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Happy to help! #charity

Our clients and friends have been doing some pretty amazing things for charity this year – and we’re happy to show our support. Here are just a few causes we’ve backed:


We sponsored Jan Bentley from WS Bentley, who ran the London Marathon in support of the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). Jan’s son was one of 4 babies born every day in the UK with deafness. He is now seven and a hearing aid user doing well and engaging in sport and everyday activities at a normal school. Jan says that the NDCS gave her and her family help and support when she needed it most.  Jan has raised almost £6,000 in donations.

We donated to the Samworth Brothers Charity Challenge – a 1-day orienteering triathlon in aid of Ryedale Special Families. This is a charity which supports 400 families in the Ryedale area who have children and young adults with disabilities, illnesses and special needs.


We love animals here at Verner Wheelock and we’ve recently donated funds to help with the running of the Wonkey Donkey Visitors’ Centre in Knottingley – a haven for abused and abandoned donkeys. The owners of the sanctuary were injured in the recent Manchester Arena bombing and are currently in hospital. The money donated will help to keep the sanctuary running in their absence.



We cannot imagine how difficult it must be to have a child with a life-threatening illness like cancer. That’s why we’ve made a donation to The Tortoise and the Hare Challenge. Rachel C’s old boss, Mike, has a son who was diagnosed with bone cancer just over a year ago. He, along with his friend Simon, who does our design work, are undertaking the challenge this month in aid of Candlelighters, the children’s cancer charity. Simon (AKA the Hare) is cycling the 150 miles of the Coast-to-Coast route non-stop from Seascale on the West Coast to Whitby in the East in a single day. Mike (AKA the Tortoise) is undertaking the route on foot – but to make it a fair race, he will have a 6-day head-start. May the best man win – and we hope they raise plenty of money for this very worthy cause.

We’re also regular supporters of Shine, a charity which provides support for people with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus. Shine also supports parents, families , carers and professional care staff to enable sufferers to get the best out of life.


As many of you will know, we run a course called Managing Food Allergens. When we heard that the Anaphylaxis Campaign were holding an orange wig day in aid of those affected by and at risk of anaphylaxis and severe allergy, we felt we had to join in the fun. We didn’t have time to buy any wigs, so we improvised instead (see pic) and made a donation.


Finally – As you might imagine, we get through quite a lot of paper preparing materials for our training courses. So, to try to put something back, we have dedicated a tree with The Woodland Trust.


Verner Wheelock May Update #training

Wow, this year is whizzing by! No doubt some of you will already be making products for the Christmas  market . After all, it’s only about 200 days away… Anyway, less of that! I haven’t been on my summer holidays yet. Here’s a round-up of what’s been happening at Verner Wheelock over the past month.



The Annual Trainers’ Meeting

I could be forgiven for thinking I’d walked onto the set of the Great British Bake Off a couple of weeks ago. True , there was  no sign of Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood or Mel & Sue; but  there  was certainly an abundance of cake. Around 7 different varieties of it in fact.

Our lovely trainers Colleen and Jo obviously felt we needed feeding up and had had been busy in their respective kitchens . They didn’t just come to deliver cake though – it was our annual Trainers’ Meeting, where we discuss new course  ideas, any improvements/updates to existing courses and so forth.

We have  17 trainers who work for Verner Wheelock, so it’s good to get as many as possible together at least once a year. There was plenty of information to exchange and ,of course, plenty to eat…




Brexit talk

We invited prolific EU blogger and Brexit expert Richard North to speak at the trainers’ meeting. Richard’s particular interest is in how Brexit will affect the food industry. He made some very interesting points highlighting the fact that Britain will be treated as a ‘Third Country’ when we exit the EU. This means that there will be no more free trade.

Richard North EU Brexit

EU Blogger and Brexit expert, Richard North.

If we wish to continue to trade with EU countries we will need to negotiate separate trade agreements and be subject to border control checks of products and documentation. This could cause severe delays. At present 12,000 trucks pass through Dover and the Channel Tunnel per day. If this were suddenly halted there would be a queue stretching back as far as Aberdeen.

