NZ Top chefs join for top dinner

Avid foodies will have to be quick to get tickets as some of New Zealand’s best chefs create a four-course dinner on 30th August 2014 in celebration of their friend and colleague the late Noel Crawford.  But that’s not all.  Their purchase will raise funds to establish an annual culinary scholarship in honor of Crawford’s great passion for food and his contribution to the New Zealand culinary landscape.

This will be more than a meeting of great chefs, says Raymond van Rijk from Raymond’s BBQ Gourmet.

“There’s real heart in this event – we all knew Noel and all of us worked with him in some way or another over the years.  The formal side of dining wasn’t really Noel’s style so there’ll be no black ties on the night, but it will reflect his absolute passion for food and big flavors.  It will be done to his high standards, with a lot of love and laughter thrown in as well.”

The dinner, named Zealous Passion, will pull together the culinary expertise of some of the country’s finest chefs, including David Griffiths from Mister D, Pierre Vuilleumier of Pierre Sur La Quay fame, Terry Lowe from Black Barn, Korey Field EIT tutor and pastry chef Cape Kidnappers along with the support of EIT culinary students and tutors

This is an opportunity not to be missed by anyone who loves great food prepared by top chefs, he says.

“And it’s all for a good cause,” he adds.  The dinner will raise funds to kick-start the Noel Crawford Memorial Chef Scholarship.  The scholarship will help a promising student study Culinary Arts at the Hawke’s Bay Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT).  “He and all the chefs involved shared a great desire to further Hawkes Bay’s tradition of passion for produce, flavors and food.  This scholarship will help to continue that.”

A ‘flavor genius’, ardent local food ambassador and stalwart of the famous Hawkes Bay Farmers’ Market, Crawford spent 30 years in the Hawke’s Bay food industry, as a chef, mentor and later as the ‘The Saucerer’ and founder of award-winning gourmet condiment producer, Aromatics.  He passed away late last year after a short illness.

Food is a passion for the whole family and Crawford’s son Fynn , head chef at The Edinburgh Castle in Melbourne, will also return home to cook at the dinner.

Raymond says they’ve had an overwhelming show of support from the local food scene, with many people offering to wait tables, cook, organise and even wash dishes.

“Noel was an integral part of the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market and much of the produce for the dinner will be donated or sourced from there and other Hawke’s Bay suppliers, along with wines from local wineries,” says Raymond.

Sam Orton, from Orton Catering where Noel worked for several years, will MC the evening, and an auction will be run by Peter Maidens from Kauri House Auctions.

It is hoped the Zealous Passion dinner will become an annual event on the Hawke’s Bay calendar.

Tickets for the Zealous Passion four-course dinner at the Elwood Function Centre are available for through or by phoning 068768989 during business hours.

For more information, please contact:

Marie Emerson from BBQ Gourmet



Noel Crawford began his career in late 1966 when, in his words, he: “walked into the legendary La Boheme Restaurant in Auckland with a strong desire to become a chef. The smell of coffee and fresh baguettes, a stove top full of bubbling pots and the friendly face of Italian chef Gino Lazzari gave me an intense feeling of déjà vu. I knew that’s where I wanted to be, I was taken in as a member of a large family and treated with warmth and respect, I learned so much there that would shape my life. The generosity of spirit shown by the chefs manifested itself in the food that they produced, and set a benchmark for me to aspire to in my work.”


After La Boehme, Noel worked at the White Heron in Auckland, then moved to Wellington to run the popular Macavities on Plimmer Steps.  He travelled to England where he spent four years travelling and working at some of London’s best restaurants.  In the early 1980’s, Noel moved to Hawke’s bay and opened the pioneering delicatessen The Pantry, followed later by the establishment of Aromatics.


In addition to his culinary activities, Noel travelled New Zealand with British Chef Michael Quinn from the Ark Foundation teaching students the potential pitfalls of drug and alcohol use within the industry. Noel always encouraged young chefs and mentored and influenced them through their studies.