Exclusive Academy Chefs Visit Wellocks

Wellocks was proud to host a group of young chefs from the Exclusive Chefs Academy, run by Exclusive Hotels and Venues, and take them to meet some of our top producers.

The two-day trip organised in conjunction with Andy Mackenzie, Executive Chef at the Exclusive Chefs Academy, forms part of the group’s chefs training, teaching them about the supply chain and importance of production and provenance when it comes to sourcing ‘the perfect ingredient’ for their dishes.

Eight commis chefs from the academy took part in the field trip. They included Amelia, Nick and Meghan from Pennyhill Park & Spa in Bagshot, Surrey along with Tom and Ayesha from South Lodge Hotel, Lower Beeding in Sussex, Greg based at Lainston House Hotel in Winchester, Hampshire, Thomas from Fanhams Hall, Ware in Hertfordshire and David from Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe, Wiltshire.

Andy Mackenzie said: “As part of the two-year Exclusive Chefs Academy programme, the chefs get to spend a couple of days at Wellocks with our good friend Jonny Baron and the team. Every year the amazing masterclass by Vicky Henderson blows the minds of all the Academy chefs. The Wellocks warehouse gives a real understanding of how much goes into getting great quality products into all the kitchens of Exclusive Hotels and Venues. The Academy chefs come away from Wellocks as proud ambassadors.”

The field trips took the chefs from Yorkshire to Lancashire, starting with a drive over to sunny Pudsey to visit Robert Tomlinson to see Tomlinson’s famous Yorkshire forced rhubarb. Robert’s farm with its rich, damp soil produces great kale, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi throughout the year but the highlight of the calendar is forced rhubarb – grown in sheds and picked by candlelight and available from January to April. [link]

Commis Chef Ayesha from South Lodge Hotel said: “It was amazing to see the dark nursery sheds where the magic happens to produce the very tasty forced rhubarb.” “It was good to see for ourselves how much care and passion goes into every product stocked at Wellocks. I promise never to take that for granted,” added Commis Chef Greg from Lainston House Hotel.

The group also visited the Tool Shed in Caton, Lancashire, home and demo kitchen of Sous Vide Tools, where they received a master class on water baths, thermal circulators and vac bags, cooking temperatures, seasonings and marinades. The White Swan at Fence hosted a delicious dinner, cooked by Chef Tom Parker.

Day two was spent at Wellocks HQ where Vicky Henderson from MSK demonstrated the use of liquid nitrogen, calcium, alginate spherification and agar gels. Following this, the team headed out to the warehouse for a tour of the dry stores, fresh fridges, dairy and prep rooms. The tour rounded off in the pasta room, where the team was able to see the pasteuriser, dehydrating room and the packing process.

Commis Chef David, based at Manor House Hotel, said: “For me it was interesting to see how much Wellocks cared for each of their suppliers. They wanted to know about the entire product from start to finish, and all the steps along the way. As a chef it is great to have that knowledge.”

Commis Chef Tom from the South Lodge Hotel, said: “The system and organisation of the service they run at Wellocks is very impressive. I could tell there were great chefs involved in the process. If they were measured by the Michelin guide, Wellocks would have at least 2 stars.”