The FoodFirst Exhibition is only days away now, and excitement is building. With exhibitors from all over the country already having booked their spots and industry figures securing their tickets, this event will be a key addition to the foodservice calendar. In light of excellent feedback from previous exhibitors, the 2018 exhibition has been extended with more interaction, engagement and information that will provide attendees with not only a reason to attend, but to stay longer.

Among the new additions is PITCHme, a dragons-den style opportunity for the foodservice industry – the first of its kind to be held in New Zealand. PITCHme will offer the opportunity for suppliers to pitch their brand to a panel of buyers and influencers in the foodservice industry, with a total buying power of $2 billion. The panellists have the option of taking up the product, but more importantly, will give feedback and advice on the product.

The PITCHme panel is Danielle Lendich (CEO Wendy’s), Neil Brazier (executive chef, Sky City), Byron Le Roux (head of food and coffee, No. 8 Retail Group), Tony Green (GM sales and marketing, NAFDA Australia), Rose O’Keefe (buyer, Foodchain), Shaun Sullivan (owner of Penguin/Allround) and Jon Hassall (GM Foodco).

Also generating excitement is the Vitasoy Espress Yourself Latte Art competition, a fantastic opportunity for baristas nationwide to showcase their skills in front of a live audience and renowned judges. The winner will take home $5000 cash. Entries flooded in from all over the country, and the judges have narrowed it down to the final three. They are:

Sam Low, Mojo

Jiyhe Lauren Han, Muffin Break

Bonnie Lam, The Coffee Shack Wanaka

Judges include Takahito Koyanagi, a well-known competitor and judge on the latte art circuit with seven years’ experience as barista and coffee trainer and an expert judge for the National Hospitality Championships in Barista and Latte Art, and Patrick Yuen, a barista judge at the Auckland National Salon/NZ Hospitality Championships and other regional competitions since 2011. Joining Koyanagi and Yuen are Shamsi Rock from Coffex and Jaimee Dowler from Vitasoy.

Restaurant & Café magazine is also proud to launch Inspire+, an exhibition space for artisanal producers. Buyers know that trends are usually spotted amongst these smaller innovators, however, other food exhibitions are too expensive for artisanal producers. Inspire+ will bring the best in innovation in food and foodservice technology.