Interview with Jack Collenette – Rising culinary star and the Apprentice of The Year
Jack Collenette is a 23-year-old rising culinary star from Guernsey. Jack attended Catering College and has also worked at Moores Hotel for the last seven years. For his extraordinary skills and hard work he received the Apprentice of the year award in 2022.
We asked Jack a few questions about his love for cooking and the local ingredients.
Jack, please can you share your story with us? When did you first become interested in a career working with food?
I first became interested in working with food when I was very young maybe 10-11 years old seeing both my grandmother Isabel Langlois and my nan Valerie Tilki both baking in their homes, I was always interested in seeing what they were making and of course tasting it!
Who has influenced you the most in your career?
I have had many people who have influenced me starting first with Wesley Cadogan who I worked along side for 6 years at Moores hotel. I started to work with him in the conservatory restaurant until he became the head chef of JB Parkers which then I went to work alongside him there too. He has definitely shown me many skills in which I will never forget not only in the kitchen but in my life too.
I am very grateful for that. Wes was more then a work colleague to me. He knew how to deal with me as I was a very anxious young lad. Myself and Wes were very close and still are. Many times in the summer Wes would invite me and my mother over to have a BBQ with him and his family. I don’t work with Wes anymore but it was definitely the best 6 years of my life that’s for sure, I would not be capable of doing as much as I do now without Wes.
Another person who has influenced me massively is my Executive head chef Thomas Rickauer, without Thomas I would not have this job. Thomas allowed me to come to Moores Hotel for a week work experience in 2014 whilst I was still at La Mare. He must have seen something because one year later I got a call asking if I would like a job at Moores at only 15 years of age.
Thomas is very good when it comes to looking after me with my days off / holidays. If there are any days I need off, he will try to sort that for me! And 9 times out of 10 he does that with no issues. Thomas also gave me the opportunity over the last 7 years to work in the library bar, conservatory restaurant , Hideaway and JB Parker’s which I am grateful for. Thomas trusts me with coming up with new dishes to put on his menus. He is a great chef with lots of experience and I’m always happy to see what he puts on the menu next.
Thank you Chef Lastly, the current chefs I work with, Sebastian, Kishore, Hassan, Tony, Alin, Liam and Taylor. Everyone inside Moores Hotel influences me so I learn so much from everyone everyday.
How would you define your current style? Are there any trends or new directions that you will be focusing on?
My current style I guess would be finesse on the plate. I love to make food look great because people eat with their eyes.
What’s your most memorable food experience?
My most memorable food experience is winning the Apprentice of the year 2022!
Do you have a signature dish? Can you please share it with us?
I wouldn’t say that I have a “signature” dish, I would say that across the hotel we have made thousands of different dishes over the years and we believe that every dish is “special” because we try our best to always serve the best dishes we can. But if I had to choose one, I love make Sticky Toffee Pudding.
What ingredients would you say are typical for the Channel Islands?
I would say typically the most popular would be the local seafood, being on an island means we are spoilt for choice. Also Guernsey has the most amazing milk, cream and butter and anyone who says they don’t like Guernsey butter is lying!
Please can you share with us what your typical working day looks like?
My typical working day is a split shift. I work from 9am until 2pm and then come back in the evening from 5pm until 10pm. However if it’s busy I may have to work through the afternoon meaning it can be a 13 hr straight shift! From 9am until 12 we are prepping everything, depending what section I am on that day.
We start lunch service from 12. At 5pm I come back in and set up for service making sure we have everything ready for a busy night service, the service is from 6pm until 930pm. We clean down after the last order and try get out for 10pm. It’s not always like that it can be later depending on when people finish desserts.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The thing I enjoy the most about being a chef is that I meet so many people from around the world, even now I work with people from Egypt, Bangladesh, Germany, Poland, Madeira, Croatia and Latvia. It’s amazing to meet people from around the world and share stories with each other. And also to learn different types of cooking which they use in their countries.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I love to go fishing with some people from work. I also meet with some friends when I manage to get a Saturday night off to go for some food and drinks.
If your friend was visiting Guernsey for the first time, what food / drink / coffee spots would you recommend?
Of course first I would bring them to Moores Hotel and sit on the terrace with a cold beer. If they wanted to go elsewhere to eat I would definitely recommend taking them to eat at the Hook. It is personally my favourite place to eat on the island when I’m away from work. I went to college with some of the chefs at Hook so they always look after me.
For a chilled out day having a coffee and relaxing meal I would go to Good Rebel and sit outside. This is a new exciting place where you can have brunch, coffee or any other drink. So if we were to chill we would sit outside there.
If you are looking for a new recipe or some food-related inspiration, head to Jack’s food blog on Instagram.