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The Great Ryman Bake-Off Finalists

Written by Ryman Healthcare
on December 09, 2021

In November 2021 we challenged Ryman residents to create a Christmas-themed recipe to put forward for our Great Ryman Christmas Bake-Off.  Hear from our three finalists:

Margaret Clayton-Greene from Linda Jones Village
Shona Bull from Hilda Ross Village
Mary McKay from James Wattie Village

Margaret Clayton-Greene (Linda Jones Village) - Christmas Nativity Scene

Image 1200x800 (17)

Margaret said her heart pounded a little when she opened the Great Ryman Christmas Bake Off mystery box sent to her as one of three finalists in the bake off.
“I have never used filo in my life, and I didn’t know what Baklava was, so I felt very raw, very green going into this. But it wasn’t too bad!”

For Margaret’s initial entry she created a stable as part of a nativity scene. Her inspiration came from when she was a primary school teacher and making nativity scenes for the children.

“I had no lessons baking, but I enjoy cooking and baking and trying new recipes as you never know how they’ll turn out. The Baklava seemed to go pretty well… the diamonds took a bit of thinking about though.”

Margaret is looking forward to the winner being announced on a Zoom session with Allyson Gofton. “Indeed I am. I can’t believe it actually. I feel very honoured to be in the final,” she said.

Shona Bull (Hilda Ross Village) - Shortbread Christmas Tree


Shona gives credit to her daughter for encouraging her to enter the Great Ryman Christmas Bake Off “I wasn’t going to enter,” she said, “then I remembered a picture of a shortbread Christmas tree that I had seen and thought I could make that.”

Shona especially wanted to represent the village. She didn’t know what to do with the tree when it was completed and decided to raffle it for the village charity. The shortbread tree raised $115.00 for Prostate Cancer NZ. The winner then brought the tree to Happy Hour for everyone to taste which was a lovely outcome. Shona has always loved baking and has done a lot of baking with her daughter.

She loved the Ryman apron that was gifted to her in the mystery box.

“I have never made anything like that [Baklava] before. I went for my life making it and it was all about getting in the oven on time.

Afterwards Shona took her entry to the village centre to share with the other residents. I brought plates and chocolate sauce I had made, and shared it with the residents.

The village hairdresser was so impressed she asked Shona to make her one for Christmas day!

Shona likes making cakes more than anything and sharing them with others. “I was absolutely amazed to be in the final! I couldn’t believe it. There were some beautiful entries with a lot of thought put into them.”


Mary McKay (James Wattie) - Mystery TorteImage 1200x800 (14)

As a young woman, Mary had dreams of going to Cordon Bleu cooking school in London, but her father wanted her to be a nurse. Mary finally trained as a hairdresser but has always continued her love of cooking.

She ran a very successful B&B for tourists and was completely self-taught. She has a real love of cooking and catering and takes great pleasure in making delicious meals for family and friends.

Many of them have benefitted from her generosity and she admits she can make a meal out of anything she has in the kitchen. She’s always ready to whisk up a lunch or afternoon tea for unexpected visitors.

Mary grew up in Palmerson North and with three hungry men in the house she needed to know how to cook well. Whenever she went shopping the mantra was “mama’s gotta feed her boys!”

Mary who has only recently moved in to James Wattie village loves her new apartment’s state-of -the-art kitchen and the spacious bench and cabinetry.

She has a supply of secret recipes for baking things like shortbread and pavlova. “All my reading is recipe books. I’m the happiest when I am in the kitchen,” she laughs.

The Great Ryman Christmas Bake Off

In November 2021 we challenged Ryman residents to create a Christmas-themed recipe to put forward for our Great Ryman Christmas Bake-Off.

In true Ryman resident fashion, we were blown away with the entries. It was certainly a difficult decision to narrow the entries down to just three finalists, and we are delighted to announce them as Shona Bull's Shortbread Christmas Tree from Hilda Ross Village, Mary McKay's Mystery Torte from James Wattie Village and Margaret Clayton-Greene's Christmas Nativity Scene from Linda Jones Village.

Our lucky finalists have all stepped up to the next phase of the competition – the mystery box challenge. And despite the challenges of Covid restrictions, we’ve still found a way to keep the competition rolling. Our finalists had all ingredients delivered to their homes where they completed the mystery box challenge in their own kitchens.

Bake Off Mystery DishPictured from left: Margaret, Shona and Mary with their mystery box challenge results.

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