Anyone who has frequented our sister pubs is likely to be familiar with our very own Head Chef, Jay Williams. Having started his career at the age of 17 as a commis chef, Jay has become a consistent and familiar face to our loyal customers; he’s been Head Chef at The Wheatsheaf, Farnham as well as at The Duke of Cambridge, Tilford, where he launched the Garden Bar & Grill. Some of you may not know, but Jay met his beautiful wife here at The Stag!
Passionate and driven to excel in his field, Jay has worked hard, working his way up to our Group Head Chef role and so is currently roaming around our family of pubs, and working here with us at The Stag for six months. We are very excited to have Jay return and he’s been cooking up a plethora of delicious and mouth-watering dishes here in our kitchen, which we hope you have been enjoying.
Despite the commotion caused by the recent visit by the Beast from the East and the feeling of being in the darkest depths of winter, spring really is just around the corner and our new Spring Menu is about to be launched.
We snuck into The Stag kitchen for a quick catch up with Jay
We thought you might like to learn a little bit more about our Guest Chef and so we grabbed a (rare) quiet five minutes with Jay to ask him a few questions…
Tell us a bit about your Red Mist Leisure history?
I joined the company in March 2012, starting as Sous Chef at The Duke and by Spring 2013 I was promoted to Head Chef and then spent the hot summer of 2013 covering different sites (The Exchequer, Stag on the River, The Queen’s Head), whilst waiting for The Wheatsheaf to open. I opened the pub in the Head Chef role in November 2013. I spent 2 years at The Wheatsheaf perfecting both the menus (every pub has its main audience who’s palate often differs to another pub) and the kitchen team. I was then asked to oversee the relaunch of The Duke in 2015, which I thoroughly enjoyed and where two years whizzed by. Earlier this year I accepted the role of Group Head Chef at our newest pub, which is currently under development and due to open in Winter 2018, so until this opens, I am thrilled to return back to The Stag to assist and manage the kitchen for the summer season.
Who is your biggest influence and why? (it doesn’t have to be a chef, it could be a celebrity, a family member, a friend?)
Tom Kerridge has been a big influence on me, he managed to take classic pub food to a whole new level, which is a real inspiration. I was lucky enough to go to The Hand & Flowers with my wife for lunch recently and was blown away by the whole experience, his food is truly amazing.
Can you offer any advice/ top tips to upcoming training chefs and apprentices?
Take every opportunity to learn that comes your way. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. Cooking is basically a simple set of rules. The difficulty lies in knowing when to apply each rule. Put in the effort and you will eventually be rewarded. You will have to sacrifice a lot for the industry, so passion is absolutely essential! Don’t take drugs.
Favourite tool in your kitchen?
Hands down, my team of chefs and porters! They do all the hard work.
What is your go-to ‘guilty pleasure’ food?
A good quality kebab from my local.
When you’re not working your magic in the kitchen, what is your favourite thing to do?
Outside of the kitchen, I love spending time with my wife and children and being out in the garden (when the weather permits of course!), enjoying a really good quality IPA.
What exciting things will we see during your guest-spot at The Stag and what are you most looking forward to?
I’m hoping to be here for spring and summer and am thrilled to be working with such a talented and passionate team both in the kitchen and on the pub floor. I have some exciting dishes to showcase to my new ‘audience’, the customers here at The Stag are pretty unique and have the most incredible palate, which is an exciting opportunity for me to try some new things.
I am looking forward to the summer sunshine here at The Stag, that’s if it does plan on making an appearance! In the meantime however, the warmth of the crackling fire, the unique character of the pub and the lovely regulars makes coming to work, even when the Beast of the East makes an appearance, an absolute pleasure!
Our fresh, local and seasonal Spring Menu will be launching over this week… let’s hope the sunshine soon follows! Keep an eye on our website, which is frequently updated with latest offers, money-off vouchers and of course, exciting news and titbits within our blog. We’d love you to follow us on social media too.