Barry Workman is head chef at the Best Western Valley Hotel in Ironbridge and this year marks a double silver celebration for the family as wife Helen completes 25 years working at Broseley Medical Practice.
The Valley Hotel has the enviable record of retaining two AA rosettes for the last 20 years – a status which will be carried forward for another year following the most recent visit by AA inspectors.
Barry has seven chefs working under him at the hotel, including son Adam, and said he has seen many changes in the profession over the last quarter of a century.
“I started out as a 14 or 15-year-old washing up, worked at Telford Golf Club then Telford Moat House before going back to the golf club as head chef. I then spent some time in Leicester before coming back to Shropshire,” he said.
“The Valley is a family-run hotel and we enjoy an excellent working atmosphere – it has to be like that nowadays otherwise you just wouldn’t keep the staff. Hospitality and cheffing means working very unsociable hours and you really must be dedicated to it – it’s a vocation.
“The industry has changed greatly over the years and the Gordon Ramsay approach is pretty much a thing of the past, things are much more relaxed now and I think they’ve changed for the better. This means staff stay longer and we are fortunate in our staff retention, which means we have that loyalty and continuity which are very important in the service we provide.
“Television continues to raise the profile of chefs and cooking and people can’t seem to get enough of it. There is a lot of interest in what we do as chefs and people have very definite ideas of what they want.
“There are still pressures in the kitchen but a lot of stress can be eliminated by thinking ahead, planning and preparation are so important in running a successful kitchen. You also have to move with the times and keep up with trends.
“Adam is my number two at the hotel and my other son Chris is a self-employed electrician. My wife Helen is the practice nurse at Broseley Medical Practice and is also marking 25 years service. We will be having a meal to celebrate – one that’s prepared by someone else for a change!”
Joanne Boddison, General Manager at the Valley, said: “We are very proud of the work Barry and his team do at the Valley and congratulate him on 25 years with us. He has played a major role in the continuing success of the hotel.
“Food is an important part of what we are about and a big reason why we have a lot of return visitors aswell as people booking weddings, meals and parties with us. We see our fine dining cuisine as an extremely important part of the Valley experience.
“As a team, our chefs probably have a collective service in excess of 50 years which has to be good for the hotel and our guests. It’s also quite unique that our team members often work across other departments and Barry, in particular, has on many occasions turned his hand to maintenance, decorating and helping with refurbishment when needed.”