Culinary icon Ruth Pretty moves on

Ruth Pretty in her kitchen shop at Te Horo, which along with the cafe and catering business closes this week.
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After 36 years running an internationally renowned Te Horo business, Ruth Pretty has called time.

Ruth and her Ōtaki-born husband, Paul Pretty, are retiring, and selling the land and buildings on School Road that includes Ruth Pretty Catering, a cafe/foodie shop and a cookery school.

The business will close as of May 19. However, Ruth and Paul are staying in their 106-year-old house adjoining the property that’s being sold.

At the age of 71 and clearly with plenty of energy still, Ruth has no regrets about retiring.

“I’ve loved what I’ve done, I’ve got to travel and I’ve worked with and met some amazing people. It has been an incredible time, but now it’s time to move on.”

Ruth started the business in 1988 after moving from Wellington, where she began her culinary career with business partner David Jordan at the hugely successful Marbles Restaurant in Kelburn.

The experience with Marbles was a stepping stone to what was to be celebrity chef status, successful cookery books and the cooking school that drew budding chefs from throughout the country.

Ruth became an ambassador overseas for New Zealand cuisine, commissioned by organisations such as the Food and Beverage Exporters Council, Rugby World Cup and Team New Zealand (yachting). She also catered for the Lord of the Rings launch in Wellington and has catered for many years for the World of Wearable Art and Wairarapa’s Toast Martinborough.

Having sold the Kelburn restaurant and moved to Te Horo, there was initially no plan to run another food business. However former clients from Wellington began asking Ruth to cater for dinner parties.

“We have quite a big dining room in the old house, so we thought we could run some functions there,” Ruth says. “But when we got really busy we had to have more space, so we bought the adjoining property and expanded as the business grew.”

Although the property had a few large sheds, there was no capacity for the kind of business Ruth and Paul were starting to grow.

They added a large commercial kitchen, space for a cooking school, a cafe and retail store, storage and office space. The total property is about 8ha, where gardens and orchards have been established to supply the business with fresh produce.

Ruth says its future use could be as a large commercial baking operation, “but it could be anything”.

By Ian Carson of Ōtaki Today

https://otakitoday.com/