Working in with Helene Judge from the local Economic Development and Tourism Agency – Nature Coast Enterprise, Ron Parkin from Genoese Foods Ltd and Chef Simon Wislang, he was able to get a team together to create not just one but two very successful events for Kapiti in Visa Wellington On a Plate 2010.
“Visa Wellington On a Plate was the catalyst to collectively do something really special; we saw it as a perfect opportunity to showcase all that was great about the Kapiti Coast,” says Graeme.
After a brainstorming session the group came up with an event that they all felt personified Kapiti Coast and importantly had enough of a wow factor to draw in the punters.
“Kapiti Vintage – a nostalgic gastronomic adventure” was born.
Guests were transported up the coast by a vintage steam train to an old dairy factory which is being converted into a stunning Tuscan style hotel and restaurant called, The Milk Station. Here they were treated to a long, relaxed five course lunch prepared by award winning Kapiti chef, Simon Wislang, which included the first release of new season’s Ohau Gravels wine, and a Mediterranean spread featuring the best local produce and new season’s Kapiti olive oil fresh from the press that has since gone on to be awarded best olive oil in New Zealand.
With over 26 different producers, suppliers and organisations involved, it quickly became obvious that an event manager was needed.
“Funding a project of this size was our biggest challenge. We applied for funding from the Kapiti Coast District Council for an event manager, Kirsten Kilmister, from SKOPE projects & events and once two of the larger businesses involved were prepared to underwrite the event, the preparations really got cranking,” says Graeme.
Graeme continues, “paying close attention to the details is the key to any successful event, not only is it important to showcase the region’s food and beverage offerings, we also had to be very aware of the bottom line, our event manager really brought all of this detail together.”
“We discovered that after bringing the guests from Wellington to Otaki, the steam train had to go to Palmerston North to turn around. So rather than waste an empty train that we were paying for we came up with a way to fill the train during this dead leg to Palmerston North.”
“We saw there was an opportunity for another great event for Kapiti Coast families, the Turks Free Range Train Excursion. This trip served a gourmet lunch on the train and was so popular it sold out within one week.”
The scale of Kapiti Vintage meant that it was always going to require a relatively high ticket price. This meant we really had to use all of our networks and the media to promote it as real value for money. Newstalk ZB and our local papers were really supportive and greatly assisted in promoting Kapiti Vintage as much more than an exquisite lunch. It was a whole food and wine adventure.
Other challenges included securing resource consent for a venue that was still under construction. With an event of this scale it involved a lot of work over the last month to ensure that everything was ready on time.
So was it worth all the hard work?
“Yes! It was so much fun and all the businesses involved enjoyed working together on the project. Most producers have reported an increase in awareness and sales of their goods. It has really helped put Kapiti on the map and fostered a real sense of achievement and pride,” says Graeme.
Here’s what some of the customers said.
“On behalf of our entire group a big 'thank you’ for yesterday - it was everything we expected and more. The trip, the venue, the food and wine, the service were all absolutely first class and this all reflects on the wonderful organisation - well done and thanks. If you are ever repeating the event please let me know.” - John and Robyn
“Also wish to say what a wonderful few hours, spent at the luncheon. You must be very proud to have had that "vision.” - Janice Corkill
“Just a quick email to thank you very much for the steam train ride last Saturday. Lovely weather, excellent service and fabulous food at a great price! A really awesome day thoroughly enjoyed by my family. Thanks once again to you and the team that made this all possible.” - Mel O'Hagan