Passionate foodies Virosha Chheang and Chenda Tan.
Not everyone can say they enjoy going to work as much as Virosha Chheang.
The new co-owner and co-manager of the popular Christchurch Park Ranger cafe has a taste for hospitality and thanks her Cambodian parents for instilling her strong work ethic.
” I like to work. I came to New Zealand when I was 11 and have always helped my parents in their little bakery in Motueka, ”says Chheang.
“I’ve seen all of their hard work so that’s what really motivates me. “
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Chheang and his partner, Chenda Tan, have only been running the Riccarton restaurant for two months.
The couple first met through ‘friends of friends’ during a Christmas vacation in Auckland in 2017, and soon after, hatched a plan to combine their skills and start their own cafe.
“It has always been the dream for both of us. It didn’t take long for us to find out that we share the same goals, ”she says.
Having started very early in the family business, Virosha held various positions in the restaurant and hospitality industry, while Chenda takes care of the housework of Park Ranger, with her previous experience in food manufacturing.
“My personality is quite bubbly and I love talking to people so I love working in the hospitality business because you meet so many different people and learn so much,” she says.
“Every day is never the same and I love this dynamic.”
The couple are working to improve the Park Ranger’s seasonal menu to further appeal to health-conscious diners, while maintaining the familiar favorites of loyal cafe patrons.
“We’ve introduced a few other things because we’ve seen that a lot of people are looking for more vegan options, as well as sugar-free and gluten-free.
“Park Ranger is well known for our Acai Smoothie Bowl, with mixed berries, other seasonal fresh fruits and our homemade granola. It changes almost every day and you probably won’t get the same bowl twice.
The couple gradually introduced new dishes and, with input from a vegan staff member, refined the ideas and concepts of dishes.
Park Ranger also launched Taco Tuesday and imagined tasty alternatives to the standard pork or pulled beef options.
“We used green jackfruit where you can marinate it and cook it, and then the jackfruit crumbles and has a texture similar to pulled pork. We will also be making fried cauliflower.