A brand new ten-station kitchen has been set up behind the Visitors Centre at the Wadworth Brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire. Chefs and other employees working in any of Wadworth’s 248 pubs (44 managed and 204 tenanted) will be invited in groups to attend training sessions and cooking seminars.
Wadworth catering development manager Scott Ferguson designed the cookery school and will be in charge of its day-to-day running. “Our aim is to help build confidence in our chefs,” he explained. “Many pub chefs are quite isolated in their work and we believe that it will be of great benefit to them to have the opportunity to come together and discuss the issues they all face in the workplace.”
Ferguson also plans to open the school to the general public, offering corporate business events and sessions for local people.
“Cooking is a great way to bring people together,” Ferguson continued. “My colleague John Furby or I will lead the groups, demonstrating how to cook a delicious dish or two, and then the team will cook their own versions and enjoy eating them together, washing them down with a pint or two of real ale.”
Raising the standards
Paul Sullivan, marketing and sales director at Wadworth, told BigHospitality that there were a number of pubs within the estate that could “do better” in terms of the standard of food. “Food is becoming more and more important to the success of the pub,” he said. “A holistic approach is required - good customer service, great atmosphere, quality drinks and fantastic food.
The investment behind setting up Wadworth Brewery Cookery School has been in excess of £100k. But Sullivan believes it will pay off in terms of the overall quality of pubs.
“Mediocre is not good enough,” he added. “Our goal is to raise the standard of as many of our pubs as possible in the food arena. A number of our pubs are already excellent, but there are a number who could also do better and give themselves a better return and reputation.
“We are focusing on our managed and tenanted houses rather than specifically training chefs. The idea is to increase the knowledge of food and cooking across the estate at a number of levels so that there are not just chefs, but cover for these chefs as well.”