By Marisa Bidois, CEO, Restaurant Association of New Zealand

Our industry is busy, at times even chaotic, and for business owners it takes a lot of energy and focus to keep things running smoothly. So, the thought of two days away from the business may seem like too challenging a request. However, here at the Restaurant Association we are firm believers that taking time out to uncover new ideas, find out about innovations and trends, and share viewpoints with other like-minded people is essential to your business.

No matter how experienced you are, everyone has more to learn. So, to provide you with new ideas to help drive your business forward the Restaurant Association of New Zealand and Eat New Zealand have joined forces this year to present the country’s inaugural food and hospitality hui. Hui is a two-day annual gathering that brings together the best local and international leaders in food and hospitality to share ideas, tools and stories, to educate and inspire! Hui will expose you to new ways of running your business, drawing on the expertise and knowledge of the industry’s influencers.

We are not afraid to address some big issues either. Whether it’s the mental health of the people who make and serve our food, or connecting agriculture with tourism, or putting the spotlight on our distribution systems and how things end up on our plate, there is huge value in talking about food for the ultimate aim of making New Zealand the best food destination in the world. Here’s a Hui schedule preview to give you an idea of how we plan to open up this conversation:

  • Chef shortages and ways to make productivity more efficient.
  • The balancing act – mindfulness and work/life balance.
  • What part do you think food plays in the future of Christchurch?
  • From gate to plate – food & sustainability.
  • The future of guest experience – what do Gen Y and Millennials expect?
  • Women in hospitality.
  • How to get the best out of your social media accounts.
  • International trends and insights – National Restaurant Association Show 2018 overview.

In this age where everything is seemingly accessible via the internet, meeting face to face is still more important than ever. As those of us in the hospitality industry know, our businesses succeed due to the power of human to human contact. Likewise, outside of the presentations you see and hear at conferences and meetings, the connections you make are some of the most valuable reasons to attend. Our nation is filled with the most passionate chefs, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators in the food space whose stories are just as awe-inspiring as our landscapes. You can gain insights on the challenges and successes of others, taking the discussions from a presentation to a more personal level. Conferences provide an important reminder that you are not on your own. Don’t be of the mindset that we are in too competitive an industry to share details of your own business, as your peers are some of the best prospects to offer inspiration and advice. Needless to say, not everyone is even going to be your competitor, as conferences bring a range of different business sizes and types, from all over the country, together.

If we stand together, we will be unstoppable and have a significant influence on how our country sees its cuisine, in the context of its people, businesses and place. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for those working in food and hospitality, but nonetheless, an exciting one! It’s a conversation we believe in so much, that Restaurant Association “full” members receive two free tickets to attend the Hui event, with discounted pricing for any additional attendees.

The world is turning its gaze to New Zealand and we’re perceived as being unadulterated and unique, flavourful and genuine (both people and food). Together, we have the power to create enormous change for good. So, have your viewpoint rejuvenated and return to your business refreshed and brimmed with ideas to help to drive your business forward – join us in October for the most important food conversation in New Zealand!

Hui 2018 will take place on 24 – 25 October 2018 at The Piano, 156 Armagh Street in Christchurch. Find out more at