Food is one of the greatest connectors in life. Cooking can bring people together in amazing ways and sometimes the recipes we use are historical relics passed down through the generations. Food has been my lifelong passion.
I grew up in the kitchen, so my internship at Eat the Kiwi is in my area of expertise and reminds me why I love food so much. Eat the Kiwi is a food distributor based in Auckland that specialise in exporting high quality Kiwi food products to Hong Kong and a variety of other places.
Having recently graduated with a degree in management with a minor in Asian studies, the internship gave me the opportunity to connect both areas of study in a project that has been super rewarding and fulfilling.
I have always seen food as a way to understand new cultures, and so far this has not led me astray. I was fortunate to have lived in Indonesia as a teenager for four years and worked and lived in Dubai for a few months. Both experiences have given me a real interest in Asian food.
The work I did at Eat the Kiwi was focused on creating a comprehensive data set of Asian food products for future projects. With a focus on both food service and retail products, I spent weeks researching ingredients and products nation by nation, and then suggesting which brands are best for each product. I also visited Asian food suppliers around Christchurch and looked at restaurant menus across main centres to better understand what dishes are popular with the New Zealand market as part of this research.
It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about different countries and their food culture. By splitting national dishes into ingredients, I learnt what makes the food of different nations so different, but it also allowed me to draw parallels between nations based on similar dishes or ingredients.
During the internship, I also travelled to Auckland to meet with suppliers, visit some restaurants, and gain valuable insight from chefs from across Auckland.
My research led me to a number of different conclusions. Firstly, New Zealanders love Chinese and Japanese food. Because New Zealanders are far more familiar with Chinese and Japanese cuisines, businesses will likely have better success launching food products from these countries. Conversely, there is a distinct lack of Vietnamese and Indonesian food products readily available for consumers, so this could be an area where suppliers could find a niche.
John Stokes and the staff I worked alongside at Eat the Kiwi were incredible hosts who helped me every step of the way. I believe strongly in their passion and drive to connect the world with New Zealand produce.
I remember moments when I would see New Zealand produce overseas. It is always marketed as the highest quality product on the shelves. This is something I truly believe in and have always admired about New Zealand.
The internship was incredibly valuable and provided me with such an eye opening experience. As I move into my new career after university, I can see how this knowledge will help me excel in my new role. I hope to work and live in Asia again one day and get to use the experience and knowledge I have built at Eat the Kiwi.