Sarah Turpit (Chairperson)
Sarah has always been a firm supporter of the hospitality Industry for many years and studied to be a chef at our very own Hamilton Wintec.
Sarah has worked at Wintec as a tutor and has managed hospitality businesses across the world. Moving to a position in the Waikato District Health Board cemented her natural leadership qualities. New Zealand was lucky to have Sarah back after a stint at the Polhawn Fort in Cornwall, she is now team leader of the Hospitality sector of Wintec.
Sam Immers (Chairperson)
Board member since 2017
Sam has a passion for people and hospitality. Currently working as the Executive Chef for The Verandah Cafe & Function Centre and 3 Forks Event Catering, previously the owner of Stellar Kitchen Event Catering.
Sam Brings 17 Years working in hospo to the table.
“Starting at the bottom as a kitchen hand at Rosso Restaurant in Cambridge when I was in high school I worked my way up the ladder”.” It’s seems old school, but I have an appreciation for all levels of skills in the kitchen and in front of the house. But my favourite thing about this career is that we are still learning every day, whether it is with leadership, food, or business there is always something new. I love its diversity and room for creativity.”
Outside the kitchen, Sam is a keen hunter of wild game, has a love for the outdoors and enjoys Social time with family friends & partner Allan.
Mathew Pedley (Mental Health)
Hospitality lifer, currently co operates two eateries in Hamilton Central. Taranaki born but Waipa raised. I joined Waikato Food Inc to raise the awareness of the standard of venues in our region and work on wider collaboration between different hospitality businesses among each other and producers too.
William McQueen (Secretary)
William is responsible for taking notes at WFI meetings. Lots of notes. When he is not scribbling down details about the upcoming get-togethers in the Waikato, he connects food trucks & event organisers across NZ for yummy experiences with the Food Truck League.
Gus Tissink (Treasurer)
Head honcho at Bidfresh Hamilton Gus is one of our longest standing board members and unflinching supporters.
Nathan Hartley (Membership)
Honing his cooking skills in small country house hotels around the New forest, Nathan then went to Sydney- event catering all around the city and at Homebush during to 2000 Olympics.
Returning home he went to London where he cooked at several hotels, event caterers and other establishments until starting his own restaurant and bar .
Moving to NZ in 2009 with his family Nathan cooked his way around both North and South Island until coming to settle in Hamilton at SkyCity.
With a growing family in Cambridge he’s happy to call the Waikato his home.
David Kerr (Sponsorship)
Dave Kerr has been in the hospitality Industry for 25 years, he began at Wintec where he trained as a chef. He has owned and operated many successful businesses such as Museum Café, Canvas Restaurant, Pumice Bistro, Ferry Bank and more recently Kerr and Ladbrook Catering. One of the biggest catering companies in the Waikato. Dave is a proud family man and most recently has become a young grandad for the first time! Dave likes to travel (when possible), and is a keen cyclist with his wife of 25 years Lisa.
Amanda Graham (Foodies)
Amanda loves food, beverages and entertaining. She is the Chief Magic Maker at Meet The Makers Tours, and runs Taste Tours to Raglan to meet local producers and hear their stories. She developed a Taste of Asian Flavours Walking Tour in Hamilton CBD for WFI’s Feast Festival (at Vicki’s request!) which proved very successful.
Amanda has been a professional conference and event organiser for a very long time, including owning her own successful company. She brings with her a wide range of skills including marketing, strategy, event, sponsorship, budget and stakeholder management. She is a connector, has a cheeky sense of humour, and loves people.
Hannah O’Brien (Producers Collective)
Hannah is one half of Hunt & Bee Co, a family business growing fast selling beautiful honey from Raglan. Hannah was on the WFI board in 2019 and was behind the inception of our Producers Collective, but took leave to have her third child.
A big supporter of local and a real doer Hannah has continued to help WFI behind the scenes putting together our Food Writers Raglan tour and hosting a number of events for Feast Waikato.
Vicki Ravlich-Horan (Manager)
Founder of Waikato Food Inc and owner of Nourish Magazine Vicki has a hospo background which includes waiting tables at Pizza Hutt in her Uni days to managing five start boutique hotels restaurants in London. When she made her way back to New Zealand she owned her first business creating a successful cafe and catering company. Vicki has a passion for food and hospitality and wants to put the Waikato on the map!
Julia Clarke (Project and Events Manager)
Julia has been a part of the hospitality scene for over 20 years now and joining Waikato Food Inc encapsulates everything she loves. A chance to work with some amazing people in the Industry and learn more about the region.