Training & Development Skills advisory group

The Training & Development Skills advisory group will be convened to address the evolving needs of the workforce and ensuring that operators and their employees are equipped with the right skills and knowledge. Its primary purpose is to consider our industry’s relevant training gaps with a view to development by the RA to fill those gaps, or collaborations with other partners. The RA’s professional development programme, Hospo Start, Te Tupu Tahi and other training initiatives are existing ways we are addressing industry needs and we will utilise the group’s knowledge of these programmes, as well as others, to ensure we remain aligned with industry needs and demands. Through this group we will be striving to enhance employment outcomes and retention, foster career growth, and maintain a skilled and adaptable workforce

Meet the Members

<strong>Krishna Botica</strong>

Krishna Botica

Director – Comensa, Café Hanoi, Ghost Street, Perch

Krishna Botica is a widely acclaimed restaurateur, known for her commitment to promoting quality and excellence within the hospitality industry.   

With over 30 years’ industry experience, Krishna co-owns and operates Comensa; the group company of award winning eateries Cafe Hanoi, Ghost Street and Perch. Krishna has won numerous hospitality accolades and is the president of the Auckland chapter of the Restaurant Association. 

Born in Auckland in 1971, Krishna Botica has been associated with hospitality since the age of 14, ensconced since 18 and managing establishments since 23. Botica has worked in such diverse markets as Boston, London and the Auckland City Art Gallery coffee shop and as a waiter, bartender, maître d’ and company director. Her name and expertise have been associated with many of the groundbreaking Auckland restaurants that have set the groundwork for the city’s current burgeoning dining scene including Prego, Metropole, S.P.Q.R. Krishna joined Café Hanoi as a director on its founding in 2010 and remains director to this day, adding saan, Xuxu Dumpling Bar and Comensa to her portfolio. As well as her love for hospitality, Krishna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Auckland with a double major in 16th Century English Literature and Italian Language & Culture and holds a Level 4 Workplace Assessor qualification from the Hospitality Standards Institute.  

<strong>Margaret Main</strong>
Marg Main

Margaret Main

Marg is an industry professional with over 30 years of experience, in a mixture of roles and venues within the hospitality sector.  An experienced people and capability leader, Marg has a strong background knowledge in front of house service, wine and leadership principles. She is a creative facilitator who is comfortable in both working with and training a variety of staff. Most importantly she has a hospitality sense of humour! Her favourite food is cheese, favourite beverage is wine, and favourite place in NZ is Abel Tasman National Park. 


With an enthusiastic, motivating and passionate approach Marg set up, owned & operated an award-winning restaurant in Hawkes Bay as well as testing out a variety of other roles within the industry.  She then took this experience and created Turning Tables in 2007 as a hospitality training and coaching business which aimed to help hospitality owners with their onsite training needs with the goal to assist in the retention, development and growth of their teams. 

Over time the business has developed further and now has a strong focus in developing the leadership potential of team members within both hospitality and retail businesses through tailormade in house sessions, public workshops, online learning as well as one on one coaching

<strong>Erin Lawton McKenzie</strong>

Erin Lawton-McKenzie

Head of FOH Operations for Floriditas and Loretta and has worked for the Restaurants for 13 years.

Through 23 years of hospitality experience, Erin has developed a passion for creating a strong culture in the workplace. She has a passion for leadership development and firmly believes that culture is the number one key to staff retention and a thriving performance based workplace environment. Her greatest satisfaction is seeing the success that comes from building strong and cohesive teams, a success that benefits everyone. Currently all members of the entire leadership team at both Loretta and Floriditas started from junior or entry level roles within the business, something she is very proud of.  Erin has been on the committee for the Wellington Felix Hospitality awards for 7 years, and also mentors other young leaders in the hospitality industry independently. 

<strong>Geeling Ching</strong>

Geeling Ching

Geeling Ching is the Operations Manager at Soul Bar & Bistro, a role she held for the first 12 years of Soul’s life, and one that she has recently returned to. In her words she “does everything no-one else wants to do”! Part of that broad scope is the management of HR/employment for the business, which currently employs 95 staff. She started in hospitality as a dishwasher in a late-night café in Sydney’s Kings Cross, moved briefly into the kitchen but “was hopeless”, then graduated to front of house which suited her just perfectly! She has worked in hospitality for over 30 years and has seen the Auckland scene grow from a handful of restaurants to become a world-class dining destination. The best part about her job is watching people who don’t fit into the ‘normal’ education system and think they are no good at anything find their calling in hospitality and become happy, fulfilled, successful individuals. 

<strong>Emma Walters</strong>

Emma Walters

Emma Walters is co-owner / Director at The Falls Retreat which is a lifestyle property in Karangahake Gorge offering dining experiences, cooking and gardening workshops, accommodation, and events. 

My background is in FOH and marketing but as a small business owner and having started it from scratch, she is a ‘jack of all trades’. Her current focus is on HR/people management marketing and communications, business idea development and sustainability (runners up in Keep NZ Beautiful Awards for Most Sustainable Small Business in 2017) 

Emma is also a member of Waikato RSLG (Regional Skills leadership Group) representing tourism, retail and hospitality and feel passionate about investment in young people and promoting our industry as an exciting and rewarding career choice. She specialises in taking care of people (staff and guests) and think this is the most important part of my job.  

