December 10, 2023

Leo Molloy apologises after fake food menu at Auckland fundraiser dubbed ‘childish’, racist, ‘anti-queer’

He said one item on the menu was "poorly thought out".

The fake food menu featured at a fundraiser event in Auckland has been labelled “childish” and “anti-queer” and the man responsible has since apologised. 

The Dame Maire Quinn Memorial Debate raised $13,000 for the Auckland Mayoral Relief Fund and included a lineup of celebrity debaters.

The lineup featured Mayor Wayne Brown, former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry, former politician Shane Jones, comedian Guy Williams, National MP Judith Collins and Sean Plunket.

Leo Molloy, owner of the Auckland Viaduct bar, HeadQuarters, hosted the fundraising event and was also on the panel. So too was young Labour Party activist, Jacques Maitland. 

The event was called ‘The moot, all media are drongos’, in reference to Mayor Brown’s infamous Whatsapp message during the Auckland anniversary floods, where Brown told his tennis group he couldn’t play because he had to “deal with media drongos over the flooding”.

Newshub has seen a picture of the fake menu from Tuesday night’s event, which included items named after politicians, media personalities and the LGBTQIA+ community along with opinionated and potentially offensive descriptions.

One item was called “Alf and Josephine’s chocolate chip cookie shake,” named after Auckland Councillors Alf Filipaina and Councillor Josephine Bartley.

The description of their item read, “Thick as wet cement and as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike”.

They had both heard bits of what was written on the fake menu before Newshub contacted them, but not a full description.

Bartley, who is Samoan, told Newshub she had people contact her “concerned about the racial overtones in the description, [especially] the reference to chocolate chip”.

Bartley said while the event was for a good cause, she believes “we’ve gone past making fun of people to fundraise. We’ve gone past that as a society”.

“I think it’s just childish. Actually no because children know better.”

Filipaina said when he heard the chocolate chip reference, that for him meant “darkies”.

“It’s about the dark people. If they want to use racial sort of comments to do their fundraising, you know, so be it. Nothing I can do.”

When asked if the chocolate chip reference feels racist, Filipaina said “It does for me”.

Filipaina told Newshub their “low” blows in order to fundraise “obviously didn’t work that well if they only got what was it, $13,000?”.

The fake menu also featured a “HQ LGBQTTIQ@Z word salad” item.

The description said: “Them, they, who the f$%k cares. No one gives a f%$k sweetie, just get it done and wash your hands afterwards,” read the menu description. 

Newshub approached LBTQIA+ advocate Shaneel Lal about the item, they said “the whole event is a mess”.

“A group of predominantly non-queer white men got together with a menu that is glaringly sexist and anti-queer.”

They wondered “why there isn’t a menu dedicated to white men”.

A spokesperson for Mayor Wayne Brown distanced himself from the menu saying the Mayor was “not responsible for, nor had any prior knowledge, of the menu”.

“I suggest you take it up with the proprietor.”

So Newshub did. 

On Wednesday night, event host Molloy blamed artificial intelligence telling Newshub members of his staff used ChatGBT, to create the menu.

Newshub attempted to put Bartley’s concerns to Molloy but he had “no interest” in what Bartley had to say.

Molloy said he hadn’t seen the menu before it was printed and believed it was “yesterday’s news”. He went on to suggest the people Newshub had spoken to were probably not relevant.

Molloy then provided Newshub with a further comment on Thursday afternoon, where he made clear that the event was a “roast, for a very good cause, and hence no one was scared”. 

He said the dessert option described as “Alf and Josephine’s chocolate chip cookie shake”, was “poorly thought out”.

“It should’ve been any one of our other desserts, maybe a lemon tart, or sticky date pudding.”

Molloy said no racial slur was ever intended. He apologised to both councillors.  

“I’m happy to accept responsibility for that mistake as I should’ve checked that item before it was printed.”

Molloy said HQ has a history of working with “disadvantaged members of the South Auckland community” which is “well documented though, and both Alf and Josephine know that”.

Filipaina told Newshub Molloy called him on Thursday to personally apologise.

“I just want to acknowlege Leo, who organised the event. He rang me, we had a conversation and he obviosuly didn’t check and I know he’s not a racist.”

As for the “HQ LGBQTTIQ@Z word salad”, Molloy said the menu item was “tested on members of the LGBT community prior, as a joke, and it was well received”.

“We haven’t had any hysterical feedback from that particular item.”

Molloy reiterated that the event was a roast, but said “there will always be some snowflakes who may be easily offended”.

“We stand by our record of raising funds for worthwhile charities, many hundreds of thousands of dollars during the HQ era, and if we’ve somehow managed to offend a couple of precious fragile types with this particular roast we apologise (sort of),” he said.

“But [I] suggest those offended should maybe harden up, get a life, and do something useful and productive for the community themselves.”

Other menu items included mentions of Auckland Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick.

“Chloe’s green salad,” read the menu item. 

“A handful of sticky buds w (with) a hash cookie and diced magic mushrooms. Guaranteed to leave you like a left wing voter, not working.”

Newshub approached Swarbrick’s office for comment. 

The menu also had a pop at the media. 

“The media platter,” the menu item read. 

“72 percent lies, the other 28 percent is not true, generously soaking in woke sauce. Served with a pinch of salt. Not meant for human consumption,” read the description.

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