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New experimental kitchen passes the ultimate test

Written by Ryman Healthcare
on November 12, 2020

Ryman’s new test kitchen has passed its ultimate challenge – keeping 10 hungry and discerning residents happy.

The brand-new test kitchen has been fitted out at Ryman headquarters in Christchurch where a former café has been converted into a food lab and teaching space for Ryman’s Hotel Services team.

The team is part way through a revamp of Ryman’s food offering and after weeks of experiments was ready to go with a focus group made up of hungry volunteers from among serviced apartment residents at Charles Upham and Anthony Wilding villages.

On offer was a choice of two lunch mains, salmon fillet with pistachio crust, or stuffed roast chicken, followed by Italian fig cake, custard and ice cream, and finally, coffee.


The lunch was prepared by Matt Orr, Training and Development Chef, and included a test of the new mains, three new ice cream flavours, and a new coffee brand.

Resident Services Quality Manager Andrew Gibson was on serving duties with Resident Experience Manager Rachel Garrard.

Rachel gave the residents a warm welcome, and said it was a big day for the Ryman food team.

“You’re our first resident focus group at our test kitchen so welcome – you’re all special,’’ she told the residents.

“The reason you’re here is that we are making some significant changes in our food service delivery. We’ve completed a comprehensive food review and now we are looking at ways to improve our offering.’’

“The most important thing to do is to test on you – our residents.

“What we think is great might not be so great as far as you are concerned.’’


All 10 residents agreed that food was an important part of each day.

While they looked forward to the food, it was also the company of other residents they enjoyed, Charles Upham resident Joyce Hill said.

“I certainly look forward to lunchtime, I think everybody does. We move around to meet other residents, we’re a social bunch.’’

The resident food tasters soon got down to business, and the room was a hive of eating, chatting and comparing notes.


There was even the odd bit of sharing going on, with bartering going on at one end of the table.

Margaret Shadbolt was a little stuck for words.

“Ooooooh, beautiful,’’ she smiled after her main.

Sam Clark thought his lunch was beautiful, while Robin Andersen said the highlight for him was the asparagus with his salmon.

Rosalie Sterritt felt her lunch was beautifully presented – something that was crucial for her.

Margaret Regan loved the asparagus as well, while her husband Arthur said he was impressed with his chicken. He found a little piece of bone left in, something for the team to work on.

Joyce Hill loved that her serving was not too big.

They were joined for lunch by their van drivers Robert and Cindy, as well as Regional Operations Manager Diana Hanafin.

Since there is no such thing as a free lunch the residents were asked to fill out a food appraisal form at the end, so Matt, Andrew and Rachel could analyse the results.

With happy hours to return to after lunch, the residents headed off in their vans for even more fun.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

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