Moa catering was established in 1999 by Jan Gardner, as an off-shoot of the highly successful and critically aclaimed "moa room" restaurant which was located in the mission district of san francisco. The moa room was a collaboration between chef Jan Gardner and linda-marie loeb, a farmer, who grew organic produce on her "lazy susan ranch" located in the mayacamas mountains. The produce from the farm supplied the restaurant.
The moa room's success was primarily due to the quality and pure scrumptiousness of the food!! There were two unique aspects to the moa room which set it apart from any other san francisco restaurant at that time and which had a great influence on its success. One was that it served "borderless cuisine" – dishes which were influenced by cuisines from all around the world, which resulted in menus which were eclectic and innovative. The other is that menus changed every week, which resulted in the moa room's clientele continually coming back for "moa"!!
Moa catering continues to maintain these same fundamental views about food as the moa room did. It continues to use the highest quality of produce available, using as much organic and locally produced products as possible and strives to offer its clients new, innovative and eclectic menus influenced by cuisines from around the globe.
Tobias Hardieboys is the current owner and executive chef of moa catering. He took over moa catering from Jan Gardner in december 2000, when she decided to move to new zealand to raise her family. Tobias worked with Jan for 11 months prior to her departure. Both Tobias and Jan are natives of new zealand but met in san francisco through mutual friends. They have both traveled the world extensively and share a common interest in learning about new cultures and discovering new food cuisines as they travel and incorporate these new discoveries into their menu repertoire.
Tobias graduated with a batchelor of science degree in geology and geography from canterbury university and worked for several years in the earth sciences field with a special interest in the preservation of the natural environment. He incorporates his deep concern for the environment into his catering practices and attempts to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible.
Tobias has had a passion for cooking from a very early age and was actually the top student in cooking class for both years of his middle-school education!!
We are often asked about the meaning or significance of the word "moa". Some of our business involves delivering and doing drop-off meals, so one client thought moa stood for "meals on arrival". Another client read moa incorrectly and thought it was "mao" and asked if we specialized in chinese cuisine! Others have asked if we chose the word "moa" as a play-on-words with "more" – but it is not this either – but we did like this idea so we have incorporated it into some of our promotional products and advertising slogans, such as "i want moa!", "Give me moa!" And "the moa the merrier!"
The moa room and moa catering are named after the moa bird, which was endemic to new zealand but unfortunately became extinct more than 500 years ago. Artist impressions on what the moa may have looked like have been created from fossilized skeletal remains. We have used an outline of an artists impression of a moa in our logo.
Moa (mo'a) - maori name for dinomis giganteus. One of the largest birds that ever lived, reaching 12 feet in height and 550 pounds in weight. The flightless and wingless moa once roamed in the rainforests of new zealand.
Like the dictionary definition says, the maori people, who arrived in new zealand about 700 years ago, named the bird "moa", so moa is a maori word. Maori culture is very important to all new zealanders, including the pakeha (non-maori), so when Jan was deciding for a name for her restaurant, she wanted the name to be something unique, but she also wanted it to have meaning for her in a personal way as well as have it say something about where she was from, so she wanted the name to include a maori word.
"Kiwi" would have been a more obvious choice since the kiwi bird is new zealands national bird, and because of this, new zealanders are often referred to as "kiwis". However, most americans don't know that a kiwi is a bird – they only know it as a fruit (the fruit actually got its name from the bird because new zealand was the first country to grow kiwi-fruit on a commercial scale and export it, so the nz growers co-op named it kiwi-fruit as a marketing strategy – the fruits real name is a chinese gooseberry). So americans may have thought it odd to call a restaurant "the kiwi room", thinking it was named after a type of fruit!!
At the time Jan chose the name, it was thought that the closest relative to the moa bird was the kiwi bird, so "moa" seemed like a better choice because it was a relative to our national bird but it wasn't also the name of a fruit!! It has since been suggested from further dna comparisons, that the moa is actually more closely related to the australian emu (relative of the ostrich), which isn't surprising since moa's are 12 feet tall and emu's are 7 feet tall, while even the largest species of kiwi is only 18 inches tall!!
So this is how the moa room and moa catering got its name.