Our Executive Chef Terence Austin found his calling after a visit to his grandfather’s rest home.

“Food has always been a passion of mine and I firmly believe that meal times should be enjoyable, no matter what your health needs are. My grandfather could only eat soft foods and I took a strong interest in what he was eating and how it was served,” Terence says.

“It was so disappointing. His food looked like tasteless mush and it was affecting his quality of life as the only thing he looked forward to was washing it down with a beer!”

The experience had such an impact on Terence that he made a promise to his grandfather to do something about it.

“That was really the catalyst for changing direction in my food career. I made a promise to my grandfather that I would make sure people in retirement villages could eat real, fresh, tasty food and I pursued that in my work as a consultant to various retirement villages across New Zealand.

Above - Fanned pear and peach

Left - Grilled chicken with broccoli, piped potato and baked pumpkin

Earlier in his career, Terence ran a catering company and owned venues in Howick and Half Moon Bay. He also worked offshore, setting up a phone company in the Philippines and a fuel conditioning company in Florida.

“I never really left food behind though, as I was always trying out local cuisine and learning about new cooking techniques, and I carry all of that with me now,” he says.

Terence first worked at Rawhiti Estate while he was consulting.

“I set up the foodservice arrangements as consultant and was subsequently offered the role of Executive Chef. I really liked the vision that Helen and Guy have for Rawhiti Estate and it aligns well with my own vision around food being something to enjoy, particularly when you have dietary needs or restrictions. They were also willing to give me the tools I needed to help that vision to come to life, so that made it an easy decision,” Terence says.

Terence specialises in creating moulded foods for residents restricted to soft diets that look and taste exactly like regular meals. Getting the texture and flavour of the foods right is crucial so that residents can continue to experience the joy of good food.

“We offer a standard menu meal and the vast majority of it can be replicated in moulded form. I love that we can offer this service as it means our residents who are on soft diets can still enjoy the same experience as those who are not,” says Terence.

“I’m working on adding biscuits, cakes and sandwiches as moulded foods as well, to cover morning and afternoon tea. It’s a small thing, but it means a lot to the people who can keep enjoying those occasions with their friends and family.

Above - Sirloin steak with potato and cabbages

Left - Roast chicken with plum sauce

Terence’s meals are well-loved by our residents and he is passionate about working closely with them to create meals they enjoy.

“It’s an important part of my job to build good relationships with our residents, to get to know them well, understand their dietary needs and keep improving the service we give them. Meals are about more than just what we eat. It’s about how we eat as well, spending time together and enjoying the social aspect of food and I really try to help our residents have a good experience at meal time.”

We say cheers to that.