Melbourne based chef, Nathan Ward, who found himself marooned in New Zealand due to the COVID -19 pandemic, spent little time wondering what to do with the unexpected extra time on his hands. Instead, from the the beginning of May he rallied Auckland’s hospitality industry into a positive event designed to bring awareness to mental health.

The event, called “From The Pass” culminated in a major fundraising benefit dinner at the newly opened Auckland Zoo event centre, Te Puna, raising $70,000 towards the cause- the establishment of an online platform to educate and support both employees and hospitality businesses in mental health awareness, anxiety and depression.

Tickets were sold at $300.00 per head, tables of 10 for $3000 and sponsors provided their products, donated auction items and goodwill to support the event. Twenty -nine tables were sold and auction items which included a Moffat oven, and trips to luxury lodges raised $27,000 on the night.

As a passionate supporter of improving the high workloads, poor/work life balance and stressful work that can contribute to poor mental health, Chef Nathan Waerd teamed up with the Restaurant Association of New Zealand and NZ Chefs to deliver the gastronomic five course benefit dinner.

Chefs Nathan Ward, Nic Watt, William Mordido, Carlos Atkinson, Jamie Robert Johnston and the Montana Catering Company, hosted the evening which attracted 140 guests, with the goal of raising awareness about the stigma of mental health in the hospitality workplace.

Reviewing the event, NZ Chefs’ director, Janine Quaid said, “The feedback from this event has been amazing and we are looking forward to holding the event annually.

“From this we are now able to start working on the online platform, which is to create a community for, not only chefs, but also our front of house teams, business owners, suppliers, farmers, and growers.

“It will be a platform to educate and support our industries’ well being and to help our sector rebuild itself and thrive. Our sponsors and suppliers have played a key role in this event, whether it was raising money through donated auction items, sponsoring product, or buying tickets.

“A huge thank you is extended to them and we are truly excited that many have expressed an interest in continuing to offer support in the future. Moving forward to our next event in late 2021, our hope is to see you all there again, along with welcoming new sponsors, supporters, and guests to the event. The proposal is to, once again, hold the event in Auckland with the intention to take the event nationally and eventually internationally in coming years.”

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