Rangatahi Advisory Group

Introducing the Rangatahi Advisory Group for 2023/24

The Engaging Rangatahi initiative underscores the Association’s commitment to nurturing the future leaders of the hospitality sector. By connecting with individuals who represent the industry’s future, including those with visionary ideas and a strong drive to contribute to its growth, the Association aims to collectively create a brighter future for everyone involved.

The Advisory group were selected from some of the amazing young talent in Aotearoa. The process included self nominations, applications including video and interviews to select the top candidates. Two co chairs were selected to share the responsibility for leading the group.

The Restaurant Association look forward to learning from them and working with them to make hosptiality a great career to work in and learn what the youth of today need to thrive.

<strong>Elliot McClymont</strong>

Elliot McClymont – Co-Chair

Owner and operator of the Roaming Flamingo, a mobile taco truck based in Auckland. Elliot has been in the hospitality industry since he was 15. In his early 20’s he successfully managed TriBeCa, once crowned New Zealand’s best restaurant and The Tasting Shed before setting up his first business Blush Gin. He built the business from an idea on a kitchen bench to an internationally awarded and recognised brand. Elliot was also crowned a Master Chef New Zealand grand finalist in 2022 and has been involved in the Best Foods waste reduction campaign. Elliot’s wealth and breadth of knowledge applies to all aspects of the hospitality industry, he is truly excited to be Co-Chair of the Rangatahi Advisory Group where he plans to create a solid and vibrant framework for the next generation of hospitality professionals.  

Lyall Minhinnick

Lyall Minhinnick – Co-Chair

Lyall Minhinnick’s culinary journey from Waiuku to his current role as a chef at Amisfield, the three-time American Express Restaurant of The Year in the Cuisine Good Food Awards, is marked by important choices that have shaped his career. In his eight months at Amisfield, he has honed his skills in diverse culinary tasks, from open-fire cooking of whole animals to meticulously foraging ingredients like fresh thyme in the Kawerau Gorge. Lyall’s experience also encompasses working at renowned South Island establishments such as Fleurs Place and Riverstone Kitchen. His passion for cooking and delighting diners is evident. Notably, while previously working at the Bayview Hotel, Lyall has also been collaborating with Iwi to provide crucial support to rangatahi in the Coromandel. This partnership reflects his commitment to empowering and nurturing the youth while leveraging the resources and guidance offered by Iwi.  He’s excited about his role as co-chairperson for the Rangatahi Advisory Group, where he aims to inspire the next generation and contribute to the future of New Zealand’s hospitality industry through his own story and experiences. 

Rebekah Leung Wai

Rebekah Leung Wai is a Front of House team member at Little Savanna, Palmerston North and has been in the hospitality industry for 12 years, starting at the age of 12 years working at Bethany’s restaurant as a waitress. Rebekah specialises in serving and being a Maitre D at the restaurant. Over the years, Rebekah has developed many skills and can now confidently manage the restaurant on any given night, dealing with the many issues that come with a busy night.

The most important aspects of the job are creating memorable experiences for guests and learning many important life skills. “I love the industry because there is no limit to how much one can learn, the smiles on guests faces when they dine with us, gives me so much joy and the lifelong friends I have gained from working in such a face paced industry. I am so excited to see how many young people we can encourage to be in hospitality, about the added skills I am going to learn and the ideas that are going to come from being a member of the Rangatahi Advisory Group.”

Sarah Green

Sarah Green is the assistant manager at Floriditas with just over 4 years of experience in hospitality. She started as a hospo baby at age 18 running food and drinks at restaurant, Loretta and then slowly got trained in all sections of Front of House and 3 years later moved down the road to Floriditas as Head Barista. After only 6 months, she also took on the role of Assistant Manager. Training the staff and supporting upper management are both very important parts of her job but her favourite is being able to create both a comfortable yet exciting environment for both my team and customers. The environment being the restaurant as my home, the staff as my family and the customers as guests we are hosting. At the recent Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards Sarah was nominated for Best Emerging Front of House and Floriditas also walked away with the award for best cafe and many more!  

Sarah is extremely excited about being a member of the Rangatahi Advisory Group as she believes it’s important to keep working towards a culture that embodies the true meaning of hospitality, Manaakitanga, which is to involve compassion for others and to nurture relationships. I am also passionate about encouraging wider rangatahi to be choosing Hospitality as their career, as the experiences and connections you make are unmatched! 

Nic Kearney

Nic Kearney is a Chef de Partie at Onslow in Auckland. He has been working there for just over a year in the pastry section, but has also gained experience in the larder section too.  

