Words of Advice from – Michael Wignall

Following on from yesterdays post from Nathan Outlaw, today we bring you ‘5 Questions’ from Michael Wignall, Head Chef at Latymers Restaurant, Pennyhill Park.

In 2007 Micheal joined Pennyhill Park from 5 years at The Devonshire Arms in Yorkshire where he again he achieved 4 rosettes and a Michelin star.

We would like to thank Michael for his time for doing the ‘5 Questions’

1.  What would be your best piece of advice for a fresh face school leaver who is obsessed with ‘Food Porn’ looking to get into the industry?

The first piece of advice would be make sure that you know what your getting yourself into ie no more parties at the weekend, say good bye to your friends with so called normal jobs and get your head around working all day. But on the brighter side you will be going into a trade that hopefully you will never get bored of and continue developing for the rest of your career. Then if you want to get into it my advice is write and phone places of high quality until you get a response, offer yourself for a stage, and show your interest in the place and give a brief explanation of your goals and why you want to work for them. People are always looking for dedicated employees. And that’s the bottom line dedicated.

2.  What qualities are you looking for in your more junior chefs when recruiting new staff?

Ambition, dedication, self-respect  hard working and honesty

3.  Would you recommend that staff do stages & how do people get to do a stage with you?

Yes I would recommend doing stages, I still do them now, it’s the best way to learn about the place and the food/service they do, and how people work differently from each other. My advice is just write to places you would like to go to, you may be lucky.

4.  In light of the recent death of a young chef through excessive hours (on average 100+ per week, for multiple weeks – See our post), does the industry need to change & what changes have you made to reflect this in your own kitchens?

This is and always has been the industries big problem, but I think its starting to get better. We are lucky in the respect that we are closed two days a week so the staff are always guaranteed there days off, in a lot of places this is not the case. The obvious answer is as always more staff and better time management but more staff is more money and sometimes the money is not there. It’s also sometimes hard to convince people how much work goes into producing high quality food and service. Nobody should be subjected to working 100+ hour for multiple weeks. The industry does need to change and fast and we all have to take the hit at the cost before it takes more people in one way or another, Drink drugs.

5.  Do you think that the media (in particular television) have raised the profile of the industry in a positive way?

The profile of the industry has been raised in a positive way but also slightly plastic and unreal. People see the industry as a bit glam and fun, which it can be but the darker side is still hidden some what.  More real life TV with real kitchens and  real chefs,.  Dont get me wrong there are plenty of good chefs on TV but there is also plenty of (celebrity I’ve not worked in a kitchen for years) chefs also.

For career opportunities with Michael Wignall, contact him here;

Pennyhill Park, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey GU19 5EU – HR Manager – Eve Kelleher



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Many thanks to Michael for doing the ’5 Questions’ for the Chef Hermes Blog, it is much appreciated and hopefully an insight for our more junior readers.

Next for the 5 Questions, is Alan Murchison of 10 in 8 restaurants which include L’Ortolan & La Becasse.

Leave a Reply