Introducing Head Chef Jay Williams
Jay Williams, 31 from Guildford has spent his whole career in the kitchen and has worked the last 10 years enjoying being part of a number of great kitchen teams. After working in several chain kitchens in Portsmouth, where he studied vocationally for his NVQ Level 3, whilst working in the Gunwharf Quays development, he got a job at a well respected independent restaurant in Droxford, Hampshire called The Hurdles. This is where he gained a solid foundation in seasonal British restaurant food.
He was quickly promoted to Sous chef and stayed with the company for about 3 years. Jay then worked briefly for a restaurant group in Guildford, before taking a job in a country pub in Chichester, in pursuit of a kitchen that he could develop his own style of food. After two years there, he moved to Red Mist Leisure, joining in the spring of 2012 as Sous chef at The Duke Of Cambridge, to aid the head chef in the continued improvement of the food offering from their two kitchens and from here he was promoted to the Head Chef of the Wheatsheaf before returning to The Duke in the Spring of 2016 to Head up the new kitchen following the £500k refurbishment of the pub.
Jay’s cooking style
Jay doesn’t have one favourite dish to prepare, he gets satisfaction from taking good quality seasonal ingredients and trying to maximise the flavour he can get from them. This could mean quickly braising asparagus instead of blanching it, or using pan juices to beef up a garnish or a sauce. He is very particular about cooking meats, and likes to spend time teaching younger chefs the importance of key processes such as ‘resting’, which allow the flavours to come through and for the meat to be at its most tender. Nothing gives him greater pleasure than slicing a piece of perfectly rested pink duck, especially if one of the boys cooked it.
Jay’s favourite celebrity chefs
Tom Kitchin – for his respect for ingredients and maximising flavour
Tom Kerridge – for taking pub food to the next level
Gary Rhodes – for classic British cookery
Jays Signature Dish
Belly of pork with celeriac purée and sautéed garlic greens and bacon is probably his favourite dish. “The four main flavours marry together really well”, he comments.
When writing the Wheatsheaf menu Jay focused on seasonal British pub food. “We want the menu to be built around classic British dishes and ingredients, and to reflect the building’s history as a ‘proper pub’. When coming up with a dish, I choose one or two seasonal flavours that marry well with the main ingredient. It is also essential to ensure that there is a balance of texture on the plate and to try to make the dish interesting whilst avoiding the danger of being gimmicky. I’ll often look for inspiration in other cookbooks, or think back to dishes I’ve enjoyed myself, taking different elements that I know will work well together”.