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Blog · Food & Recipes

From the Reef to The Ritz – food adventures at Pittwater Palms


With a storied career in hospitality, Wayne Sawyer’s forty years in the kitchen has morphed him into a diverse chef; one that’s impossible to fit in a box!

Over the years, Wayne has adapted and responded to culinary trends, managed teams of coveted chefs and hosted private cooking demonstrations to share his craft. From living and working on a motor yacht, catching fresh seafood for his guests off the Great Barrier Reef, to tasting his way through France for his position at The Hotel Ritz in Paris, this is one chef with stories to tell.

Where were you before you started with Pittwater Palms retirement village?

I’m proud of my career - it’s seen me experience some pretty amazing things all over the world.

Here I am now sharing stories with residents with equally amazing stories to tell. If I was to run you through everything we’d be here all day! So, I’ll give you the highlights.

I worked and lived on a motor yacht for three years. That was a truly amazing experience. I would prepare fresh seafood for our guests, caught fresh up and down the coast of Queensland and into the Northern Territory Rivers where Barramundi thrive.

I also did a stint at The Hotel Ritz in Paris where I completed a course on French sauces after touring around France for five weeks sampling regional cuisines. It’s safe to say I can make a great sauce! More recently, I worked with a hospitality agency in Sydney, which is when I first dipped my toe into retirement living.

Once I had and the Chef Manager position came up, I knew it was the right step.


Where does your passion for food come from?

That’s a good question. It evolved from a desire to learn, create and grow myself and others. I quickly found I could do that through food.

It comes from the ability to create food from great Australian produce that’s on our doorstep and the smiles that brings to the faces of clients, customers, and residents. Over time, passion creates passion, which drives me to try new things.

So what do you enjoy most about your role as Chef Manager at Pittwater Palms?

I like to excite our residents through flavour - from the first bite to the sweet finale! It’s rewarding to know we’re enriching their lives and bringing residents together through food.

The compliments come in spades and over time you really get to know what each resident prefers. Our team works really well together on the wants and needs of each resident.

Our team is tight-knit, as is our community.

What’s on the menu at Pittwater Palms?

Our menu follows a standard structure with some chefs' flair added through the weekly specials menu. Light mains at dinner are where we really get to create and have fun with flavours that achieve really interesting outcomes! It’s nice to surprise and delight.

Favourites amongst residents are roasts and nice warm soups, tempura battered fish and chips, golden syrup dumplings, bread and butter pudding. And good ol’ fashioned cheesecake with flavour adaptations.

Our monthly Friday night happy hour specials menu is always a sell out! We mix the modern with the traditional and residents never forget to book a table. Oh, and we all look forward to a fish and chip Friday!


Any words of wisdom for aspiring chefs?

Now that’s a hard one. Approach the hospitality industry with an open mind.

Secure qualifications to travel and to be creative across all facets, from menu construction to customer experience. It turns on a passion for cooking at work and at home. The long-term benefits outweigh the short-term pain of working long hours.

So, make a decision, find your inner strength and passion, and go for it.

Chef Wayne’s stirring words make anyone want to start an exciting career in hospitality! Not only does he bring brilliant flavours, but also fantastic stories to residents with his inspired cuisine. If you'd like to find out more about what it is like to make the change to an Aveo retirement community and enjoy gourmet meals every day, have a look at our free First Step Guide below. This 12-page booklet includes definitions, tips, check lists, and much more on several areas related to retirement living, including the lifestyle and support that you can look forward to.


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