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First Showcase Dinner to meet the makers

Back Row: Simon Ward - Mercury Bay Estate

Dave Johnston and Andy Williams - Hot Water Brewing Company

Anne Louden - Coromandel Oyster Company

Middle: Hannah Hardy - Business Studies student MBAS

Anne Louden - Coromandel Oyster Company

Jillian Johnston - Cathedral Cove Macadamias

Sue Williams - 309 Honey

Erin Mone Opito -Bay Salt Company

Front Row: Andy Corles – Castle Rock Fine Foods, Perry Cornish of Opito Bay Salt company

First Showcase Dinner to meet the makers

We met the makers of Coromandel Penisnula’s Fine Foods.

They make wine, and cheese, they farm and harvest mussels and oysters, produce honey locally and for export, grow and harvest macadamias, make amazing chutneys from their gardens and source other local food, brew many kinds of local beer, produce fine salt of different delectable natural flavours. They are chefs and presenters of the best standard with international experience. What is common to all of these food makers and producers is that the Coromandel Peninsula is their home, with many living and operating in Mercury Bay.

Last Monday night, 30 August, fifty ticket holders anticipating a sumptuous and very different kind of meal, gathered at Espy Cafe on the Esplanade, Whitianga. They had purchased tickets beforehand for this much anticipated occasion. The plan was to meet the makers of all the foods; hear bout their produce, know that their meal was prepared right there in the Espy kitchen, and to then sample it with banquet style service provided. Sampling would be an understatement, as there were multi courses and each was described and then presented generously and artistically. Kelvin Jones, owner of Espy, worked with Joanne Mannington from MBAS and her team of student maître d’s and chefs in the making, to cook, prepare and bring the servings of food to everyone throughout the evening.

Perry and Erin of Opito Bay Salt Company were the hosts of this event, presenting the producers and growers of the foods and inviting them to tell a little of the story of their product and the passion they have for their business and their food. In between eating and enjoying the stories, the evening received extra spice with the drawing of raffles - packages of the locally produced products including one prize of five dozen oysters. Anne Louden, owner of Coromandel Oyster Company, said “We are really encouraged to shop local and live in our own backyard. That’s one good thing from covid; it almost forced people to look more at their own back yard and find its treasures. One of the brightest jewels in the Coromandel is our food.”

About some of the makers: 309 honey is on the shelf of the supermarkets as well as exported overseas. CastleRock Fine Foods are in the shops and delicatessens, don’t go past Opito Bay Salt - harvested from sea water using the sun to evaporate it right there in Opito Bay. The oysters and mussels from Anne Louden’s oysters and mussels were sought after by everyone who loves seafood. Simon and Veronica Ward came six years ago to Mercury Bay Estate but the vineyard has been here for 25 years and is the only vineyard and wine producer on the Coromandel Peninsula. Their family owned vineyard, restaurant and wedding venue is a significant part of the tourist, and cuisine industry here. ‘Lola’, a sparkling pink rose, offered on arrival was served personally by Simon and Veronica from their Mercury Bay Estate. If beer was more your taste, there were five varieties from Hot Water Brewing Company served by the owner, Andy Williams and assisted by Dave Johnston.

Cathedral Cove Macadamias, grown and harvested with a focus on sustainability and organic production, and sorted and packaged and sold from Cathedral Cove. Sue Williams of 309 Honey spoke of their family business explaining how every part of the process of producing their honey, they nurture themselves. Varieties of Matatoki Cheese from Hauraki were savoured.

This fine food, and affordable for kiwis, is certainly grown, farmed, and produced locally, but it is marketed all over the world. Their food, wine and drink help make New Zealand famous for healthy, nourishing, fine food and the experience of eating it in natural, beautiful settings. The makers have built what are successful, small to medium size businesses. Coromandel Peninsula’s Aquaculture brings over $50 million a year to the economy in revenue and employs over 400 people.

What was clearly evident from every owner and producer was their commitment to sustainability with a focus on organic production. In everything from the physical working environment to the packaging of their product and the experience people have eating and using it, there is a focus on quality, so that locally grown food and wine add to the health and wellbeing of the people on the Coromandel peninsula as well as contributing to enriching the economy.

This kind of event will happen again. It is a part of 27-page action plan for Coromandels Peninsula’s local food industry. For more information contact Perry Cornish -

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