According to Richard, the cost of a detained container could be anything from £800 to £2000 once demurrage, inspection fees, labour fees, re-packing fees are taken into consideration. It could mean that some companies are put out of business.

If you want to find out more about Richard’s (sometimes controversial) views, take a look at his daily blog at www.eureferendum.com

Specialist courses for butchers

It being Spring Bank Holiday we only ran courses here in Skipton during two weeks in May, but we still kept our trainers busy with 13 in-house courses. Several of these took place north of the border in Scotland  – including our Meat Managers’ Hygiene & HACCP course. We run this course 2-3 times a year on behalf of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association (SFMTA). It is tutored by Paul Bache, who has an MBE for his services to the meat industry.

Another great result for Lead Auditors

We’re delighted to report that, once again, we have had a 100% pass rate for our FDQ Lead Auditor course. The course took place from 8-11 May under the tutelage of Eleanor Nicholls. Not only that, but there were 2 distinctions too. Huge congratulations to Brandon Green from Ornua Nutrition Ingredients and Craig Darby from Samworth Brothers, who both achieved over 90% in their examinations.

Our FDQ Lead Auditor course is proving so popular that we are now running two courses in October. They’re filling up fast, so if you’d like to attend, please give Claire a call on 01756 700802.

Verner Wheelock now a member of APSCA

Did you know that as well as providing top-quality training to the food industry, Verner Wheelock also undertakes ethical trading audits?

We work, in conjunction with a business called KSSA, auditing suppliers to many of the major retailers. The audit checks that workers’ human and labour rights are not compromised – for example, ensuring that their working environment and pay is acceptable according to the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code.

Verner Wheelock is one of a handful of third-party audit companies that conducts these ethical assessments in the UK. We have just been accepted as a member of the Association of Professional Social Compliance Auditors (APSCA). APSCA aspires to enhance the credibility, quality, consistency and professionalism of social compliance audits which will contribute to the improvement of workplace conditions.

To find out more about ethical audits, please visit www.vwa.co.uk/ethical

Bowling, bowling, bowling….

At the end of April Team VWA descended on the 10 pin bowling hall in Skipton for a work social evening. There were a few strikes and more than a few spares – and we all had great fun. The ultimate champion was Amberley, who beat nearest rivals Mitch and Rachel C by 20 clear points. Then it was off into town to Calico Jack’s for drinks and a huge meal, which made some of us feel as heavy as a bowling ball…




Forthcoming courses

We still have a few places left on the following June courses:

Supplier Auditing – 14th June

HACCP Refresher – 15th June

Level 4 Food Safety Update – 16th June

VACCP & TACCP Workshop – 22nd June

Training the Trainer – 28& 29th June, 5&6 July

Check availability by calling Claire on 01756 700802.


To celebrate British Sandwich week, we‘ve gathered together some interesting facts about a type of food that is as British as fish and chips, or roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding:

Why is it called a ‘sandwich’?

Most people know this one! Food which is enclosed by two slices of bread is named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. He was an 18th Century English aristocrat, who enjoyed gambling.

The story goes that, during an all-night card session, he ordered his valet to bring him meat from his dinner tucked between two slice s of bread. This meant that he could eat without interrupting the game; he didn’t need to use a fork; and his hands didn’t get greasy. Others around him said they would like ‘as Sandwich’ – hence the term became popular.



Britain’s favourite fillings

For any type of sandwich, pre-packaged or otherwise, Britain’s most popular is the good old bacon butty. This is followed by prawn mayonnaise and the BLT – bacon, lettuce and tomato. The most popular bread is granary.

When it comes to the pre-packaged version – according to the British Sandwich Association – the most popular fillings are as follows:

The sandwich Oscars

Did you know that around 11.5 billion sandwiches are consumed in the UK every year? Or that the average sandwich contains approximately 400 calories? (That’s the equivalent number of calories burned on a 4 mile run…).

There are over 300,000 people employed in the sandwich industry in the UK. They even have their own annual awards event – the ‘Sammies’.

Categories include Sandwich Designer of the Year. This was won last year by Kim Hartley of the 2 Sisters Food Group for her trio of Mini Bombay Bundt Bagels.

Viva Las Bagels!

