It should come as no surprise that someone who is expert at developing delicious recipes with scientific and artistic precision has also found the recipe for doing life well.
The surprise is that Hannah Wood seems to have found that recipe so young.
Each step Hannah has taken since school has progressed to something better, more creative, more rewarding, and more in line with her values.
She’s a self-confessed foodie, but ultimately it’s not the food that inspires Hannah the most. It’s the connections between people that food enables.
‘I know that food is such an important way of connecting different people and it’s the connections you have with people that make the biggest impact on your life,’ Hannah says. ‘If you’ve got people around you, that’s what brings the most joy out of life.’
Hannah is the brain and the brawn behind Little ‘Lato, a gelato bar that opened at Crave in Morningside over summer. The opportunity came out of the blue, but like many moments in Hannah’s life, the timing was impeccable.
‘I’d been in discussion with Crave for a little while,’ Hannah says. ‘I’d bought a machine and put it down here [in the basement of Crave]. The concept was that I might start making stuff for their restaurant, then expand to other places. A month before I was about to leave my job, [manager] Nigel messaged saying, Aw we’re thinking about doing a gelato bar.’
Like many episodes in the Crave story, the coming together of circumstances, and the right time, the right place, and the right people, has created a buzz around Little ‘Lato they didn’t really anticipate.
‘It’s just a blessing to be able to do it from here,’ Hannah says. ‘This place is packed all the time. And it’s a really cool community of people, loyal supporters. And then with all the development going on around the area, it’s just going to get busier and busier.’
Doing gelato wasn’t always Hannah’s dream. But it was in the wind. Hannah first learnt about food technology at school, then on the back of scholarships studied food tech at Massey University, after which she landed a position at Fonterra. Fonterra’s grad program saw Hannah move away from Auckland for the first time, doing spells in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Taranaki.
While she worked on nutritional products such as baby formula, Hannah’s passion was always brands.
‘I wanted to be involved in products that you see in NZ supermarkets. Just the thought of going in and seeing my work. The first time I ever had a product in the supermarket was when I was in a summer job at Much Moore Kiwi Ice Cream Company. I just remember going into supermarkets and having photos and it’s so exciting when you actually see that.’
The shift to gelato came after Hannah visited a gelato university in Italy, thanks in part to a scholarship that helped fund an overseas research trip.
‘I just got inspired when I was there, thinking it would be so cool to do something with this. Maybe I should do something with gelato back home in NZ.’
Hannah describes 2017 as her decision year—when she realised it was time to take real steps towards her own business. What began as something of a hobby—creating gelato recipes on the weekend—snowballed into a fully-formed business proposition.
And so far it’s been everything she hoped it would be. Hannah loves the freedom to create new flavours every week, and her heart is set on achieving more through her creations.
‘I want gelato to be some sort of vessel [for community]. Eventually I want to do things with different organisations and use gelato as a means to do more than just gelato. ‘But you’ve got to start somewhere.’