At The Table… with Jake Ledger, Chef Manager

Dec 9, 2022

Each month we bring a different team member to the table to chat about their role, food and all things Wilson Vale. This month we spoke to Jake, one of our Chef Managers, who let us in on what Sheffield’s take on Worcestershire Sauce is! As a father, Jake also chatted to us about the priceless benefits of creatively themed food events in schools.

What does your job involve?

I oversee the catering department at an independent school near Wakefield. We cater for staff and 600 pupils from nursery, right through to Sixth Form. In the morning I take care of the hot mains and vegetarian courses along with staff training and development on our dessert section, grab and go and salad table. I plan our menus around the seasons and nutrition and ensure all our allergy information is in place. In the afternoon, you’ll find me in the dining hall serving the hot mains to our pupils.

Our catering department also runs a number of hospitality events throughout the day, evening and weekends. This can be anything from working lunches, canopy events, large scale sit-down dinners and sports tournaments.

What do you love about your job?

There are many aspects of the job I enjoy. Seeing the staff develop their skills is something the whole team can be proud of. Another highlight is our ‘Taste Buddies’ event which gives our younger students the opportunity to try dishes from around the world, collecting a stamp in their passport for each country along the way. As a father of two young children myself I believe this is a priceless experience.

What does working at Wilson Vale mean to you?

I have been fortunate during my time at Wilson Vale to be on the Support Team for a number of years. This has helped me see different sites and meet some very talented chefs along the way whilst picking their brains on their past experiences and wealth of culinary knowledge.

The feeling of togetherness and commitment to the end product is a huge part of Wilson Vale and it is certainly something to be proud of.

What’s your favourite food?

I really enjoy seafood, it’s something I don’t have that often so it’s definitely a treat!

What ingredient can you not live without?

I can’t live without is Hendersons Relish. For those that don’t know it’s Sheffield’s version of Worcestershire Sauce. ‘Hendo’s’ however is vegan and allergen free and gives dishes a subtle acidity and richness making it a very versatile ingredient. It certainly sits pride of place in any Yorkshire larder!

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know…

I was accepted on to the BBC2 chef program ‘The Brigade’. I couldn’t take up my place in the end, but I was really pleased to get accepted and hopefully the opportunity will come around again!

Tell us a top tip, trick of the trade?

I am a big believer in building layers of flavour in dishes. Seasoning throughout the stages of cooking, giving spices plenty of time to cook out and reducing liquids like stocks to intensify. However, sometimes simplicity is key – if you have great produce, let it speak for itself.

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