The King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, was so fond of a particular sandwich that he flew to Denver and back in one night, just to collect one. The snack in question was called a ‘Fool’s Gold’ and consisted of a hollowed-out loaf filled with nearly half a kilo of bacon, an entire jar of peanut butter and a full jar of jam! A whopping 8,000 calories in total! (80 mile run anyone?)

 The world’s biggest butty

This accolade was scooped by Wild Woody’s Chill and Grill in Michigan, USA in 2005. It contained 1,618.4 kg of bread, 468 kg of corned beef, 68 kg of mustard, 117.9kg of cheese and 240.4 kg of lettuce.

And perhaps my most favourite fact….

In 2008, there was an attempt, in Iran, to beat Wild Woody’s record for the world’s biggest sandwich. Brilliantly, the impatient crowd began eating it before it could be measured, resulting in a failed attempt!

Happy British Sandwich Week!




We’re all much more conscious of the existence of allergens than we were 10 years ago. The way we label our food products has had to change. If we’re a caterer, café, restaurant or take-away business, we need to make customers aware of known allergens in our food.

Plus, more and more specialist ‘free from’ products have emerged on the market. These have recipe formulations designed to appeal to those allergic or intolerant to certain foods such as wheat, milk, nuts and eggs.

Allergen labelling

It’s no longer acceptable to mention an allergen once on food packaging or labelling. ‘Contains milk and gluten’ just won’t cut the mustard for a pre-packaged cheese sandwich. Instead you would have to list them separately, i.e. Wheat flour (gluten), cheese (milk), within the ingredients list.

If you take a look at the news page on the Food Standards Agency’s website, you’ll find several instances of product recalls. Aside from a couple relating to physical hazards, or incorrect ‘Use by’ dates, the rest refer to undeclared allergens or incorrect allergen labelling. In fact, during the past two months there have been 22 reports of this type.

There are a number of things that we need to be alert to regarding allergens and allergen labelling. These are just a few. You can find out everything you need to know on our Managing Food Allergens course.

Declare all relevant allergens

Unless you use separate areas and production lines; if your factory makes products containing an allergen, you will need to declare it, even if the allergen doesn’t feature in the ingredients for that particular product. This is because even the tiniest trace can trigger a serious reaction in certain people. So, for example, if you’re producing a plain chocolate bar, but you also produce a line containing hazelnuts, you will need to mention this on the packaging for the plain chocolate bar. Something along the lines of “manufactured in an environment that also produces products containing nuts.”

Be wary of any product changes

You need to be aware of changes to your regular product – for example if you run a limited-edition version containing an extra ingredient. For example, if you added ‘Eton Mess’ to a chocolate bar, you would need to declare the egg. Staying on the subject of chocolate – Thornton’s had to recall their personalised dark chocolate Easter eggs because the icing contained milk, which was not mentioned on the packaging.

Check supplier ingredients are allergen-free

If you change an ingredient supplier, you need to check with them if there are any allergens in their product. Even if you’re confident that your current product doesn’t contain allergens, you need to double-check every time anything changes.

Storage of ingredients can also be a factor if ingredients have been stored or transported together. This is why visual inspection for tears or holes in packaging is so important.

Avoid product recalls

Product recalls can be a costly business. And if it’s the packaging that’s to blame, rather than the product, that’s very frustrating. That’s why it’s always worth taking the time to ensure that the labelling is correct. Dispose of any packaging that doesn’t contain the correct information, and always ensure that the packaging contains the correct product.

There have been instances of allergen and non-allergen foods being packed together – which obviously poses a risk. Only recently Tesco had to recall a Chicken Chow Mein product because it had been packed together with a Chicken Curry product. This meant that it contained e.g. milk, mustard and sesame – which weren’t mentioned on the label.

How serious can it get?

The main 14 allergens are (in alphabetical order): celery, gluten, crustaceans, egg, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, nuts, peanuts, sesame, soya and sulphur dioxide.

An allergic reaction occurs when the body doesn’t recognise certain proteins in a type of food and so fights them off with toxins. Unfortunately, these toxins are also harmful to the body and cause a variety of symptoms which range from skin irritations to gastro-intestinal problems and, in severe cases, problems breathing and a dangerous drop in blood pressure which can even lead to death.

