Head Chef, Shayne Wood talks about his food, his passion and his team

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Head Chef, Shayne Wood talks about his food, his passion and his team

Our Head Chef, Shayne Wood, joined The Chequers Inn in February 2016. Shayne’s passion is to cook excellent food, using quality seasonal ingredients, and using local producers whenever possible which shines through his creative menus. “I chose The Chequers Inn as a new challenge for myself, it was exciting to start something completely new and build a reputation working for a great company” says Shayne. Together with his team, Shayne continues to develop menus and food reputation at The Chequers.
We catch up with Shayne to discover more about his food, his passion and his team.

How do you decide what to put on the menu? Does local produce have a large impact on your menus?
The whole team brings ideas to the table when we are creating a new menu. We trial the suggestion, and may add a few tweaks if necessary. Once we are happy with a new dish we run it as a special to see how it is received by our customers. Using local and seasonal produce is very important to us and does have a large impact on our menus, we like to use as much local and seasonal produce as we can. We know that the items we choose to serve will be the best possible quality.

If you were to eat your favourite main from The Chequers Inn menu, what would it be?
Oh this is difficult! Everything I love to cook and eat is on our menu, we pride ourselves at The Chequers Inn for fresh, local produce. Our menu is constantly evolving to take into consideration what is in season and at its best. If I had to pick something, it would probably be something fish based, our fish is super fresh, excellent quality and delicious!

Dining at The Chequers Inn, Thornham
We pride ourselves at The Chequers Inn for fresh, local produce

Can you sum up your cooking style in three words?
Creative, fresh and local.

Do you have a signature dish?
My signature dish is pan-roasted local rump of lamb, crushed peas, lamb sweetbreads, pomme dauphine and mint pesto, which is currently on our a la carte menu. Sous Chef, Liam’s, signature dish is the mouth-watering spiced vegetable samosa, tarka dhal, mango chutney and frisee.

What are the key ingredients to building a successful kitchen team and making a great restaurant great?
Passion, drive and discipline. Any kitchen team needs to have a passion for what they’re making and serving, and need to have a drive and discipline to succeed. Excellent team work is the key to making a great restaurant great. Everyone in the kitchen is a vital member of the team whether they are a Kitchen Porter, Pastry Chef or Sous Chef -  their role is equally important.

What’s the best thing about working with your kitchen team?
We are a relatively small team here at The Chequers Inn. The best thing about working as a team is the team building that we have done to run a successful kitchen. We are constantly teaching each other new techniques and are able to help each other with morale. We are really well bonded, like a small family.

Head Chef, Shayne Wood, at The Chequers Inn
Head Chef, Shayne Wood

Why is teamwork so important in your kitchen?
Teamwork is so important in all kitchens; this means the kitchen and service can run smoothly and ensures we can create the best results, which for us is serving outstanding food to our customers.

Can you describe your day to day job as a team?
We prepare all the product that comes in fresh daily, we produce great food, make sure the kitchen is always kept clean and tidy, ensure service runs smoothly, and making sure we all enjoy the day.

If you had the opportunity to travel to cook in any country for a year, where would it be?
I have had the opportunity to work in Marbella, Spain, which has influenced our tapas dishes. I love Asian flavours, so I would probably have to say Thailand or Japan.

Tapas at The Chequers Inn, Thornham
Norfolk tapas

If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be and what would you cook?
I would bring all my family together for a traditional roast dinner. I love nothing more than having all my loved ones together for a real feast. It allows me to be completely relaxed and chill out.

What is your biggest goal as a chef?
My aim as a chef is to always cook great local and very tasty food that is well presented. I want people to love the food I cook and for the restaurant to be full every night.

Are there any life lessons you’ve learnt from your culinary experience so far?
I have learnt to give everything a chance! You don’t know what will become popular, so all dishes need a chance to be tried. I have also learnt that it is important to have a good work life balance – especially now I have my child.

Who was your main cooking influences when you were growing up?
I looked up to Michael Caines, Phil Howard and Gordon Ramsay.

Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs?
With the right attitude the world is your oyster; you can only get out what you put in. Being a chef is hard work but it is very awarding. If you always give what you do 100% you will succeed.