Help at hand for food and drinks businesses…

Here’s a question for you: what do dreamers, hospitality students and restaurateurs all have in common?

The answer: all of them need a little help when it comes to maximising their business potential, which is where Celia Hay’s new book, How to Grow Your Hospitality Business, may  come in handy.

 This book could come in very handy, thanks to the practical nature of its writing and diagrams, particularly the advice dispensed on page 25 of the Hospitality Business Life Cycle, which explains the ebbs and flows of how hospitality businesses work.

“The easy part is setting up a restaurant, café or bar; the hard part is sticking at it when customers come and go because floods of customers can sometimes turn into a trickle for no obvious reason,” says Hay, explaining the rationale of her business life cycle diagram, which she refined for this book.

It’s her third edition of How to Grow Your Hospitality Business and it was launched in Auckland a fortnight ago at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine, which Hay relocated from Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake devastated her school there.

She began working on the new book in 2010, prior to the biggest Christchurch earthquake,  and it has been a work in progress since the relocation to Auckland.

I have worked for Hay at her school in Auckland for the past seven years as a wine tutor and while I no longer teach regularly for her, we remain in contact.

We had a chat this week about her new book.

What do you think of hospitality as an industry to work in?

Celia Hay: It’s much better entertainment than sitting on a couch and watching TV.

What’s the most rewarding part of working in hospitality?

Celia Hay: It’s very addictive creating food and sharing it with people and setting up for special events. I find it very rewarding and greatly enjoy doing events. It’s about being curious about your guests and sharing food, wine and laughter. It’s all very human and that’s the most rewarding part of it.

What is your biggest hope for the book and those who read it? 

Celia Hay: It’s a book to help people succeed in the hospitality business but also for those people who dream to own their own place one day. I want to help people on the pathway to success.

When did the first edition of your book come out?

Celia Hay: In 2000…

What inspired you to write your first edition?

Celia Hay: This book was to provide a text book for the Certificate in Restaurant and Cafe Management that we launched in 1998 at our school in Christchurch.

What’s the biggest change over the years in the books?

Celia Hay: The compliance side of the hospitality industry has become incredibly complicated. Even the Sale of Alcohol Licence and the Food Control Plan are both very detailed from a compliance point of view. And then there is the new Health & Safety at Work Act and the Food Act and all the challenges of employment law.

Who is the target market?

Celia Hay: The dreamer, the student of hospitality management and the restaurateur or café owner who wants to do some professional development.

What’s next at the NZ School of Food & Wine?

Celia Hay: We are just going through NZQA approval for the Diploma of Cookery (Level 5) and Diploma of Hospitality Management at Level 6. We also have a new professional wine diploma to be launched at the school in the middle of 2018.

Where can people buy the book?

Celia Hay: Online at and also at Unity Books in Auckland and Scorpio Books at Christchurch.

Raise a toast to the first women winners – sommeliers

Two women won titles in Auckland this week in a field that has traditionally been a male domain – the Sommelier of the Year and Junior Sommelier of the Year competition, held in Auckland on Sunday 20 August.

The Sommelier of the Year Awards 2017… left to right: Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas, Karen Fistonich of Villa Maria, Sommelier of the Year Stephanie Guth, committee member Michael Darby and NZSFW founder and director, Celia Hay.

The annual competition was held at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine by school founder Celia Hay, in collaboration with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas. It’s open to entrants from throughout the country and has seen New Zealand winners travel to visit Champagne Louis Roederer in France and junior winners  visit Central Otago, hosted by Andy and Misha Wilkinson, owners of Misha’s Vineyard.

Stephanie Guth, who won Sommelier of the Year 2017 said she was humbled to win the top prize but also by the process itself, which included tasting six wines, all with their identities concealed. The competition put entrants through their paces in other ways too. They had to open champagne for the judges and an audience, pouring champagne into eight glasses while answering questions about different beverages.

“Blind tasting is always a very humbling experience,” says Guth, who works as the sommelier and runs the beverage programme at The French Café in Auckland. Guth was born and bred in Canada. She trained first as a chef and five years ago made the transition to the front of house. She is part of the global growth in women pursing this career path. As is Amelia French, winner of the Junior Sommelier of the Year competition, held on the same night. French works at the George Hotel in Christchurch.

Awesome aromatics in Auckland… tomorrow it’s all on

It was a raging success today – “best aromatics wine tasting I’ve ever been to” and “I now feel like I understand wine a lot more” – and it’s all happening again tomorrow…

Here I am at the fourth annual Wine & Food Celebration in Auckland…

It is now an annual fixture on the city’s calendar and it was spear headed by Celia Hay, the founder and director of the New Zealand School of Food & Wine, which is based in Customs Street West, Auckland CBD.

Tomorrow there is a sake master class, a wine class led by Master of Wine Bob Campbell (known for his humour as well as great wine knowledge and an entertaining style of education and tasting skills) and then we have two aromatic wine classes.

Here are the wines I will host at 4pm:

2014 Loveblock Sweet Moscato

2016 Misha’s Late Harvest Gewürztraminer

2016 Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Decibel Viognier

2014 Grillo Tasca Sapori d’Italia (our non aromatic control wine)

2014 Misha’s Limelight Riesling

And here’s the time table:

  • Feel the Heat: BBQ & Chilli. 5pm Monday 21 August $75
  • Discover Saké: 5pm Monday 21 August $60
  • Bob Campbell MW: 6pm Monday 21 August $75 per person
  • Aromatic Whites – taste the aromatic white wine wave with me at 4pm Monday 21 August (price included in entry fee)
  • German Rieslings at 6pm with Michael Jemison – the perfect ending to this great event.
  • Click here to buy tickets.

Event information and ticket purchase here website.