South Coast Chats : SFN 2024
Eat and Drink ~ Event Venues ~ Producers ~ To Do ~ What's On

South Coast Chats : SFN 2024

  • Kate Mather
  • 25 April 2024

This week I got to catchup with the amazing Di Laver founder and co-ordinator of the Shoalhaven Food Network.  Di works tirelessly across the industry of hospitality, supporting, teaching and sharing knowledge, Di was the Senior Head Teacher of Tourism and Hospitality at Nowra and Ulladulla TAFE Campus’ for 36 years. Her passion for the industry is well known on the South Coast and she is famous for the way she continues to dedicate her life to it – even in
‘retirement’. She has developed this amazing food network that in 2024 will showcase 80 events across the year.

I am in awe of the work and expertise she sends out, love highlighting and collaborating with her network and always enjoy a catchup as her energy is inspiring. Grab a cuppa and start planning your next stay around one of these fabulous events!

Where is your South Coast business based? 

The Shoalhaven Food Network extends from Berry in the North to Bawley Point in the south of the beautiful Shoalhaven and we have members from all aspects of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

Tell us about it and why people love it so much?

The Hospitality Industry was really struggling after the events of the last four years, – fires, floods, covid, and so I was asked to help the industry survive. The already established Jervis Bay Food Network was re-vitalised, and extended to include the whole of Shoalhaven. We now integrate The Autumn Celebration of Food (6 week celebration, with this year 80+ events) with our gaining Through Training Programme, which introduces enthusiastic young people to the industry through a structured mentoring program. Last year 16 of our trainees were successful in gaining Apprenticeships and Traineeships. The other aspect of our motivation is to advocate for our industry to all levels of government, and accessing funding to help in promotion of our members.

Give us some examples of what makes the south coast food network unique?

We love the collaborations between our chefs, producers, brewers, and distillers, and the opportunities we provide for our industry members to network in informal get-togethers as well. These are invaluable in sharing knowledge, ideas and opportunities, and I don’t know anywhere else where this happens. For example, coming up in May we have The Battle of Burton St, with two local cafes joining together to create a Middle Eastern feast, and declaring it “a battle” to judge the best cook, plus a collaboration between Cupitt’s, Gwylo and Bannisters with a fabulous “Moving Feast” , to name just a couple of our events.  Our members are so supportive of each other, in what is usually a highly-competitive environment,. We love that!

You have so many great reviews, what’s your secret?

The old adage – “You never get a second chance at a first impression” means we have to get it right first time, and with so many of our local chefs and hospitality staff  having been trained at Nowra TAFE, the standard of food, customer service and presentation (of person, plate and place) means that they do “get it right”!.

Why do you love collaborating with South Coast Experiences?

South Coast Experiences is all about promoting the best of the region, and respecting and supporting the passionate professionals that live and work here. This is exactly why our team of passionate volunteers are so committed to the Shoalhaven Food Network, we are all here to support the amazing people who make our industry, and to provide locals and visitors alike with unique foodie experiences.

Any plans or announcements you would like to share?

We are just so excited about our forthcoming Autumn Celebration of Food. This is our third year, and it’s going to be amazing! With over 80 events, from Cake Decorating for kids, to a premium dinner showcasing the fabulous Shiraz Wines of Australia in one of the prettiest settings on the coast, and collaborations with distillers and chefs, butchers and brewers, there’s something for everyone!

Find out all about the events via clicking here