<strong>Deb Riach</strong>

Deb Riach

Deb has been involved in the hospitality industry for the past 20 years, previously she worked in public relations, branding and marketing in the banking industry. 

In 1993, Deb and her husband Ian bought Okuku Country Lodge a luxury lodge and functions/conference centre in North Canterbury.  With accommodation for 20 and the ability to hold functions for up to 100 people.  They successfully ran the business for 11 years. 

While running the Lodge, we (in partnership) started a coffee bar concept called Coffee Culture in Sumner. We then decided to open another outlet and Coffee Culture has gone on to become a very successful Coffee chain.  My role was to develop the overall concept and design of the business, which was set up from inception to be a franchise.  This was a new business model at the time and we became one of the forerunners of the huge growth industry in coffee cafes in Christchurch. 

<strong>Rebecca Smidt</strong> 

Rebecca Smidt

Rebecca Smidt is the General Manager of Cazador Restaurant and Delicatessen.  

Cazador is a multi award winning, family owned and operated Auckland restaurant and deli, serving produce and protein sourced from local hunters and producers. Rebecca has 20 years’ industry experience and co-authored the much awarded cookbook Cazador, Game, Offal and the rest. 

<strong>Elizabeth Myburgh</strong>

Elizabeth Myburgh
National Operations Manager, Muffin Break & Jamaica Blue
Foodco New Zealand Ltd

Elizabeth’s experience in hospitality spans over 20 years, and she is currently employed by Food co New Zealand Ltd in the role of National Operations Manager, Muffin Break & Jamaica Blue. She has been privileged to work in various roles including business consultancy and as a trainer of customer service as well as having also owned small businesses within the industry.  Deeply passionate about hospitality and strongly believe in supporting it’s growth and addressing the distinct challenges it faces.

<strong>Josh Emett</strong>

Josh Emett

Kiwi Chef Josh Emett is the owner of Auckland’s Onslow and Waiheke Island’s The Oyster Inn. Brought up on a farm outside Hamilton in New Zealand, Josh discovered cooking and his love of food at a young age. After graduating Josh travelled to Melbourne and London working in highly regarded restaurants before landing a dream job with Gordon Ramsay, quickly working his way up the ranks and being part of his Michelin Star team. In 2006, he oversaw the opening in New York of Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC, and later Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood. Receiving exceptional reviews in both the British and American media, in 2008 he was named ‘New York Rising Star Chef’ appeared as a guest judge on Hell’s Kitchen USA, and won the new Food Network’s show Chopped. In 2010, Emett moved to Melbourne to open Gordon Ramsay’s first two restaurants in Australia – Maze and Maze Grill – along with operating the food and Beverage service in Australia’s largest hotel, the Crown Metropol. From there came appearances on MasterChef Australia and MasterChef New Zealand. He joined MasterChef New Zealand fulltime in the second series. Today, Josh and his wife Helen Emett own and run three restaurants. Onslow and Gilt Brasserie in Auckland City and The Oyster Inn on Waiheke Island.  

Onslow is the culmination of Josh Emett’s culinary journey from London to New York and back to Aotearoa. A landmark Auckland address steeped in history, Onslow references the Old World but is decidedly modern; a sophisticated yet relaxed restaurant that celebrates New Zealand’s exceptional provenance. Onslow redefines the classic, where impeccable service, delicious food and timeless style are the order of the day.  

The Oyster Inn on Waiheke Island is an elegant and classic coastal-inspired bistro and has just celebrated its 10 year anniversary. Josh takes an honest approach to the menu, serving delicious uncomplicated dishes that allow the ingredients to shine for themselves and leave you wanting more. Where possible ingredients are sourced locally from sustainable and organic produce.  

Gilt at Chancery Chambers opened in October 2023, an all-day brasserie channelling timeless, contemporary European dining in one of the city’s most storied neighbourhoods. Gilt is an ode to contemporary brasserie dining famous in the world’s most vibrant, energetic cities from New York to Paris 

<strong>Anton Jackson</strong>

Anton Jackson

Anton Jackson, head of operations at Rollickin Gelato, brings over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. He started as a Barista and steadily climbed the ranks, working with renowned cafe chains like Costa Coffee, Cafe Nero, and Compass Group in the UK. Since 2019, Anton has spearheaded operations at Rollickin, initially managing the Cashel St branch before assuming his current role. 

With a focus on advancing operational procedures and HR, Anton plays a pivotal role in driving the company forward. He is passionate about coaching staff to excel in their career paths and is currently dedicated to enhancing the structure and resources for supervisor and managerial roles. The social dynamics of hospitality, along with the diverse interactions with staff and clients, continue to fuel Anton’s passion for the industry. 


We want to keep a finger on the pulse of the issues that our industry are facing and welcome any feedback from our members. Please fill in the below form if you’d like to send us confidential feedback.