This winter, Wanaka Presbyterian Church on Tenby Street has been hosting a free two-course dinner every other Tuesday at 6.30pm for ski resort staff to enjoy.
Last Tuesday was the penultimate Free Ski Staff Dinner of the season, the last supper scheduled for September 10, and the church fed around 70 workers in total from Cardrona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm NZ, offering up a roast, vegetarian pasta dish and ice cream cake topped off with fruit, chocolate and whipped cream.
Physiotherapist Ryan Lobb was behind the initiation of this regular seasonal church event four years ago and continues to help organise it to this day.
Lobb said, “What we’re trying to get across is two things, really. We’d like to communicate to the ski workers that we appreciate and value what they bring to our community here in Wanaka, so a wee bit of a thank you, and also just a way of us being able to communicate God’s grace which is given freely to us, so passing that on, so to speak.”
The regular event is funded predominantly via the church’s budget and is run by a team of volunteers who prepare, set the tables, cook, serve and clean the dishes each fortnight.
Volunteer Judith Reid highlights that the team plans the menu and food shops together, and has fun chit-chatting in the kitchen while setting up.
Lobb said, “I enjoy the sense of comradery we get as a group. To be able to put this on, and the teamwork that involves, we’ve got an amazing set of volunteers, that do a fantastic job, and I also enjoy the response I get from the ski workers as well, it’s really good to see the impact it has on them.”
Snow Farm NZ guest services assistant Catherine Geoffroy said, “It feels like a family dinner and is a great way to meet other ski field workers. You can feel the love. Good food, good people.”
Treblecone staff member Phil Johnston said, “This is my first time here and I wasn’t sure if this was going to be like a sausage sizzle, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but this is awesome.”
Snow Farm NZ ski instructor Yohan Giguere said, “I’m bottling up all my emotions for the last one. That’s why I’m eating so much.”
Cardrona staff member Eli Greville attended the event last year and has been to every single Free Ski Staff Dinner at the church this season.
Free tickets are distributed through the Cardrona, Snow Farm NZ and Treble Cone offices.