Cyclone Gabrielle: Affected communities to benefit from ‘country’s biggest-ever dinner party’

New Zealand chef Al Brown. Photo / Supplied

Bay of Plenty hospitality businesses will be part of the “country’s biggest-ever dinner party” to raise funds for those impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle next week.

Masterminded by New Zealand chef Al Brown and supported by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, the event, Cooking up a Storm, will see participating restaurants collectively open their doors from 6.30pm on March 20 with dinner served at 7pm.

A two-course menu will be served for a set price of $69 with $46 – a third – from every sale going directly to the Mayoral Relief Funds. The remaining $23 of the sale will go to the restaurant to cover costs. A portion of the proceeds will also go directly to hospitality businesses impacted by the cyclone.

More than 150 restaurants across the country have signed up to be part of the event, including 10 from the Bay of Plenty.


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“We are attempting to create the country’s biggest-ever dinner party with the whole hospitality community coming together to do good and help those in need,” Brown said.

He said the event was about serving comfort food and bringing like-minded people around a table for the evening “just like you were coming around to a friend’s place for dinner”.

“Essentially we’re emulating what is happening in the affected regions, where sitting around a table and having a kai is bringing people together to support, listen and be there for each other.

“I know times are still bloody tough for many in our beloved hospitality industry, but we still need to think about others and the role we play in the community.


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“We’d like to show that as a whole industry, we can help make a difference and give back in a meaningful way.”

Nick Potts, co-owner of Solera Wine Bar and Saltwater Restaurant in Mount Maunganui, and Deckchair Cafe in Tauranga. Photo / Andrew Warner
Nick Potts, co-owner of Solera Wine Bar and Saltwater Restaurant in Mount Maunganui, and Deckchair Cafe in Tauranga. Photo / Andrew Warner

Nick Potts signed up his restaurants, Solera Wine Bar and Saltwater Restaurant in Mount Maunganui, to take part in the event.

“We felt we had to do something to help. The storm was so devastating to so many Kiwis. This was a really easy decision and we are looking forward to sitting down and enjoying a great meal with so many people.”

Marketing manager of Capers Cafe and Store in Rotorua, Philly Angus, said Cooking Up a Storm was a perfect platform for the community to be able to come together, share amazing food and raise funds for those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

“We have got some staff members donating their time towards the course too, which is really lovely and thoughtful. It is going to be a great way to bring the community together.”

Philly Angus. Photo / NZME
Philly Angus. Photo / NZME

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said after seeing the devastation caused to so many people by the cyclone, many of its members wanted to help out.

“Hospitality is what we do best so when Al came to us with this idea, it seemed like the perfect way for us to give back.”

A recent survey by the Restaurant Association showed that 92 per cent of respondents were impacted by the recent weather, 65 per cent have been forced to close their doors and 25 per cent remained closed.

Of those that responded to the survey, 69 per cent reported seeing a significant downturn in trade, particularly in the most affected areas and 29 per cent of respondents said they experienced material damage to their business as a result of the flooding and cyclone.

Bidois said it was clear the weather had caused widespread issues for the country and businesses.


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“But hosting people is what we do best, so we’re looking forward to welcoming people into our establishments again while also helping to support those that have been impacted.”

Participating Bay of Plenty venues:

Latitude 37, Mount Maunganui

Master Kong The Mount, Mount Maunganui

Solera, Mount Maunganui

Saltwater Restaurant, Mount Maunganui


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Sundowner Beachside Bar, Mount Maunganui

River’s Catch, Rotorua

Capers Cafe and Store, Rotorua

Nikau Restaurant, Rotorua

Fairview Golf and Country Club, Tauranga

Picknicka Bar and Grill, Tauranga


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The Comm, Whakatāne

Source: Restaurant Association of New Zealand

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