Nic grew up in the South Island, raised by his Mum and Nana. His Nana was a home economics teacher. This is what got Nic inspired from a young age. The family moved to Dunedin during Nic’s early years where he began to cook at home after school.  

After high school he expected to go down the business avenue at University. However, Nic decided to take a year out to work, and see if he was ready to take the leap into the depths of studying. He started working at the local supermarket in the bakery, and not long after began working at Salt Bar on the esplanade as a Kitchen hand. Immediately Nic fell in love with the professional kitchen and in the following months started studying and working as a chef. Two years later he started working under Hannes Bartiner at Titi Restaurant, a five course degustation styled restaurant, as a Chef de Partie. This is where Nic fell in love with a refined cooking style and credits the chefs there for igniting his passion for cooking and the art of fine dining.  

After spending over 18 months at Titi, Nic wanted to move out of his hometown to challenge himself and found his place within the Josh Emett group in Auckland. Nic was originally hired as a larder chef, however quickly found his passion within the pastry section.  

Still wanting to gain experience on the hotline, his fellow chef advised him to compete in ‘The Beef and Lamb young ambassador chef’ competition. After applying with his conceptual dishes, Nic found himself in the finals for the competition. Battling out against two top young chefs from the country, Nic came out victorious, winning the title of ‘Young Ambassador Chef.’. This award granted Nic a series of ambassador dinners with the Beef and Lamb senior Chefs, where he would participate in a series of five course Beef and Lamb inspired dinners.  

Nic loves the hospitality industry because of the pace. There is always something new and exciting going on with such an engaging community. 

Being part of the Rangatahi Advisory Group excites Nic because it’s a group of incredibly passionate people in the industry that are keen to engage about the future of hospitality. Nic is also excited about creating paths for other young people in the industry and helping shape their futures. 

Mangesh Shah

Mangesh Shah was born and grew up in Eastern Nepal, in a province called Biratnagar.  He commenced studying hospitality and hotel management in Nepal, and moved to New Zealand in 2018 to complete his studies. Mangesh’s first job was at Cassia in Auckland’s Fort Lane, starting out as a dishwasher and working his way up to senior bartender.  

In early 2022 he moved to fine dining establishment Sidart, building and honing his skills as one of Auckland’s top mixologists – and taking away the 2022 Best Bartender Award at the Metro Restaurant of the Year awards. 

Mangesh is grateful to join the Rangatahi Advisory Group to share his experiences and knowledge with others and he loves to meet and connect with new people.  He is also excited by the opportunity to develop his leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring skills. 

Jacob Spackman

Currently a Chef de partie at Kisa restaurant in Wellington, with three years experience in the culinary field.  I previously worked at Ombra in Wellington while studying at Le Cordon Bleu. In 2022, Jacob was a recipient of the Lumina Lamb Rising Star Award and was invited to participate in the Next Gen Cookoff for Wellington on a Plate 2023. 

Since working at Kisa, Jacob has developed a keen interest in unique and often unexplored flavours and cultures which he aims to bring into the Rangatahi Advisory Group. He is very excited to be able to connect with other young people within the industry and thought share his passion for cooking encourage others. 

Jacob Aomarere-Poole

Jacob Aomarere-Poole is the head chef at The Strongroom in Feilding. He has over five years experience in the industry having worked his way up from kitchenhand through to Chef de partie, sous chef and now head chef.  Previously, he was a sous chef at the 1 hatted restaurant Amayjen, he has experience in competitions achieving silvers and bronze and taking out the Lee Kum Kee emerging chef award. His style of cooking varies mainly from classic Italian and Japanese fusion specializing with lamb and beef. The main aspects of his job include focusing on keeping stock loss down, designing menus that not only keep costs down but are fresh and enticing to our customers. His love of the industry comes from seeing what customers enjoy and are willing to try.  He is excited to be part of this group both for his own learning and connection with other young hospitality members and to work with them to support some learning and changes to continue to grow the industry for young people and workplaces. 

Jenna Phillips

Jenna Phillips is a barista trainer at Sacred Grounds Coffee Company in Taupo, having over 10 years of  barista/hospitality experience.  She has always had a love of the art of making coffee which came from her Dad who is a veteran in the coffee industry. He started his own company, Sacred Grounds in 2018, and I started working for him in 2019. Jenna started working in the industry from the age of 12 at various cafes and restaurants doing anything from dishes to coffee making.  

