Royal cook appointed by Weston College
A British chef who has cooked for Royalty, Presidents and celebrities is now teaching catering students at Weston College.
Jos Wellman has created meals for most of the royal family including Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Princess Diana as well as US Presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton and the Bush’s senior and Junior.
He’s made dinners for Frank Sinatra, several James Bond actors, Bon Jovi and a four-tier chocolate cake for Janet Jackson’s 30th birthday. The 53-year-old returned from a career in New Zealand where he wrote cookery books and fronted TV shows in 2011 to care for his terminally ill mother but then fell in love with a childhood sweetheart and was offered his new post.
Jos, of The Mount, said: “I love my new job and it’s great to be back in England. I’m getting used to the cold but I’m still looking for the sea here – I need binoculars! I love British history because the oldest building in New Zealand was only 150 years old and it’s brilliant to get over to Europe and enjoy all its wonderful food.”
Weston College Head of Catering Graham Smith added: “It’s fantastic to have such a talented and experienced chef like Jos on the team. Our faculty is going from strength to strength because people see how well chefs can do all over the world.”
Jos was born in Plymouth but lived in Wales. His father, David, was a Royal Navy signaller tragically killed in a gas explosion at their home in Penrhewceiber when Jos was six. His mother, Sheila, and two sisters survived. Jos said: “I remember the explosion very clearly but have no recollection of life before the age of six – it was as if I was born then.”
He became a part-time chef at 14 and by 17 started his international career in Germany where he was part of a team catering for Russia’s President Brezhnev.
After training across Europe, America and the Bahamas, Jos settled down in Waitangi on New Zealand’s north island. In 1983 he was chef in charge of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s visit when Prince William was a baby. Jos said: “Princess Diana was absolutely lovely and so was William, I prepared all his baby food as well. “
In 1990 he spent eight months putting together a menu for the arrival of The Queen and a host of international visitors for the Commonwealth Games. He said: “It was my visiting mother who achieved global recognition. She was standing by the woman who threw a wet T-shirt at the Queen and mum’s face was over every international newspaper.”
His favourite American President was Bill Clinton whom he said was ‘utterly charming and down to earth’ and he enjoyed the company of Bond actors Shaun Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.
By far his most unusual diner was comedian and writer Spike Milligan who died in 2002. Jos recalled: “He came into the kitchen to thank me for dinner then just picked up a meat cleaver and proceeded to chop anything lying about. “Meat, bread, fruit and vegetables were flying around the kitchen. He was gently removed by his friends.”
The nearest Jos came to culinary disaster was three years ago as chef of the Beehive at New Zealand’s parliament for the launch of the Rugby World Cup. “My flight from Christchurch to Wellington was delayed for 12 hours because of thick fog,’ he explained.
“I panic-skyped, texted and called my team arriving with just two hours to finalise the event. It started as a meal for 150 but we eventually catered for 400.”
Jos starred in the TV series Kiwi Kitchen, made documentaries, ran restaurants, taught and was even flown to Singapore to give one-off cookery demonstrations. In November 2010 Jos set up a soup kitchen to help rescue teams after the Pike River Mining disaster which killed 29 miners.
And he did the same in February 2011 after a huge earthquake hit Christchurch killing 185 people. He returned to the UK shortly after when he was told his mum was terminally ill and she died in November.
He said: “Mum was an amazing woman and she made me my all-time favourite meal of home-made pasties not long before she died. When I returned I got close to my sisters again and then met Debbie. We’d been boyfriend and girlfriend when I was 17 and she was 15. We fell in love again.”
The couple have moved to Weston and intend to marry soon. When Jos isn’t working he paints, draws, sculpts and writes cookery columns and books.
For more information on Weston College call 01934 411411 or go to www.weston.ac.uk