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Top chef Marc Soper of Wharekauhau Country Estate to judge New Zealand’s top care home cuisine


Marc Soper is used to creating sensational dishes for high-paying guests at the luxury Wharekauhau Country Estate in Wairarapa. Now, the multi-award winning executive chef, who was also crowned Chef of the Capital in both 2015 and 2016, is going to bring his exacting standards to bear as a judge of the 2017 New Zealand Senior Lifestyle Cuisine 

Lifestyle Cuisine cooking competition at the NZ Hospitality Championships in Auckland on Sunday 30 July.

For Marc, it’s a great opportunity to find out how New Zealand’s elderly are catered for. 

“It’s really important to have chefs putting themselves out there to create dishes that give pleasure to our older generation,” he says. 

Even at Wharekauhau, famous for upscale fine-dining and homegrown produce, Marc is well-familiar with the regular challenge of reinventing dishes to satisfy and delight diners with different dietary requirements. 

Marc really empathises with older diners. Being a diabetic has helped him to become a highly flexible and inventive chef for those people with food intolerances. 

“New Zealand has a wealth of high quality fresh food and produce and I’m interested to see how chefs are being innovative with our seasonal fare,” says Marc. “I’m also keen to see the different cookery techniques and how the competing chefs are going to present their dishes that not only have to taste delicious and be nutritious, but the food also has to look delicious.” 

Marc joins an experienced team of professionals on the judging panel: Southern Hospitality National Account Sales Manager Mark Wylie (head judge), Copthorne Wellington Executive Chef & President Wellington Branch Chefs Association, Chetan Pangam, Bidfood National Seafood Manager Steve Roberts, Novotel Auckland Executive Chef Nancye Prini, and Southern Hospitality Group Chief Executive Tony Taylor. 

Adding new flavour to care home cuisine

Pippa Saxon, ServiceIQ Sector Manager of Hospitality, Food Services and QSR, and Chair of Senior Lifestyle Cooking Competition is determined to achieve top quality dining for the enjoyment of senior citizens in residential care homes nationwide.

She was responsible for launching the ‘Lifestyle Cuisine’ category in 2015 with two other industry experts, Food Advisory Service Consultant Pip Duncan, and MediRest Area Manager Shaun Corlett. 

Pippa says that there’s a perception that rest home food is boil-in-the bag, dull, grey, and inedible. But that this is changing for a range of reasons, not least the insistence by families that their elderly relatives are served delicious, good quality food, and increased competition in the sector.

“It can be a challenge for chefs to create a varied menu, three meals a day, seven days a week, and at the same time, provide nutritionally-balanced meals that are fresh, tasty, attractive and popular with residents, especially those with dietary needs. But with skill, practice and New Zealand’s abundance of fresh produce, good looking gourmet-style dishes can easily be on the menu,” says Pippa.

Raised in the UK, Pippa’s experience working in some of England’s smartest hotels helped make her a stickler for the highest possible standards of service for everyone – from restaurant guests dining out to senior citizens dining in. Her 25-year career in the hospitality industry includes stints at luxurious, two Michelin star ‘Gidleigh Park Hotel in Devon, and Relais & Chateau’s five-star Summer Lodge in Dorset voted #2 in the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice for Top Hotels in UK and Ireland 2016. 

At ServiceIQ, Industry Training Organisation for the hospitality sector, Pippa heads up a team of advisors who help kitchen staff in care homes, hospitals, catering businesses and correctional facilities to upskill in high quality catering via on-job training programmes and apprenticeships.

“More and more of New Zealand’s residential homes are striving to serve delicious, nutritious and beautifully presented dishes by training their kitchen staff in quality catering,” says Pippa.

Culinary training includes ServiceIQ’s Catering Apprenticeships, which, says Pippa are the best way for talented kitchen staff to get an education, experience and earn at the same time. 

Care homes are clamouring to compete in the popular competition that is into its third year. 

This year’s finalist chefs in New Zealand’s Senior Lifestyle Cuisine cooking competition are: 

Andrew Jelley from Oceania Healthcare Palm Grove in Christchurch

Shelley Upfold from Palms Lifecare in Pukekohe 

Shafa Rahman from Bupa Parkstone Care home in Christchurch

Don Gourlay from Bupa Cashmere View Hospital and Rest Home in Christchurch

Rodney Phillips from Oceania Elderslea Rest Home in Wellington

Dwain Tokoara from Medirest – Compass Group Middlemore Hospital

Surachai Rattanapu from Medirest – Compass Group, Eastcliffe Retirement Village in Auckland

Stephen Iraia from Ryman Princess Alexandra Retirement Village in Napier

Paul Korunic from Ryman Anthony Wilding Retirement Village in Christchurch

Mike Jones from Ambridge Rose Healthcare in Auckland

For more information, please contact Pippa Saxon, ServiceIQ Sector Manager of Hospitality, Food Services and QSR, and Chair of Senior Lifestyle Cooking Competition on: 027 4300485, or