Home' Hospitality Business : HB JUL 2016 Contents Combine Vivienne Teo’s passion for hospitality with her sense
of separateness growing up in the only Chinese-born family at
her suburban Auckland school in the 1980s, and the outcome is
Breakbread – an initiative created to break down cultural barriers
through cooking, sharing food and stories.
Two hundred people attended the first event, held at Hopetoun
Alpha in Auckland, where Vivienne’s short film Small Victories
was played. It featured Tom Hishon from Orphan’s Kitchen and
the families of Mon refugees from Burma now settled in Glen
Innes and Point England, as they collaborated in the kitchen and
“stirred the cultural mix”.
Remembering those feelings of ‘otherness’, through
Breakbread Vivienne wants to help reframe migrants’ experiences
of their adopted country. Asked how the event played out, “It
was perfect,” she says, “Informative and emotive, with the right
balance of getting the message across in a non-threatening way.”
HOW WAS IT, GROWING UP IN PAKURANGA,
AUCKLAND IN THE ‘80s AND ‘90s?
My brother and I were the only full Asian kids at school for a
couple of years. I attended Riverina Primary which only had eight
classrooms and it was a small, loving community. I only noticed I was
different to other kids when it came to school lunches, parties and
sleepovers. I felt embarrassed and unsure what to do because what
we were taught or did at home was different. I never felt quite right.
FILL US IN ON YOUR WORK LIFE SO FAR:
I’ve worked in hospo for 17 years, starting as a pub waitress at
16 when I first left home. Sales and marketing followed and also
working part-time to learn bartending at Honey cocktail bar in
O’Connell Street, then at Rakinos. Leaving NZ at 23, I worked
for three years on private yachts overseas. I then moved to
Melbourne, starting out in a club then delving into front of house
in restaurants and cafés and moving up to management. When
I came home, Orphan’s Kitchen had just opened and I ended up
managing that. So it has just been hospo. I sometimes wondered
why I was still doing it because it was killing me. But it was
always the conversation, always the people and the stories are
always exciting. I’d had the idea for Breadbread for a while and
left Orphan’s three months ago to begin it.
ARE YOU PLANNING ANOTHER BREAKBREAD, AND
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE CONCEPT?
I’m looking at doing another one soon, but in a slightly different
format. I plan to ask Che Barrington – owner/ executive chef
at Blue Breeze Inn, Woodpecker Hill and MooChowChow –
to collaborate with us at Ethiopia. Once we film the initial
collaboration, the idea is to develop the documentary by developing
relationships. I’d love to bring music and coffee to the next event
as they’re strong elements in the Ethopian culture; involve local
musicians and coffee brands to help educate people about where
single origin coffee comes from as it’s a growing trend here.
AS A RESTAURANT MANAGER, WHAT HAVE YOU
DISCOVERED ABOUT HUMAN NATURE?
If something is created true from the heart with honourable
intention, whether it be a cup of coffee, a Hemingway daiquiri,
glass of lemonade, conversation or a steak tartare, people can
feel it. I think a café or restaurant that nails all of those elements
is bound to be successful.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE NEW MOOD OF
COLLABORATION IN HOSPITALITY?
It’s a growing trend because I think a lot of people are seeking
diversity and challenge. Collaboration is about challenge for
everyone involved, with friendships born out of this. Food is our
common thread – that’s a great start right there.
YOU’RE A MANAGER, A CARPENTER, A SHORT FILM MAKER,
AND AN AGENT OF CULTURAL CHANGE TOO. WHAT’S NEXT?!
I’d love to see this concept grow. I’ve planted a seed which can
stay the same with regards to its format but change with every
collaboration, reaching out to lots of people from different
demographics. I think it’s time to refine the skills I’ve recently
discovered and become expert at writing pitches for grants to
keep this baby alive! n
Food as cultural bridge
The inaugural Breakbread, held at Hopetoun Alpha in
Auckland recently: from left, Koasorn Tun, Vivienne Teo,
Sok Vouch (Linda) Chhim, Mike McRoberts and Jacinda Ardern.
20 | July 2016 | Hospitality BUSINESS
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