to advocate for the farming sector and contribute to the advancement of New Zealand food production.”

Tash McGill

President of Food Writers NZ, Tash is also a leading drinks writer, podcaster and co-founder of The Feed, a media outlet designed to help the food industry to be sharper, smarter and more successful. She’s also co-founder of Grow Tourism, a learning platform built to equip our workforce with the skills, insights and knowledge to build New Zealand’s high-value tourism future. “Tash has an appetite for learning and connecting and has to be admired for her desire to foster more food writers in New Zealand. But she doesn’t stop at that: she is a great proponent for the New Zealand drinks sector, helping those in the industry have stronger businesses and products.”

Tracy Berno

Professor Tracy Berno has worked for 30+ years telling the story of food systems and how we can improve them, has co-authored two international award-winning books on South Pacific cuisine and was a co-author of the multiple-award-winning book Hiakai. She is an internationally well-respected academic who has published widely on food and food politics. “Tracy has had a notable impact on the world of food and gained significant achievements internationally. Her AUT class – Politics, Power and Food – is the only course of its type in New Zealand, where students are encouraged to think critically and differently about food systems, their food choices and the consequences of those choices.”