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Jun 23, 2017

Timaru entrepreneurs push celebrity cookbook to battle depression

A group of young entrepreneurs from Timaru are hoping to add some star power to a cookbook they are designing to help people with depression. Appetite Aotearoa is the brainchild of year 13 Roncalli College students Hamish Scarsbrook, Isaac Matson, Michael Kemp, Oliver Noone and Marcell Meyer.


Their business concept is centered on helping people through depression using hard copy cookbooks with QR codes on the pages for people to scan, linking to videos of New Zealand celebrities speaking about their experiences with either depression or cooking.

A raft of high profile Kiwis, including the Prime Minister and several television personalities, are already on board, and the students are hoping to attract even more big names to the project.

The group originally pitched the idea to the 'dragons' at a Young Enterprise Scheme Dragons' Den challenge earlier in the month, hosted by the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce. 

The group walked away with an extra $250 investment in their idea from the 'dragons'. 

Now the group is calling for more celebrities to get behind their idea, to help raise awareness of depression within New Zealand. 

High profile New Zealanders already on board, include former Prime Minister John Key, Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt, former Christchurch Boys' High School head boy and cancer survivor Jake Bailey, television and radio personality Mike Puru, Bachelor Art Green, comedian Dai Henwood, rally driver Hayden Paddon, olympian Tom Walsh, ITM Fishing Show host Matt Watson and The Crowd Goes Wild team, Scarsbrook said. 

The most recent public figure to put their support behind the idea on Monday was Prime Minister Bill English. 

"We want to get as many on board as we can," Scarsbrook said.

Noone said it was important to get celebrity backing so their product could gain traction and help as many people as possible. 

"People look up to them and it's someone they can relate to."

He said the QR code part of the book was especially important as people could "connect with the celebrities quite personally" by watching the videos. 

Matson said past students had suffered from depression, which "hit home for us". 

A visit from former All Black and mental health campaigner Sir John Kirwan triggered the idea for the book, Scarsbrook said.

One thing the boys took away from that was "not to bottle it up", and that cooking could be used as a "coping mechanism". 

Scarsbrook said the celebrities had a "big mixed bag" of favourite recipes.

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt cited snails as his favourite cuisine, while former Prime Minister John Key's favourite was beef stroganoff.

The venture is being self funded through fundraisers but the group hopes to get local sponsors on board to help get the book off the ground.


Article by Megan Sutherland, Stuff