Northland restaurants prepare to cook up a storm for Cyclone Gabrielle relief

Café Cinema owner Mats Wickbom (right) and staff are taking part in the nationwide Cooking up a Storm dinner for cyclone relief on March 20.

Five Northland restaurants will be cooking up a storm for cyclone relief as part of a nationwide effort to support families who continue to be impacted.

Celebrity chef Al Brown cooked up the event, which will see hospitality establishments across the country serve a two-course “comfort food” menu on March 20 in a bid to create New Zealand’s largest dinner party.

The event is backed by the Restaurant Association and will raise funds for Kiwis affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

In Northland, Café Cinema and the Plough and Feather in Kerikeri are taking part, along with The Cove in Waipū, The Dune in Mangawhai and The Quay in Whangārei, which are all owned by restauranteur Lloyd Rooney.


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Rooney said the cyclone has been “devastating” for people in the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne regions.

“Al phoned and asked if I could do it, and I thought it seemed like a really good idea.

“People can come and have a great meal in a great environment and do some good at the same time.”

Therese Wickbom, who owns and operates Café Cinema with her husband Mats, said all their staff members are happy to come along and help.


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Wickbom has already been involved in cyclone relief through Bald Angels, a Kerikeri-based charity that has delivered tonnes of essential supplies to affected communities over the last few weeks.

“It’s been lovely to see the response from the public wanting to help.

“We thought, ‘This is such a cool idea, for hospitality to get involved’.

“It’s lovely to be able to do something. I think the community wants to do something. People have seemed really keen to come along and help out.”

Lloyd Rooney’s restaurants The Quay in Whangārei, The Cove in Waipū and The Dune in Mangawhai are hosting Cooking up a Storm dinners on March 20. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Lloyd Rooney’s restaurants The Quay in Whangārei, The Cove in Waipū and The Dune in Mangawhai are hosting Cooking up a Storm dinners on March 20. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Doors will open across the country from 6.30pm, with dinner served at 7pm.

Participating restaurants will serve a two-course menu for a set price of $69.

Of this, $46 from every sale will go directly to the Mayoral Relief Funds, and the remaining $23 will cover the restaurant’s costs.

Brown’s brief for hosts is to provide simple menus, focusing on favourites and comfort food so diners feel like they are “coming around to a good friend’s for dinner”.

Rooney said he’s not sure what his head chef is doing yet, “but it’ll be an entree and a main”.

Wickbom is tight-lipped about Café Cinema’s menu, but the food will be tasty and the atmosphere relaxed, family-oriented and caring, she said.


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“For the café, we want it to be about home cooking, feeling good, and feeling loved – and we’ll have a wooden spoon handy for anyone that misbehaves.”

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As for the Bald Angels’ cyclone emergency support, Wickbom estimates the charity has delivered over two tonnes of donations to Hokianga communities and another four tonnes to Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay communities.

This includes towels, bedding, clothes, groceries, hygiene products, baby food, nappies and water.

The charity is also seeking donations of gumboots, sneakers and sports shoes, which will be distributed to families in need in Te Tai Tokerau.

There are collection points at Kensington Fitness in Whangārei, Community Fitness in Kerikeri, and Mahitahi Hauora in Kaitāia.


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