ArtDego2016 // Debrief

It happened during Auckland Artweek, which was mid-October, and I’m only writing about it now… because ArtDego this year was double the size and double the effort, and it’s taken me twice as long to recover.

What started five years ago as a cool idea has become a colossal all-consuming thing. The purpose and goal of it is to use food as a conduit to discover and celebrate art in all its forms. This year, we worked with curator Pippa Milne to bring a critically-acclaimed collection of artists. It was big.


This year, Heart of the City asked us to produce a free public iteration of the event, streetARTdego, on the night of ArtWeek’s Late Night Art. We paired five food trucks with five visual artists to create a wandering degustation and exhibition experience. More than 5000 people came.

My favourite moment of the night was watching people leaning over balconies and stop still on stairwells to get a glimpse of Devin Abrams performing epic tracks from his NZMA award-winning album, The Stillness. My other favourite part was when Devin met Jamie from Judge Bao for the first time, and ate the delicious dish inspired by his art, and didn’t stop raving.

Thank you to the artists: Tiffany Singh, Kerry Ann Lee, Mark Harvey, Nathan Pohio and Pacific Heights.
Thank you to the chefs: Temaki Truck, Coreano, Kraken Crumpets, The Pie Piper and Judge Bao.



Our art-food thought child turned five this year, and it was special. We brought back chefs from previous years, as well as our first stylist and graphic designer. It was essentially the dream team, in the dream venue, and 110 people came along and soaked up the madness.

Laura Lopez and Stolen Rum
Chef Ainsley Thompson of the Sherwood and Jessica Mentis of Mentis Studios/The Jellyologist

Artist: Sarah Smuts-Kennedy
Chef: Kyle Street of Culprit
Beverage: Antipodes Water Still & Sparkling

Artist: Ngahuia Harrison
Chef: Hayden McMillan of soon-to-open-but-still-nameless restaurant in Melbourne
Beverage: Nautilus Estate The Paper Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc

Artist: Steve Carr
Chef: Joao Martins of The Offal Club
Beverage: Brick Bay Pinot Gris 2015

Artist: Red Leap Theatre
Chef: Dariush Lolaiy of CazadorBeverage: Seresin Estate Raupo Creek Pinot Noir 2012

Artist: Ronnie van Hout
Chef: Sonia Haumonte of Vaniye
Beverage: Thomson Two Tone Whisky

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible. To the Auckland Art Gallery for their ongoing support of what is a unique and often challenging event. Our sponsors, who make it all possible. Our curator Pippa Milne. Our photographer, Emily Raftery, and videographer, Benj Brooking for The Jungle. Thank you to Michelle Moore for running front of house so beautifully, and to the superstar FOH crew who worked with her. To Caro Paynter for her beautiful styling. To Kaan Hiini for his wonderful design. To Tanya Barlow for make-up.

I produce ArtDego with my friend and co-conspirator Rebecca Smidt. We both have full time jobs and this is our fifth year of making this not-for-profit happen. When I say not-for-profit, I mean this is the fifth year in which no one has been paid. Not us. Not the artists. Not the chefs or the FOH crew or the designer or the stylist or the photographer or the videographer. No one. This event is a collective dream. We do it because it’s beautiful. We do it because we want to see people engage with the arts in ways they’ve never before imagined. We do it because we love Auckland and we want to be part of the development of this city’s unique voice on a global stage.

We couldn’t have pulled this year off without our long-suffering baes, Dariush Lolaiy and Andrew Johnston and our families. We couldn’t have got through those two nights without the friends who come to our aid: Rebekah Guy, Morven McAuley, Kimberley Davis, Joel Herbert, Rebekah White, Lauren Porteous, Caroline Paynter.

What a time to be alive.