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Growing the magic of our culinary culture

There's a real buzz right now in our cafés and restaurants, and it seems to me, a heightened awareness and curiosity about creating and defining our New Zealand culinary culture.

Following the recommendation of Professor Helen Leach, I am currently reading Food in Chinese Culture by K.C Chang, the eminent American anthropologist. Published in 1977, just as China was starting to emerge from decades of isolation, Professor Chang discusses how the Chinese, with over 7000 years of culture, are 'pre-occupied by eating' with food prepared and served in 'accordance with a cluster of beliefs concerning the health properties of various foods'. He goes on to say that with over 3000 years of documented evidence, while changes have occurred, they did so without altering the fundamental character of this food culture. Part of the challenge for us in New Zealand is developing a better sense and understanding of our food culture and naturally, the impact of immigration on what we eat.

Consistently leading the way

Sid and Chand Sahrawat provide an excellent example, not only of our emerging food culture but also as exemplars of hospitality entrepreneurship. This week, their fine-dining restaurant, Sidart won Metro Magazine's Restaurant of the Year while their other and younger restaurant, Cassia, was placed runner-up. These awards recognise Sid and Chand's absolute dedication to both the art of their cuisine and their commitment to ensuring an outstanding customer experience.

Cassia, has been the Supreme Winner for 2017 and 2016 and is a favourite for my family. We love to sit at the bar and enjoy an interactive evening with the friendly bartenders (who make fabulous mocktails for non-drinkers) while keeping an eye on the action in the kitchen. Polished, professional service, paired with fabulously flavoursome cuisine - especially the lamb racks, smeared in exotic spices, savoured and quickly demolished. 

NZQA Review of NZSFW

We are delighted to retain our NZQA Category One status following a two-day review from NZQA. And they said some nice things about us...


  • Overall achievement is strong and reflects the organisation's commitment excellence.
  • Students highly value the positive and engaging real-world learning environment.
  • The organisation's strong emphasis on industry can be seen through its collaborations and partnerships with key stakeholders.


Franck and Jess blog


with best wishes,

Celia Signature First Name


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Celia Hay

Celia is a qualified chef and holds the WSET (London) Diploma of Wine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History, Master of Education (Distinction) and MBA Master of Business Administration from the University of Canterbury.

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The School

Founded by Celia Hay, the New Zealand School of Food and Wine opened its first campus in Christchurch in 1995.

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