It was an amazing six months for the team at Tiaki, the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion's restaurant. On Wednesday 30 March, the night before Expo 2020 Dubai’s unforgettable closing, their hard work and dedication towards sharing our nation's food and beverage story was recognised at the What's On Awards with Tiaki winning the award for Highly Commended ‘Favourite Expo Food Concept'.
The annual What’s On Awards are the region’s coveted hospitality honours that represent the benchmark for success in the hospitality and entertainment industries.
From the maître d's and waitstaff to the talented chefs and kitchen team, including Laura-Jane Muller, Esther Olatunbosun and Michael Lopesi, the three young chefs from New Zealand, the award was a sweet finale to Tiaki's journey at Expo 2020 Dubai. Tiaki, meaning to care, safeguard, protect and preserve in te reo Māori, demonstrated Aotearoa New Zealand’s special connection to land and sea through its diverse menu – a relationship founded on care, respect, and an understanding that when nature thrives, we all thrive.
Chef Esther Olatunbosun, the 24-year-old chef behind Tiaki’s dessert creations, said the award is “the icing on the cake” to her time at Expo 2020 Dubai. Each day throughout the six-month Expo, Esther was responsible for creating Tiaki’s mouthwatering desserts including the delicious Anzac biscuit ice cream sandwich, Comvita honey cake and of course, a classic New Zealand Pavlova.
From her family's dairy farm in Waikite Valley to Tiaki, all-rounder chef Laura-Jane Muller said that the award was a true reflection of the team’s efforts throughout Expo. She commented: “All our hard work has paid off and the award is a really nice way to end our time at Expo 2020.” Having spent six months sharing New Zealand’s culinary ethos with the world, Michael Lopesi said: “I couldn’t be prouder of what our diverse team has done to put New Zealand food at the forefront of the world stage.”
During Expo 2020, Tiaki welcomed more than 40,000 diners – from morning coffees and cheese scones to midday Kiwi Burgers and evenings enjoying signature dishes alongside the best in New Zealand beverage.