Nobody wants to be responsible for any of the above because their product was labelled incorrectly. If you need help with product labelling, why not ask about our 1-day in-house legal labelling course?

After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.




Nobody can truly predict the outcome of June 8th General Election. We’ve found that we can’t necessarily rely on opinion polls. Look at what happened in America – and in the EU Referendum. Then there’s the uncertainty following the forthcoming French Election.

BrexitNo backtracking on Brexit

Whichever party, or coalition, forms the next Government, the fact remains that they are still going to have to deal with Britain’s exit from the European Union. Even if we’d like to, we can’t back out now. Yes, Article 50 doesn’t come into effect for a couple of years, but for Brexit to be reversed every one of the 27 EU member countries would have to agree to take us back. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see that happening. We’ve ruffled far too many feathers. So, whether it’s soft, hard or something in between – Brexit isn’t going away anytime soon.

How border controls could be barriers to British exports

Greater control of our borders was one of the main reasons why many British citizens cast their vote in favour of leaving the EU. They felt there were too many immigrants entering the UK. However, what they might not have realised is that they were not only voting against free movement of people within EU Bmember countries. Their vote also placed considerable barriers to British companies who rely on the export of their goods to the EU.

This factor is of particular significance to the food industry. Let’s take a look at some figures: in 2015 the UK exported £8.9bn of food and non-alcoholic drinks to the EU and £3,2bn of value-added food and non-alcoholic drinks to the EU. That represented 71% of the UK’s total food and non-alcoholic drink exports for the year. (Source: HM Revenue & Customs 2016).

Richard North EU Brexit

EU Blogger and Brexit expert, Richard North.

UK to become ‘Third Country’ in dealings with the EU

At the moment trade flows freely between EU countries. When we leave it won’t be so easy. It won’t be as simple as saying ‘We’re leaving, but we want all our trade arrangements to stay the same.’ You see, when Brexit finally comes into effect, Britain will be classed as a ‘Third Country’ in relation to EU countries.

As prominent EU blogger and Brexit expert, Richard North, puts it: “Our new status as a country sitting outside of the single market will bring the imposition of a series of controls. The most prominent and potentially most damaging will be the inspection regime carried out at Border Control Points. Roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) shippers will experience significant delays, as will what are commonly termed ‘driver accompanied loads.’ In such cases not only will the load be held up, the vehicle and driver will be kept out of play as well.’

tomatoesDelays and a shortfall in inspection facilities could cause chaos

He continues ‘That said, it would appear that delays are only part of the problem and the smaller part of it. If there are significant capacity shortfalls in inspection facilities, there will have to be restrictions on the on the level of exports, either on a first-come, first served basis, or with the adoption of a more equitable quota system. Failing that, we see the prospect of loads being delayed so long that perishable contents will be spoiled and become unusable. On top of this, the extra shipping time may render the transport of low value goods uneconomic.’

So, if you’re a current exporter of fresh and perishable goods to EU countries, the prospect of delays at border controls could pose a very real threat to the profitability or, indeed, future of your business.

It’s not a case of keeping the old EU regulations and expecting things to remain the same

It is not sufficient merely for Britain to continue binding itself to the relevant regulations. It will still be a ‘third country’ and must go through all the hoops before it is allowed to export to the EU. This means, amongst other things, that animals and products of animal origin must be routed via a Border Inspection Post.

At the moment, because we’re still a member of the EU, any foodstuffs of plant or animal origin that we’re planning to export to other EU countries are inspected here, at their point of origin. This means that if a company is producing beef, for example, they will be inspected and approved by UK authorities under the supervision of the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office. There are no border controls required. This approval is sufficient.


Dublin Port sign

After Article 50 is executed, this free trade will disappear. Even products moving between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic will be subject to border control, since the Irish republic is remaining in the EU. In other words all goods will need to be re-routed via border controls at either Shannon Airport or Dublin Airport or Port before they can be circulated throughout Ireland.

For exports to France and beyond, all British produce will need to be inspected at either Dunkirk or Le Havre – the only two points where there are inspection facilities at present. And you can imagine the pressure and delays especially if samples need to be taken off-site for analysis.

