As well as more choice and new dishes on the menu, Ryman Healthcare’s Project Delicious involves changes in serving and food presentation too.
“The starting point was to read every single comment that came in our residents’ survey and to work out exactly what they wanted,” explains Ryman Hospitality Manager Andrew Gibson. “They like the classics, they like fresh seasonal ingredients and they want food that is not bland in any way.”
The new weekly menus still include old favourites such as mince on toast, along with more interesting additions such as osso bucco – a cross cut beef shank - and a new Ryman-developed calzone in partnership with an artisan supplier.
The choice of meals is at both lunch and dinner, and there is also a vegetarian and option too.
Perhaps the biggest change comes in the serving and presentation of food, with serving and presentation of the food being put back into the hands of the kitchen staff. Kitchen spaces are being reorganised and old serveries are being taken out of the village lounges.
In addition, four new Ryman villages have Scandinavian hot boxes to ensure food is delivered fresh and hot to residents in exactly the way the chef intended.
Project Delicious initially ran as a pilot in Ryman’s Essie Summers retirement village in Christchurch New Zealand. Rosemary Deane, Village Manager says you cannot overestimate how important food is to a village’s success and it was great to give residents a choice.
One resident George Booker, says residents were pleased to get menu choices.
“We all wanted more choice and I think that’s why they changed it. The thing is, when you have no choice, you just get what’s put in front of you. Having choice is very good,’’
“My favourite is still the roasts – we get that choice three days a week. Beef or chicken – I like both,’’ he says.
Ms Deane points out, choice is also important to relatives too. “The first thing they want to know is that mum or dad is really enjoying their food. Our food must be top-notch all the time.”