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Deliciously long lunch to feed 5,000

Food revolution under way at Ryman’s retirement villages

More than 5,000 Ryman Healthcare residents sat down to a deliciously long lunch to signal the start of a food revolution across the company’s villages.

The Long Lunch was held to coincide with Shrove Tuesday and the launch of Project Delicious – Ryman’s all-new approach to food.

Residents from Whangarei to Invercargill enjoyed their new Project Delicious menus which are packed with new choices along with old favourites.

The lunch menu entrees included Salmon cakes with aioli, blue cheese apricot and walnut filo, and salt and pepper hoki.

The mains choices were beef cheeks, apricot chicken or an Asian slaw with chickpeas and edamame beans.

There were pancakes for dessert to mark Shrove Tuesday and residents were given a choice of wines to match the food.

Ryman Healthcare Managing Director Simon Challies said Project Delicious was a recognition that food was a huge focus for residents.

“We know that mealtimes are the most important part of the day. By giving residents more choice and new options we hope that they will look forward to meal times even more.’’

Developing menus with more choice introduces more complexity for chefs, and Ryman is investing in redesigning its kitchens and putting in extra resources to make it work. As part of the change, responsibility for plating up the meals has been given back to the kitchens, so the people who create the food have the final say in how it looks.

Ryman Hotel Services Manager Andrew Gibson said Project Delicious was all about delivering the old-fashioned home cooked meals that residents love and appreciate.

“We went through every single comment in our residents’ survey to work out exactly what they wanted. They like the classics, they like fresh seasonal ingredients and they want food that is not bland in any way. I think there’s a misconception about the sort of food you like as you get older – there is no way they just want to eat bland food. Food is really important.’’

One of the surprising discoveries was that fish and chips was a polarising dish –as many people liked the menu choice as disliked it. They also wanted to see less in the way of casseroles.

Tried and tested dishes such as roast chicken rub shoulders with exotic newcomers including Thai beef salad on the new menus.

“We’ve tried to get a good mix of the old favourites – with some much more interesting meals. A good example is osso bucco – cross cut beef shank – and we have developed our own calzone (pizza).

New Scandinavian hot boxes have been introduced to make sure the food is delivered fresh and hot to residents in exactly the way the chef intended.

The test kitchen for Project Delicious is at Essie Summers Retirement Village in Christchurch.

Chef Karen Jenkins has been cooking for 35 years and loves to experiment.

“I don’t think we quite realized what we were getting into and how much work it would be,’’ she laughs.

“But I’ve loved taking part. It was never daunting and I was very pleased to be asked.’’

Rosemary Deane, Village Manager at Essie Summers, has enjoyed being part of the project.

She says you cannot overestimate how important food is to a village’s success.

“For many residents their day revolves around food. Giving them more choice about what they eat is great. They can choose their clothes, they can choose what they do each day but it is the one fixed point for them – and it is really important to them.’’

“It’s not only the residents – it’s the relatives as well. The first thing they want to know is that mum or dad are really enjoying their food. Our food must be top-notch all the time.’’

Chefs at Ryman Healthcare’s 31 villages serve up about 10,000 meals each day.


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