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CHEF JOS WELLMAN BIOGRAPHY

This is a very short biography and if you want more information you can visit the contributor's website where you will usually find contact details. If you wish us to pass a message on email us.

Self-portraitTraining and apprenticeship
It is so hard to condense so much hard work, so much travel, so many experiences and accolades into a short space. Let me therefore apologise in advance for not being able to mention everyone and everything.

Born and raised in Plymouth, off and on; my father was both Navy and later in the Police force. I started my initial training as a chef at Plymouth College of Further Education. Attending a two year full-time programme during 1975 - 1977. Under the watchful eyes of Chefs Wilma Hirsch, Wilfred Martin, Harry Cunningham and David Hopkins; the latter is still teaching there. During these two years I gained the London City & Guilds qualification 706/1 with credit and 706/2 with distinction. I credit all these chefs with my 'success' over the years, with particular mention to Chef Hirsch and Hopkins. Who influenced me greatly and taught me never to accept anything that was not my best, always research things and not to just accept just one view point. So it was here that I was to learn my love, my passion for food and the culinary arts.

On completion of these two years and under the direction of Chef Hirsch, I headed to Germany to 'complete' my apprenticeship. My first position there was as Commis de Gardemanger at the Steigenberger KurHotel in Bad Neunahr; under Chef Otto. I was purposely sent here as very few people spoke English, which ensured I became fluent in German very quickly. Which made for a very eye opening, hard working and enjoyable year; both personally and professionally. It also gave me my first taste of cooking for 'the rich and famous', as half way through the year along with the Sous Chef and a Chef de Partie we were whisked up to the German capital of Koln (Cologne) to help prepare meals for a political conference, where amongst other dignitaries we cooked for Mr Brehznev, the then powerful USSR leader. This was to prove to be just one of the many 'celebrities' I was to cook for or get to know over the years.

After my one year contract was up, I transferred to Frankfurt and worked at the prestigious Hotel Frankfurter Hof under Chef Stumpf. The Hotel was a large, very busy establishment that mainly catered for business people or the rich and famous. Being here for a year, taught me so much about cooking for large amounts and high quality, fine dining. It was a long hard year but so rewarding; working shifts of up to 12 hours straight and in some cases when we changed shifts only having 6 hours to get home, relax, sleep and get back to work. But it did reinforce may techniques I was learning and how simple, high quality foods can be: freshly cured meats, good bacon and sausages, fresh eggs, the abundance of different European breads . . . mmmm I can still taste those delicious German breads, quark, home made jams all with freshly made (not packet) hot chocolate and great filter coffee.

Being in such a prestigious establishment, taught me so very much about the importance of the quality of food; as we were working for the most part with the best of everything. We had specialised weeks; French, Icelandic are two I remember: when chefs from the respective countries were flown in to supervise the preparation and cooking of the menu specialties. For the French menu I recall fresh truffles (white and black Perigord) being flown in, along with mushrooms of all shapes and sizes; ceps, morelles and chanterelles and the piece de resistance; fresh goose liver . . . fresh goose liver that after worming my way in with one of the French chefs, I was taught and allowed to peel and prepare, not to mention lightly sauté and eventually taste!

Travelling and the famous
From here I moved on to explore Europe; its foods, its wines, its vineyards and everything culinary. But I had a hankering to travel further, to not only study food and culinary techniques but to go beyond the realms of Europe and study life and people also. The Caribbean was beckoning . . . So with a four year apprenticeship under my belt, it was time to travel the world.

The next twenty years were to see me travel and work in many exclusive establishments, do some cooking for TV and movie sets and work with many great, well respected chefs from whom I was always eager to pick brains. Not that many, if any of them would be known outside the industry as the days of the publicly known 'celebrity' chef was yet to come. On that subject though I have been chef for or cooked for many of the 'A' list of celebrities from the world of show-business, movies, music etc, from Sammy Davis Jnr and Frank Sinatra to Bon Jovi and Janet Jackson, from all of the James Bond actors to Lawrence Olivier. I have also cooked for virtually every member of the Royal family many, many times.

I was chef in charge for Princess Diane's visit to New Zealand in 1983, one of the highlights of my life so far; she was such a great lady. Even eclipsing the full Royal State visit of NZ in 1990, which I might add my mother got all the recognition for as she was (un)fortunate to be stood next to the woman that threw a wet shirt at the Queen. So I did all the work and my mother through a quirk of fate ends up with her face all over the international press . . . ahhhh such is the life of the lowly chef!

Many, many miles traveled, many countries explored, many foods from many cultures sampled before finally settling in New Zealand; my adopted country and I am still only forty! I still travel extensively, vacationing for six weeks each year out of the country plus trips abroad to conduct food festivals, cooking demonstrations or promoting New Zealand produce.

Where I am now
On holiday!My main stay these days though is teaching. I am now a tutor at a Polytechnic here in New Zealand, the country that the indigenous people call 'Aotearoa' (the land of the long white cloud).

Every year I now have 11 trainee chefs come to me for training in the culinary arts. They are with me for a full year, where I can not only hopefully impart to them some of the techniques and recipes that were taught to me but encourage them to find their own way, their own style. To not just respect the traditions of the kitchen, its long rich long history but also to find new pathways, to introduce themselves to new foods and flavour combinations. To understand and appreciate the flavours of simple, basic foods before they start to marry them to something else. To hold that summer ripened peach, to caress it, to suck in those wonderfully sweet aromas, to appreciate all its aspects before savouring its sweetness, its sun produced natural sugars and taste sensation.

This lifestyle of teaching affords me the ability to travel still, to indulge in my passion of food, of cooking and the culinary arts. It has also now given me the time to take on new ventures like this cooking column, others in international newspapers, to manage an extensive culinary website: www.tallyrand.info

One of the many rewards of all this has also brought me is a nice house, with a veranda, expansive sea views, where I can entertain and enjoy with friends long summer dinner parties, brunches or a chilled glass of Chardonnay or a cold beer with some bread and wonderful New Zealand cheeses. It is also a great place to come home to and just sit, relax and drink in the views after a long day and from where I am typing this. I do love life, what would I do if I was 20 again? Be 40! I love this time of life . . . . . . . . .

To visit Jos's website - click here

Hub-UK comment:

It has been a great honour for me to be able to work with Jos developing Hub-UK since we joined forces in August 2000. The site owes a great deal to Jos's regular recipes and tips, as well as the help and input he gives me behind the scenes, but many of you will not realise how much effort he puts in to helping people find special recipes - like Ooey Gooey Butter Cake - for me he is one of the great chef's and, although we are yet to meet face to face, a good friend.

This biography is only an abbreviated one and if you want to get a true feel for the man visit his own website - click here.