Are there any solutions?

Richard North comments that: “A possible mitigation factor is the adoption by the Commission of the Article 73 procedure (under the 2017 Regulations) permitting pre-export controls to be performed by third countries. However, these do not affect the right of Member States to carry out official controls on imported feed and food to verify that the pre-export checks carried out in the non-EU country remain effective. Furthermore, only two approvals have been given, one to the United States relating to “peanuts and derived products thereof as regards the presence of aflatoxins” and the other to Canada relating to “wheat and wheat flour as regards the presence of ochratoxin A”.

So, then, even at best, the prospects for many food exports to the EU, post-Brexit, are poor. There will be considerable delays, increased costs and difficulty in committing to reliable delivery timing. At worst, delays and/or capacity limitations may make it impossible to continue the export of highly perishable products. In the longer-term, ro-ro shipping may prove impracticable or uneconomic and we may to a shift to containerised transport, with redistribution away from the Channel ports.

Brexit talkMeet Richard North

This is certainly food for thought. You can read more of Richard’s informed comments on Brexit at eureferendum.com. Or, better still, come and meet the man himself at our Brexit briefing on 22nd June. Contact Claire Lennon (claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk) for more details.




March madness

March was an extremely busy month at Verner Wheelock! We have run courses here every week. In fact on some occasions demand has been such that we’ve run two courses concurrently – at our training centre or at Utopia or The Tempest.

We’ve managed to pack in Level 4 HACCP, Level 4 Food Safety, Training the Trainer and Managing Food Allergens, as well as refresher courses in auditing, food safety, HACCP and training skills.

Refresher courses are extremely useful if it’s been 3 years or more since you last undertook training. They’re also an essential requirement by many external auditors or employers as part of your CPD.

Let’s also not forget 11 in-house courses up and down the country during March. We like to keep our trainers on their toes (and our Training Support Team for that matter)!

Verner Wheelock staff training

We’re firm believers in practising what you preach. So not only do we run courses for the food industry, we also undertake training ourselves. This is what we’ve been doing recently:

Mitch has taken and passed the Auditing Skills Refresher and Level 3 HACCP. Plus he has just passed his FDQ Lead Auditor examination.

Amberley is now a fully qualified First Aider, having passed her Emergency First Aid course. She’s also taken and passed her Level 3 HACCP.



Rachael B has also been busy. She’s been successful in passing her Data Protection examination and Fire Safety training. She also achieved a Pass with Distinction in her Level 3 HACCP examination.



Not to be outdone, Rachel C has completed the Managing Food Allergens course and has passed her Emergency First Aid certificate. She’s also undertaken Social Media for Business training (“I have to be on Facebook and Twitter all the time – it’s part of my job….”). Rachel will be tackling Level 3 HACCP next. She says she’s feeling the pressure already as everyone else in the office has passed.

Fantastic results

Speaking 0f passing exams, we’re over the moon with the great examination results our delegates have achieved. For example we ‘re delighted to announce a 100% pass rate for our recent auditing skills courses. 59 delegates took the exam and there were an impressive 29 distinctions! Well done everyone at Alpla, Dunbia, Pladis and Haribo as well as individuals attending the course here in Skipton.

We’re pleased to report a high level of distinctions in our Level 3 Food Safety and Level 3 HACCP course exams. There were 11 distinctions for Food Safety and 13 distinctions for Level 3 HACCP. This gives an overall pass rate of 96%.

Our advanced level Lead Auditor course at the end of January also delivered 2 distinctions and 6 passes. This is a challenging examination, so we’re extremely pleased with the overall pass rate of 80%.

STOP PRESS: We have just had the results of our April Lead Auditing course – a pass rate of 100% and 3 more distinctions.



Our very own Flying Scotsman!

On my journey to work on 31st March I noticed an inordinate number of vehicle parked up in the laybys on the A629. The drivers and passengers had vacated their cars and were peering through binoculars or setting up tripods.

I suddenly remembered that the famous steam locomotive The Flying Scotsman was due to pass though that morning. Never one to miss a photo opportunity I decided to take a phot myself. So here it is – our very own ‘Flying Scotsman’ Admin Controller Mitch Morrison!

