Hosted by Bridgette and Lance O’Sullivan at their hill-top Hinuera Valley venue The Red Barn, around 60 VIP guests sampled Taste of Waikato, a six-course interactive degustation meal showcasing some of the finest artisan food and wine from across the region.
The menu, designed by executive chef Leith Davidson, is part of a new offering for The Red Barn, celebrating regional pasture-to-plate produce and products, and targeting private and corporate groups and the tourism market.
A highlight of Taste of Waikato is its interactivity. Guests churn their own butter, plate a course, and enjoy a sensory activity.
“In the Waikato we are blessed with some of the most fertile soils and best farms in the world,” says Bridgette O’Sullivan, who has run The Red Barn, located on SH29 between Matamata and Cambridge, for more than 10 years. “We have the best dairy, meat and beautiful produce here. We have lakes, rivers and oceans with wonderful seafood.”
Business events marketing specialist, Tania Adolphe from Tourism Marketing Solutions was impressed with the experience.
“Corporates are often looking for something new within a short driving time of Auckland,” she says. “The Red Barn offers this within a 30 minute drive of both Hobbiton and Hamilton city. Taste of Waikato is a delightful offering for corporates as a day retreat venue, or for conference delegates for offsite lunch or dinner options.”
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism chief executive Jason Dawson says he was “very excited” about the Taste of Waikato.
“It celebrates the food, flavours and unique producers which can only be found in the Mighty Waikato,” says Dawson. “Waikato is home to New Zealand’s only tea plantation, a family-owned boutique winery which now produces apple cider, award-winning cheeses and gelatos from our world-famous dairy industry and many other heroes from our vibrant culinary industry.”
He says Taste of Waikato would appeal to New Zealand’s travel trade, corporate and cruise markets “seeking a premium, boutique dining experience”.
The venue has already hosted product launches and team building events incorporating activities such as clay bird shooting and quad bike trails. The Red Barn works with Team Up Events to arrange bespoke activities to fit with the farm environment. Groups can have a farm tour and include a milking demonstration on the working A2 diary farm.
Ideal numbers for the Taste of Waikato degustation meal are 20 to 64 guests. The Red Barn can cater for gala dinners for up to 140 people and 200+ for cocktails.