In the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle’s devastation, our local hospitality industry has rallied together to aid those affected. Spearheaded by renowned chef Al Brown and supported by the Restaurant Association, the initiative, dubbed ‘Cooking up a Storm’, will see establishments across the country hosting a two-course dinner party on Monday, the 20th of March.
The event, which aims to be the country’s largest dinner party, will feature a set menu of comfort food designed to soothe the soul through the stomach. Participating restaurants will charge a set price of $69, with $46 of every sale going directly to the Mayoral Relief Funds and a portion of the proceeds going to support those in the hospitality industry who recent weather events have also impacted. In this one-off experience, diners will select the restaurant of their choosing, which includes beloved favourites like Depot, Azabu Mission Bay, Gusto at The Grand, MoVida, Cazado, Sid at The French Cafe, Ponsonby Road Bistro and Culprit, alongside some of the best restaurants around the country.
“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 says. “It’s about comfort food and bringing like-minded folk around a table for the evening. 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.”
The Restaurant Association CEO, Marisa Bidois, adds, “When we saw the devastation caused to so many people from the cyclone, so many of our 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.”
According to a recent survey by the Restaurant Association, 92% of respondents were impacted by the recent weather, with 65% forced to close their doors and 25% remaining closed. In the most affected areas, 69% of businesses reported a significant downturn in trade, and 29% suffered material damage.
“It’s clear that the recent weather has caused widespread issues to the country and to our businesses,” Bidois explains. “But hosting people is what we do best, so we’re looking forward to welcoming people into our establishments again whilst also helping to support those that have been impacted.”
Those interested in participating in Al Brown’s ‘Cooking up a Storm’ event can book their table here. Diners can choose from more than 50 participating restaurants around the country, with the list of appetising offerings continuing to grow. It is worth noting that the remaining $23 of the sale goes to the restaurant to cover costs such as staffing and produce expenses.