Sweet dreams, Mabel

Along with the successes, we also had some extremely sad news in March. Mabel, one of Alison’s two little dogs died after being knocked down by a car. Many of you will remember Mabel. She was a very sweet-natured Jack Russell terrier with a larger than life bark. The place isn’t quite the same without her. We miss her very much and our condolences are with Alison at this sad time.

Verner Wheelock Awards

We have now delivered all the 2016 Verner Wheelock Excellence Awards to their recipients. For the final award for Individual Excellence, Claire and Rachel visited Harper Green School in Bolton.

Claire presented the Award to Sharron Jacques who is the school’s Senior Catering Officer. Sharron had undertaken our Training the Trainer course in Skipton in July.  Course tutor Judith Sunderland nominated Sharron because “her enthusiasm was excellent and she gave the funniest micro-teach of the food handler from hell that I have seen.”

Sharron said “Winning this Verner Wheelock award has been a great confidence-booster and a fantastic recognition for our department within the school.”

Forthcoming Courses

Our Spring/Summer courses are filling up steadily. May courses are all full with the exception of a couple of places, so here is an update of Verner Wheelock courses running in June and July. As ever, if you’d like to book a place, contact Claire on 01756 700802 or use the online booking form at www.vwa.co.uk.


Level 4 Food Safety –  5th -7th June – FULL

Auditing Skills – 12th -13th June

Supplier Auditing – 14th June

HACCP Refresher – 15th June

Level 4 Food Safety Update 16th June

Level 3 Food Safety –  19th – 21st June

VACCP & TACCP – 22nd June

Level 3 HACCP – 26th – 27th June

Training the Trainer – 28th& 29th June & 5th/ 6th July


Level 4 HACCP  – 10th -13th July

Level 3 HACCP – 12th – 13th July

 To book your place on any of the above courses, please call Claire on 01756 700802 or email claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk








This year marks the 10th anniversary of a unique reaction flavours course held in the UK. Creating Thermal Process Flavours, run by food industry training specialist, Verner Wheelock, is the only course of its kind and attracts delegates from around the globe.

Specialist flavour course

The annual 5-day laboratory-based course is aimed at graduates working in NPD and flavour technology in the food, seasonings and flavour industries.  It’s also ideal for flavourists looking to get back to basics and explore their creativity. It is tutored by internationally-recognised flavour consultants Dr David Baines and Richard Seal whose clients and experience read like a Who’s Who of the food industry.

Dr David Baines

Dr David Baines

“The course is designed to provide delegates with the theory and practice behind the development and production of process flavours. This means they can return to their companies with the knowledge and confidence to create their own reaction flavours.” Said Dr Baines.

“For example, on the last course we showed 52 model reactions in the first two days. These demonstrated the use of ingredients, process conditions and the application of enzymes in developing authentic raw materials for use in process reactions.”

Verner Wheelock’s Managing Director, Alison Wheelock, said “It’s wonderful that this course is still as popular as ever. Since the course began in 2007 we’ve welcomed delegates from as far afield as Argentina, Brazil, Singapore and India, as well as from Europe.

Why the course is so popular with flavourists

Alison Wheelock

Managing Director, Alison Wheelock

I think there are three main reasons for the popularity of Creating Thermal Process Flavours. Firstly there’s no other course like it with a main focus on savoury reaction flavours. It also now incorporates sweet brown flavours such as chocolate caramel and malt.

Secondly, an undoubted pull is the course tutors.  David and Richard are experts in their field and this course is the perfect blend of specialist lectures and hands-on practical sessions.

Finally there’s the social element. We’re based in Skipton, in the Yorkshire Dales and we like to offer our delegates some of our famous Yorkshire hospitality. Everyone stays in the same hotel and we provide activities in the evenings. By the end of the course, as well as having benefited from the expertise of Richard and David, they’ve been able to share knowledge, ideas and creativity between themselves – and made some firm friends as well.”

