Phil Bennett began his foray into the food industry as a baker, but after falling in love with Italian food it was a different kind of dough that saw Phil and his wife Linda take a leap into the unknown with Pasta Vera.
Nearly a quarter of a century on and Pasta Vera is based in a purpose-built factory in Christchurch, employing nearly 40 people. While the dough is no longer hand folded like it was when Phil first began, a lot does remain the same, including the ethos that quality ingredients and a quality team make a quality product.
“We make everything from scratch, from roasting the vegetables to making the béchamel for a lasagne,” says Phil, who reiterates, “Quality ingredients are key.”
Pasta Vera also continues to invest heavily in equipment from Italy, enabling them to efficiently finesse their ranges and create tastier, artisan-style products that keep their retail and wholesale customers coming back time and time again.
Pasta Vera has always focused on seeing gaps and adapting to the market. An example of this was when Phil couldn’t source a delicious pesto in New Zealand, so he set out with a stick blender to develop his own. What began as a trial is now a core product for Pasta Vera, with the team now making 100,000kgs a year!
Like many others, during his time in the food industry Phil has seen a shift. With recruitment continuing to get harder, it’s been more difficult to find trained chefs who can meet the need to create restaurant quality products the market demands. Therefore, Phil and Linda have ensured that they have always focused on recruiting and nurturing an excellent team of dedicated individuals, alongside continuing to invest in quality manufacturing equipment, allowing for a balance of skills and efficiencies.
Their approach has created opportunities for Pasta Vera to stand out and produce quality products in a challenging recruitment market. As staffing challenges continue across the country in multiple industries, Phil says it is more important than ever their “quality is continued and maintained”.
The business model has to date focused on quality ranges for foodservice, and the relationship fostered with Bidfood has been a key one from the beginning. With nationwide reach, this relationship over time has enabled the Pasta Vera brand to be widely recognised and used across New Zealand.
Phil’s drive and philosophy to adapt and grow with the Pasta Vera team has seen Pasta Vera successfully extend their lines over 22 years to include a variety of lasagne ranges, ribbon pasta, filled pasta, pesto, hummus, and sauces – and even popular gluten free and vegan ranges.
As with all their products, what goes into the pasta (or pesto) is incredibly important. This means they developed and now make the cashew ricotta in house to be used as a vegan ravioli filling, which has been a hit for chefs wanting to create memorable meals that cater to the growing vegan market.
Pasta Vera’s fresh ribbon pasta products are heat treated and then uniquely packaged to give an extended shelf life of three months. Add to this the frozen ranges, and they offer many different kitchens an economical and low waste solution for their menus.
Be it a traditional Italian pasta dish, a tasty vegan menu option, a hearty lasagne for the café cabinet or a way to feed a hungry crowd – Pasta Vera have you covered.