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 (Vice Chairperson)

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.

Vicki Ravlich-Horan

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.

Brittany Morison (Producers Collective)

Britt is a foodie, registered nutritionist and organic farmer. She was born in Palmerston North and grew up on a sheep and beef farm outside of Te Awamutu. Studying science in Otago and working in medical research all over New Zealand. Britt returned home to Waikato last year to put her passion into action, starting Tomtit Farm an organic market garden located in Martangi. Growing vegetables, inspiring, educating and connecting Waikato locals with seasonal fresh affordable produce.

Jan Dolan (Producers Collective)

Rene Kruger

Renee comes from a solid back ground in Hospo in Hamilton, Wellington and Coromandel. Running the kitchen at Hydro Majestic for the first 3 and a half years when it opened in 2001 to various kitchens across Hamilton such as Jacks, Gracies, Grey St Kitchen, Midnight Espresso and Aro St café in WNT and owning her own business in Cooks beach Coromandel to more recently working at The Boatshed Karapiro in the wedding and functions arena.  Renee now works at Burns and Ferrall and while she misses the creativity in the kitchen she’s loving Burns and Ferrall and the ability it still gives her to chat with others in the industry every day.

“Hospo is an awesome beast when things are going beautifully.  I can’t imagine not being in it to some extent.   I joined Waikato Food Inc because I wanted to help make a difference in this industry”.

Jan Dolan

Jan is one half of Bellefield Butter Co. Who make award winning Cultured Butter and other traditional dairy products in Cambridge.
Jan has been on the board of WFI since 2018 and a member since starting the business back in 2017. She joined the board to be a food producer representative.
When not in the Butter Kitchen you will find her in the paddock with her horses or on her deck doing art trying to relax.

Luke Houghton