There are still some places available on the next Creating Thermal Process Flavours course which runs from 23rd – 27th October 2017. For more information, please visit www.vwa.co.uk or email claire.lennon@vwa.co.uk


Poetry in motion #worldpoetryday

It’s World Poetry Day, so here’s my attempt at a poem about Verner Wheelock:

Manufacturer, packager, restauranteur…
The food industry trainer that people prefer
Is Verner Wheelock on the Broughton Estate.
The venue is perfect; exam results: great.
Our trainers are experts; our staff are the best.
So book on our courses, and you’ll be impressed
(well we’re pretty sure you will be. We don’t get many complaints…)


Dr Verner WheelockWell it’s 17th March, which can only mean one thing – it’s St Patrick’s Day.

Did you know that our founder and chairman, Verner, is Irish? He grew up in County Wexford before coming to university in the UK. Even though he’s lived in Yorkshire for a very long time, you can still detect his Irish accent.

Verner is not alone in choosing to stay in ‘God’s Own Country’. The 2011 Census shows that there are now over 20,000 Irish natives living in Yorkshire and the Humber. They will no doubt be celebrating their national day today. But here are some facts you might not know about St Patrick:


St Patrick was never actually canonised by the church

So, strictly speaking, he was never officially made a saint. However he performed miracles and established churches in Ireland where he worked as a Christian missionary.

St Patricks daySt Patrick is Scottish, not Irish.

Shock! Horror! He was born Maewyn Succat in Kilpatrick, Scotland in AD387 and first came to Ireland as a slave to tend sheep. He was just 16 years of age. He later escaped and trained for the priesthood. On his return to Ireland he converted thousands of Irish with pagan beliefs to Christianity.


Verner Wheelock St Patricks Day

There is a good reason the shamrock is associated with St Patrick’s Day.

St Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the holy trinity. He’s also attributed to making the Celtic cross. He added a sun to the regular cross, since pagans worshipped the sun.

Why not try some of these Irish-inspired goodies today?

Yes, they do all contain booze (and plenty of calories). But loosen up and join the craic!

Guinness Chocolate Cake Recipe


Jameson Irish Whiskey Cake Recipe


Baileys Cheesecake Recipe


baileys banan colada cocktail

Bailey’s Banana Colada Cocktail


sona lá st Pádraig!





What is Kokumi? #savoury #flavour

What is Kokumi? Could it be some kind of Japanese tea; an electronic pet that you need to try to keep alive; or some elaborate type of paper-folding?

The answer is ‘none of the above’.  Kokumi is, in fact, a  potential flavour enhancer. Many of you will already be of the different types of taste: salt, sweet, sour and bitter and umami. Umami, which was discovered in 1908 by Dr Kikuna Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University, translates from the Japanese as ‘yummy deliciousness’ or ‘pleasant savoury taste.’ In around 2008 through studies on mice, scientists discovered that humans also have unique receptors on the tongue that respond to calcium – a potential sixth taste sensation – Kokumi.

The difference between umami and kokumi

Umami can be attributed to certain flavours – e.g. those that you might term ‘more-ish’ such as  parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, soy, mushrooms, cured meats, dried fish, other cheeses, slow cooked meats and vegetables, such as soups or broth. Kokumi, on the other hand, doesn’t have a specific flavour of its own. Instead it acts to increase the flavour in savoury dishes.

Dr David Baines , internationally-renowned flavourist and co-tutor of our annual ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’ course, says that if you include milk proteins and certain amino acids in a beef flavouring recipe the flavour can be enhanced in a similar way to monosodium glutamate (MSG). This is because the receptors in the tongue are responding to the calcium. A number of short peptides which respond to calcium can also act as a flavour enhancer. The best example of these is a reduced form of glutathione.

The dish in which umami was  first identified was a traditional Japanese fish soup containing fermented fish flakes. One of the best sources of the peptides  which give the kokumi reaction is milt – in other words fish sperm.

In this country, although we eat other parts of animals, we’re maybe not quite ready for fish sperm as an ingredient in our food. However, the good news is that we can activate the calcium receptors in our tongue and thus our enjoyment of savoury flavours with aged gouda instead of MSG in certain foods.

To find out more about our specialist course ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’, please click here. It runs from  23rd – 27th October 2017.