Since working at Sacred Grounds, Jenna has evolved from have been trained herself to training baristas, which is now her main job. She has also competed in the 2023 national Barista Championships, placing 4th overall and winning the “People’s Champion” award. I have been passionate about all things coffee and plan to explore the ever changing industry for the foreseeable future. I feel being a part of the Rangatahi Advisory Group will assist in growing and sharing my skills and experience as well as sharing my voice in the hospitality industry! 

Lena Speed

Lena Speed is the Assistant Restaurant Manager of Loretta. Having previously worked in a small town cafe called Fresca Mediterranean  Foods, Lena has over three years experience in hospitality.  Her main area of expertise is Front of House, yet she thoroughly enjoys behind the scenes management work. The most important aspects of her role include leadership, teamwork and organisation.  

Lena placed runner up in the Welly on a Plate hospitality  scholarship competition, which involved  a lengthy  process of applications and multiple rounds competing with rangatahi across New Zealand. The hospitality industry motivates her to continuously acquire new skills, broaden all areas of knowledge, and create a strong foundation of self-discipline. She is incredibly grateful to be a part of the Rangatahi Advisory Group as I am passionate about driving the new generation of hospitality professionals, and I am excited to learn and grow through this new chapter.

Kira Mance Freire

Kira Mance Freire is the current restaurant manager at Coco’s Cantina on Karangahape road. She has worked in hospo for the last 14 years and Cocos has been her second home since moving to Auckland seven  years  ago. 

She is a hospitality ‘all rounder’ with her focus of the last few years being to make sure she has a happy and healthy team, and creating an environment where people feel proud to work at.  She is  excited to see the hospitality industry move in a more youth friendly direction and loves how a hospitality career can be built around a bubbly personality.  By being a part of the Rangatahi Advisory group I’m excited to have an open dialogue  with other young people who are just as passionate about this industry as I am. 

Ben Newman

Ben is currently Head of Operations at Black Pineapple, a company that believes in bringing quality cocktails to the masses through their events, e-commerce platform, and trade supply channel. 

Ben started his Hospitality journey at 17 and hasn’t looked back, working across Auckland in bars like Bedford Soda & Liquor, The Gin Room, and Cork following a passion for spirits and cocktails. 

After an injury left him unable to get behind the bar, Ben nurtured his other passion in operations and has since helped lead his team into growth through Covid 19 and see them nominated for several  Westpac Business Awards. Keeping on top of a large scale batching operation, nationwide delivery structure, NPD, and onboarding and training of staff has sharpened Ben’s skills and passion for  cocktails and operations to a keen edge. His favourite thing about hospitality is the people and the problem solving, and he’s excited to get young Kiwis interested in hospitality as a career through  legitimate recognised training programs and education initiatives. 

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Josh Renall

Josh is the proud owner operator of Goat Horn Café in Waipawa, having opened the doors for the first time on 26th April 2023.  His path to café ownership began through the Gateway programme while he was at Napier Boys High School, his placement was at Nola Café where he gained over 5 1/2 years experience before taking over the ownership and relaunching it as Goat Horn Café. Josh’s skills are vast, he classifies himself as a home-style baker and cook whilst also being a barista and holding a duity manager’s license. Business ownership has had him continue to build his capability in administration and accounting. He is passionate about the Central Hawkes Bay community of Waipawa and enjoys contributing to the vibe by making his customers happy through providing good food, coffee and customer service. He has also received awards for young employee of the year and been recognised across consecutive years.   Connecting with other young Rangatahi business owners and people working in hospitality to share his journey and insights to support and inspire others into the industry is what Josh is looking forward to by being member of the Rangatahi Advisory Group. 

Gretta Gregory

Greta Gregory

Greta Gregory is an Auckland based Actor and Casting Director, who heads GG Casting Ltd.  

In 2020 she and her partner Cameron Blanchard set up and started Baby G Burger during the first Covid lockdown. After three years of successful pop-ups and events, they leased and opened the doors of a permanent spot in Avondale. Greta was Casting Producer for the 2022 series of MasterChef NZ, and forged fantastic relationships with other foodies, chefs and restaurateurs. Currently casting a new television series for TV Three, she is still every-so-often roped in to work Front of House at Baby G, and loves connecting with the loyal followers, customers and fellow burger-lovers. She is keen to connect with our young entrepreneurs on the Rangatahi Advisory Group to discuss and consider ways of promoting and celebrating the industry to build attraction for  young people.   

The Rangatahi charter

Our Rangatahi Charter is a commitment to actively participate in developing frameworks for our members that support the holistic learning of young people.

Rangatahi Advisory Group mission

  • To advise members on how to create future forward workplaces
  • To ensure our content serves all of our members and potential members
  • To provide impartial advice and information to help our members and future members understand and engage with our industry