Christchurch’s VBase has won ‘Best Food Experience’ at the New Zealand Event Awards for its catering at TEDxChristchurch 2019: Tūrangawaewae—A Place of Belonging, at Christchurch Town Hall.

An innovative hāngī lunch, using the newly constructed hāngi pits in the Town Hall’s neighbouring Commons site, ensured 1,400 guests were safely and quickly served in just 10 minutes.

All produce was locally and ethically sourced, responsibly harvested, and produced in house by the Vbase kitchen team in collaboration with Ngāi Tūāhuriri, through their subsidiary Matapopore.

Both attendees and award judges said this was the best demonstration of inclusive biculturalism they had ever seen at an event.

Vbase Chief Executive, Caroline Harvie-Teare says the award reflects Vbase’s deep connection to its local culture, food and people, and is a wonderful example of the social, cultural and economic impact of our celebrate and source local procurement strategy.

“An inclusive and planned approach with Matapopore, TEDxChristchurch and Vbase allowed us to design a food experience to celebrate mahinga kai, the interconnected beliefs and practices relating to the environment and gathered food,” she says.

“With our client TEDxChristchurch and partners, we demonstrated a true sense of collaboration with our community, our local producers and our iwi which culminated in a totally sustainable experience enjoyed by everyone involved.”

Vbase Executive Chef Dan Shanks worked with the Vbase event managers, operations team and kitchen to seamlessly and safely manage the food service from concept through to preparation and delivery.

‘This was our first hāngi and feeding 1,400 guests for lunch in under 10 minutes was an extraordinary feat, especially considering electricity was not used in the cooking process,” he says.

“I see this as true collaboration between all departments at Vbase, Matapopore and our client TEDxChristchurch to achieve a result we should all be immensely proud of.”

The menu had two options: kaimoana and kaivegan. Kaimoana offered fresh local seafood from Gravity Fishing, Akaroa Salmon and mussels from Banks Peninsula.

Kaivegan featured grains from Milmore Downs, a certified BioGrow farm in North Canterbury, and addressed the dietary requirements of most attendees. Fresh braeburn apples were available all day, direct from crate, grown only five kilometeres away.

No plastic single-use serveware was on site and all waste was sorted into three streams to increase landfill diversion.

“Our traditional methods of cooking outdoors and serving directly to guests on crockery plates is a true demonstration of safety and sustainability in practice,” Dan Shanks says

Kaila Colbin, curator and licensee of last year’s TEDxChristchurch says her team is looking forward to working with chef Dan Shanks and the Vbase team on further events next year.

“This was the first time a hāngī was served out of a commercial venue in collaboration with iwi. Vbase now has a working model that can be used for future events in the Christchurch Town Hall to showcase the beauty and manaakitanga of Ōtautahi,” said Colbin.

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