Molly Coutts is hoping to make an impact on the Whangarei food scene.

The 23-year-old Masters student wants to take the stress out of catering by delivering and setting up an extravagant, gourmet platter/grazing table suitable for any occasion.

Her new Whangarei-based business, Platterful, is aimed at anyone hosting an event.

The "grazing tables" can be adapted to all needs, be that a children's themed birthday, work function or a wedding, she said.

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Ms Coutts, who also restores the timber to create hand-crafted and unique boards for the food, said Platterful offers options serving from four to 50 people and more with food sourced locally, as much as possible.

Ms Coutts said she got the idea for the business after returning to Whangarei from Wellington where she completed her undergraduate degree, a double major in psychology and international relations, and noticed a huge change in the culture here.

"This was encouraging and with all its [Whangarei's] latest innovations, i.e. Hundertwasser, the night food markets and new walkways I thought it a good time to come up with my own enterprise.

"I decided why not just go for it and share my love of food, rather than waiting behind a barricade of 'buts' until somebody else picks up the idea and runs with it."

Molly Coutts with one of her most recent platter creations, catering for 20-25 people at an event last Friday.
Molly Coutts with one of her most recent platter creations, catering for 20-25 people at an event last Friday.

Ms Coutts said as her first business experience she went in blind but had support and guidance from people which has made the process reasonably painless.

"The one thing that tripped me up a bit was figuring out how the tax system works in relation to owning a business, but I have that figured out now thanks to the help of my partner's accountant sister."

"I love interacting with people and different businesses and it is a new way to see the happenings of Whangarei," she said.

The Masters student studying Industrial and Organisational Psychology through Massey University, said juggling studies, exams and a business venture over the past two months was tricky at times, "particularly because making platters was much more exciting than hitting the textbooks".

"However, if I knew I had a platter gig the next day I would stay up studying late to balance it out. Because I study extramurally, it allows for flexibility in that way whereby I can work my research schedule around other demands."

Ms Coutts was born in Gisborne and lived there for two years before the family moved to Whangarei. They stayed here for a year and then moved to the United States for six years where she did some of her schooling.

"That was an amazing experience and it's so great to have connections there when I go back."

After that the family moved back to Whangarei where she lived until aged 18.

She then took a gap year to travel around Europe and the States before settling in Wellington for three years to study.

She has just completed exams in the first year of her Masters' degree studies and is in the planning stages of her thesis for next year.

"Whilst I absolutely love what I study, it does not necessarily allow room for my creative flair [which is where Platterful comes in]".

Platterful can cater for Christmas functions, birthdays, weddings, engagement parties, baby showers, business events or "really any excuse to eat cheese and drink wine", Ms Coutts said.