5 chefs, 700 people and a plan to transform a city through food


Radishes grown by TEDxChristchurch attendee Leigh Gray (Photo courtesy Leigh Gray and TEDxChristchurch)

Where does the food served in the some of the most famous restaurants in Christchurch, New Zealand come from? Why does eating healthfully matter? Why care about the origins of your burger, salad, pizza? Why grow your own food? These are some of the questions TEDxChristchurch sought to answer at their 2014 event.

To do so, they worked with local chefs, a researcher studying the effects of nutrition on mental health and the organizers of a local urban gardening initiative to integrate a comprehensive look at food in Christchurch, New Zealand into their event.

For their lunch service, the TEDxChristchurch team worked with chefs from five of Christchurch’s most beloved restaurants to create a menu of local ingredients for all 700 attendees. Using local ingredients was important to TEDxChristchurch, whose team wanted to support the local community and show the scope of the vibrant New Zealand farming scene. But a local menu was just the start, says organizer¬†Kaila Colbin, who worked with a film crew to document where the food was sourced, who was growing it, and give a full picture of the origins of the TEDxChristchurch meal.

Attendees snacking on food at TEDxChristchurch

Food offerings at TEDxChristchurch

“Our filmmakers went out to the farms and filmed the people growing our produce, filmed the pigs running around, really showed the full supply chain of where our healthy, local, organic, delicious food was coming from,” says Colbin. “They also included footage from the on-site kitchen, filming it in the morning and feverishly editing it into the video, so we could show it just before lunch.”

Above: Watch the video shown at the event

This was just one part of the team’s focus on food at the event. Julia Rucklidge from Christchurch’s University of Canterbury spoke on her work investigating links between nutrition and mental health, while former speaker Ruud Kleinpaste — who worked for 14 years in the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries — encouraged attendees to engage in their own forays into New Zealand farming, thanks to seeds included in the event gift bags.

“That same day, our city (which is known as the Garden City) was launching a new initiative across town called Edible Garden City,” says Colbin. “So we partnered with them to include seed packets in the goody bags.”

And it looks like the farming has gotten off to a good start, she says, sharing that one attendee has raised a crop of radishes already.


  1. Trent Yeo

    The food was amazing. I ate it:)

    There is something so simple about people who do something with love. Life seems a little brighter when the people who produce something are there to deliver it to the person who can enjoy it. Food adventures at TEDx!

    Well done to the TEDxChristchurch team.

  2. Jalanda

    I love having such a quality TEDx event here in Christchurch. All the organisers rock the socks off my world :)

  3. LOVE love that the TEDxChristchurch community so totally embraced connecting local folks with local growers and foods! So many great ideas within this post and from watching the video. Our TEDxTryon Team have planned a lovely farm-to-table lunch for our Sept 12th event and now we are more excited than ever. Thanks so much for sharing !

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